Cheering for some Pirates’ players and friends in Friday’s winter league action:
Leones del Caracas 6, Tigres de Aragua 4 — Caracas won this battle of the Big Cats. Los Leones scored first with a solo homer in the top of the 1st. Los Tigres tied it up in the 2nd inning. Two singles, including one by 1B Hector Gimenez, and a throwing error put runners on second and third bases. LF Lastings Milledge drove in the run with a ground out to third. Caracas took the lead again in the top of the 3rd, with a walk, a ground out, and an RBI single. The batter was out at second as he tried to advance on the throw to the plate: CF Jorge Cortes to C Raul Chavez to SS Ronny Cedeno, who tagged the runner out. Aragua took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the 3rd, with a 3-run homer, after Chavez reached on a fielding error, a single, and Cedeno’s sacrifice bunt. But Los Leones came right back with their own homer for 2 runs in the top of the 4th, then took the lead with another run on two singles. They added an insurance run in the top of the 9th, on two singles and a throwing error. Los Tigres did not score again, though Milledge singled in the 4th, Cedeno singled in the 5th, and Cortes singled in the 7th.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes de Carolina 8, Criollos de Caguas 3 — Los Criollos managed only 5 hits, and two of those were by SS Luis Figueroa. Figueroa singled in the 3rd, and along with two more singles and two walks, Los Criollos scored 2 runs. Figueroa also reached on an error in the 4th, and that allowed Los Criollos’ remaining run to score. He also singled in the 9th. 3B Ramon Vazquez went 0-for-4 for Caguas. Los Gigantes scored 2 runs in the 2nd and 4th innings, then added 4 runs in the 7th inning.
Aguilas Cibaenas 10, Tigres del Licey 3 — Los Tigres posted 10 hits but left 11 runners on base, scoring only 3 times. Licey scored a run in the 3rd on two singles and a sacrifice fly. LF Jake Fox and two others singled in the 7th, and one run scored when C Robinzon Diaz bounced into a double play. A single and a double gave Los Tigres their last run in the 8th. Diaz singled for Los Tigres in the 2nd inning, but DH Ronny Paulino (who just signed a contract with the Mets) went 0-for-3 with a walk. Los Aguilas put up their first run in the 4th, tying the game on two singles, a walk, and a wild pitch. Then they put the game out of reach with 4 runs in the 6th and 3 runs in the 7th. Denny Bautista came on to pitch for Licey in the 7th, and he gave up a walk and a 2-RBI double. Starling Marte scored one of those runs, since he had just come in to pinch-run. Marte remained in the game to play right field. He batted again in the 9th, and reached base on a fielding error, though was out on a force play at second. A walk and a single brought in two more Aguilas’ runs in the 9th. LF Kevin Melillo went 0-for-3 for Los Aguilas.
The MLB Winter Meetings are over…. back to the winter league action, as we cheer on some new Pirates’ players.
Leones del Escogido 3, Tigres del Licey 0 — New Pirate Caesar Valdez (just acquired from the Diamondbacks as the player-to-be-named-later in the Zach Duke trade) made his 8th start for Licey, but did not get out of the 3rd inning as he suffered his 2nd loss of the season. Valdez had no trouble in his first inning of work, then gave up a solo home run in the 2nd inning. He put out the first two batters in the 3rd inning, then gave up three consecutive singles for a run, plus a walk. Valdez was relieved at that point, with no more runs scoring in the inning. Los Leones did score one more run in the 5th. Los Tigres were held to just 4 hits, including one by Indy area native 1B Jake Fox. 3B Andy Marte and C Robinzon Diaz were both hitless in the game.
Bravos de Margarita 5, Cardenales de Lara 4 — Los Cardenales tied the score at 4-4 in the top of the 8th on a pair of doubles. The winning run scored in the bottom of the 9th, when two walks and a hit batter put three Bravos on base. Another walk forced in the winning run. Romulo Sanchez pitched to 4 Margarita batters and made 4 outs, finishing the 6th inning for Lara and then pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th. Jhonathan Ramos pitched a scoreless 6th inning for Margarita. He allowed a double and a walk, with 2 strikeouts.
Tigres de Aragua 6, Navegantes de Magallanes 4 — A game full of Pirates. Los Tigres posted a pair of 2-run homers in the 5th inning, on their way to 13 total hits. Every member of the lineup except for C Raul Chavez had at least one hit. SS Ronny Cedeno, 1B Hector Gimenez, LF Lastings Milledge, and CF Jorge Cortes each had one run. Wil Ledezma pitched one inning for Los Tigres. He entered the game in the 7th inning, and was responsible for one run on a solo homer. Then he began the 8th inning, when he allowed two more runs to score. Corey Hamman pitched in the top of the 9th for Los Navegantes. He gave up a single and a pair of intentional walks, but ended the inning and the game without any of those runners scoring.
Tiburones de La Guaira 5, Caribes de Anzoategui 3 — In his second Venezuelan League game, LF Jose Tabata walked and singled for Los Caribes. He singled in the bottom of the 1st, moving another runner to third base, and that runner came around to score, for 2 runs in the 1st. Los Tiburones tied the score with 2 runs in the 3rd inning. They took the lead with a run in the 6th, and Los Caribes tied the score again in the bottom of the 7th, on a walk and two singles. The game went into extras, and in the top of the 10th, Los Tiburones scored the winning and insurance runs on a 2-run homer.
Day Three of the Winter Meetings…the Rule 5 Draft will be tomorrow (Thursday)
Today, the Pirates added another player to their 40-man roster. Matt Diaz is an outfielder who was drafted by the Rays in the 17th round of the 1999 draft. He reached the major league level for the first time in 2003, but played in only 14 games for the Rays over the 2003 and 2004 seasons, and went 5-for-30 at the plate. The Oregon native was released by the Rays in February 2005 and a few days later was claimed off waivers by the Orioles, then signed by the Royals the next day. His 2005 season was shortened by injury, but he did hit .281 in 34 games for the Royals. The Royals traded Diaz to the Braves after the 2005 season, and he remained in their organization for the next 5 years. Diaz played full-time in 2006 and 2007, but a left knee injury prevented him from playing for most of the 2008 season. He was back in full swing in 2009, when he hit .313 with 13 homers and 58 RBI for the Braves. An infected thumb limited Diaz again in 2010. He was able to play in 84 games for the Braves, and hit .250, with 7 homers and 31 RBI. Diaz will turn 33 in early March. He’s expected to play in right field for the Pirates.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Wednesday’s winter league action:
Leones del Caracas 7, Navegantes del Magallanes 0 — Corey Hamman had a better outing tonight than he did yesterday. He pitched 2 innings, taking the mound with a runner on second and no outs in the 7th. Hamman gave up a single and a sacrifice fly, to bring in one run (charged to the previous pitcher), then another single and a double play. In the 8th, Hamman worked around a single to keep Los Leones from scoring. Jose Ascanio pitched his first competitive inning since recovering from injury. He gave up a double to the first batter he faced, then retired the next three batters. Caracas’s 5-run 5th inning was all the firepower they needed.
Tiburones de La Guaira 4, Caribes de Anzoategui 3 — Jose Tabata made his Venezuelan debut, OK’ed by the Pirates, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and two walks. Los Caribes scored 2 runs in the 4th and another in the 5th, to take a 3-1 lead. Tabata’s RBI single drove in the run in the 5th. But Los Tiburones bit back with a 3-run 8th inning for the win.
Bravos de Margarita 7, Cardenales de Lara 3 — A 5-run rally in the bottom of the 1st inning, including a grand slam, gave Los Bravos a lead they would not give up. Starter Yusmeiro Petit pitched 7 innings for Los Bravos, allowing one run. He was relieved to begin the 8th inning, by Bobby Livingston (who pitched in one game for the Indy Indians in 2009. Livingston gave up 2 runs on two singles and a double, then was relieved by Anthony Claggett. Claggett ended the inning with a strikeout, then retired the side in the 9th.
Aguilas de Zulia 2, Tigres de Aragua 1 — SS Ronny Cedeno scored Los Tigres’ only run in the bottom of the 1st. After a double, Cedeno reached base on a fielder’s choice, then stole second base, and scored on an RBI single. Back-to-back home runs in the top of the 4th gave Zulia the lead in the 4th inning. Cedeno was hitless in his other 3 plate appearances. 1B Hector Gimenez singled in the 4th, when Los Tigres loaded the bases, but did not score. LF Lastings Milledge went 0-for-4, and C Raul Chavez went 0-for-2 for Los Tigres.
MLB’s winter meetings begin tomorrow (Monday). Stay tuned for news of trades, moves, shifts, Rule 5 draft, etc.
A few of Sunday’s winter league games with Pirates’ players and friends participating:
Cardenales de Lara 3, Bravos de Margarita 1 — Anthony Claggett pitched 4 innings in his start for Los Bravos, and allowed one unearned run on a hit and a walk in the night-cap of a double-header. The run came in the bottom of the 1st, when a single and a throwing error at third base put the lead-off runner on second base. A sacrifice bunt and an RBI ground out brought in the unearned run. After a walk, Claggett retired 10 of the 11 remaining batters he faced — he hit one batter with a pitch. Los Bravos scored their run in the top of the 1st, on a double, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly. Claggett left the game with the score tied. He was relieved by Edgar Martinez, who began the bottom of the 5th by allowing a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a 2-run homer, which gave Lara the win.
Aguilas de Zulia 6, Tigres de Aragua 1 — SS Ronny Cedeno and CF Lastings Milledge each had a single in the 8th inning, and Milledge also walked in the 4th, but neither came around to score in Los Tigres’ loss. Aragua’s only run was scored in the top of the 9th, on a triple and an RBI single. Zulia scored their 6 runs on 13 hits, scattered over 5 of their 8 at-bats. C Raul Chavez, C Miguel Perez, and pinch-hitter Jorge Cortes were all hitless for Los Tigres.
Leones del Caracas 8, Navegantes del Magallanes 4 — Corey Hamman pitched a scoreless inning for Los Navegantes in their loss. Caracas had already scored 2 runs in each of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, and Los Navegantes had scored a pair of runs on a 2-run homer in the 4th and one more run in the 7th on a double, a single, and an RBI ground out. The first batter in the top of the 8th was hit by a pitch, and Hamman entered the game with that runner on first base. He gave up a walk but retired three batters to get out of the inning without allowing a run to score. Los Navegantes scored one more run in the bottom of the 9th on a hit batter and two singles, but it wasn’t enough.
Looking in on Pirates’ players and friends in Saturday’s winter league action:
Estrellas de Oriente 6, Tigres del Licey 3 — Los Tigres posted only 5 hits, but they also hurt themselves by committing 4 errors. They scored all of their runs in the 3rd inning on a 3-run homer. DH Ronny Paulino, C Robinzon Diaz, and 1B Jake Fox were all hitless for Los Tigres. Los Estrellas took advantage of the errors to score 2 runs in each of the 1st, 5th, and 8th innings. Half of their runs were unearned.
Gigantes del Cibao 7, Leones del Escogido 3 — Mike Dubee earned his third Dominican League win for Los Gigantes. Dubee entered the game in the top of the 5th inning, with Los Gigantes leading 3-2, two runners on base, and two outs. The first batter he faced reached base on a fielding error at third base, allowing the tying run to score. The next batter singled up the middle, but the throw in from center field let C JR House tag the lead runner out at the plate to end the inning. House was the lead-off batter in Los Gigantes’ half of the inning, and he began a rally with a single into center field. A sacrifice bunt and a single brought in House with the go-ahead run, and another single and an RBI ground out gave Dubee and Los Gigantes an insurance run. Dubee pitched a scoreless 6th inning, and then was relieved. Los Gigantes added 2 more runs in the 8th on two singles, a walk, and a fielding error.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 2, Leones de Ponce 0 — The Caguas pitchers allowed only 4 Ponce hitters to reach base, on three singles and a double scattered throughout the game, and two of the base runners were erased with double plays. Los Criollos scored their first run in the 4th, when 3B Ramon Vazquez led off with a walk, and scored on a single and an RBI double. A triple and an RBI single gave them another run in the 7th, and that was all they needed.