Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in the few winter league playoff games on Sunday….
Gigantes del Cibao 8, Toros del Este 2 — A 7-run 7th inning by Los Gigantes included a 2-run homer and a 3-run homer, and it gave them all the firepower they would need. Former Indy Indian Tim Harikkala finished the 5th inning after Los Toros scored their runs, then loaded the bases with a double and two walks in the 6th, though another reliever was able to end the inning without a run scoring. Juan Perez pitched the 8th inning for Los Gigantes and struck out the side.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce 7, Gigantes de Carolina 6 — 2B Benji Gonzalez singled and tripled for Los Gigantes, but Ponce pulled it out with 2 runs in the bottom of the 10th. Los Gigantes began the game with 3 runs in the top of the 1st. They added a run in the 6th on a single and Gonzalez’s RBI triple. A double and a single gave them another run in the 7th. Los Leones scored one run in the 5th, then tied the score with 3 walks and a grand slam in the 7th. The game went into extra innings, but Carolina quickly scored a run in the top of the 10th with a single and a double. But in the bottom of the frame, Ponce had a runner reach base on an error, and a 2-run homer gave them the walk-off win. Gonzalez also singled in the 4th but was caught stealing.
Senadores de San Juan 8, Criollos de Caguas 2 — Another game with 3 runs scored in the top of the 1st, and Los Criollos were chasing Los Senadores for the rest of the game. Los Criollos scored their runs in the 7th, on a pair of doubles and an RBI single by 3B Ramon Vazquez. SS Luis Figueroa singled in the 4th, but was left on base.
A few Pirates’ players and friends appeared in Wednesday’s winter league playoff games:
Leones del Caracas 2, Aguilas de Zulia 0 (Game 1)– Another pitching duel tonight, with each team posting just 5 hits each. Los Leones scored a run in the 6th on a single, a bunt, a ground out, and an RBI single. They added another run in the 7th, on a ground-rule double, a sacrifice bunt by LF Mike Ryan (who was shifted over from Los Navegantes del Magallanes) and an RBI ground out. Jose Ascanio pitched the top of the 8th for Caracas. He gave up a lead-off single, but got the next batter to line into a double play at first base, and another line out ended the inning.
Leones 14, Aguilas 5 (Game 2) — Oh, that’s where all the hits went — to the second game, with 13 hits for each team. Three Leones’ batters collected 3 hits each. C Carlos Maldonado singled twice and walked, scoring twice for Los Leones. LF Mike Ryan also scored twice, with a single and a walk. The 6-run 6th inning pushed Los Leones over the top, and it included 3 walks, a triple, a double, and Maldonado’s RBI single.
Tigres de Aragua 4, Bravos de Margarita 1 — Los Tigres’ pitchers held Los Bravos to just 3 hits, and the only Margarita run came on two errors and an RBI single in the 5th. Aragua scored their first run in the 3rd inning on a single and a double. Four singles, including one by 1B Hector Gimenez, brought in 2 runs in the 5th. A single, a stolen base, and an error gave Los Tigres their last run in the 8th inning. LF Lastings Milledge and CF Jorge Cortes also had a single each in the game.
Estrellas de Oriente 2, Toros del Este 1 — A double, a bunt, and an RBI single in the top of the 10th broke a 1-1 tie to give Los Estrellas the win. A double, a bunt, and an RBI ground out brought in Los Estrellas’ first run in the 6th. A pair of singles around a ground out pushed in a run for Los Toros in the 8th. DH Ronny Paulino singled twice and walked for Los Estrellas, but was out at second base twice and left on base once.
Gigantes del Cibao 9, Leones del Escogido 6 — CF Rich Thompson is looking like a strong addition to Los Gigantes for their playoff drive. He contributed a single, a double, 2 RBI, and a run in tonight’s win. The game began with Thompson’s double, and a bunt and a throwing error allowed the speedy Thompson come around to score. A ground out and a wild pitch gave Los Gigantes a second run in the top of the 1st. Los Leones tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Thompson gave Los Gigantes the lead again in the top of the 2nd, with an RBI ground out that followed 3 singles. Escogido took the lead back in the bottom of the frame with 3 runs, for a 5-3 score. Los Gigantes tied the score at 5-5 with two singles and two doubles in the 4th. Then they recaptured the lead in the 5th, scoring 3 runs on a pair of two-out singles and a pair of fielding errors. Thompson drove in Los Gigantes’ final run in the top of the 7th, with an RBI single following a double.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends (some from the way-back machine) in Wednesday’s winter league action:
DOMINICAN LEAGUE (Round robin playoff series)
Leones del Escogido 4, Gigantes del Cibao 2 — A 2-run homer in the top of the 7th made the difference for Los Leones. LF/RF Rich Thompson went 0-for-2 for Los Gigantes, with a walk. He also dropped down a sacrifice bunt following a single in the bottom of the 9th, moving the runner to second base. Another single brought in Los Gigantes’ run in that inning. Former Indy Indian (2000 – 02) Tim Harikkala pitched 2.2 innings for Los Gigantes. He finished the 4th inning, then pitched two scoreless innings, but gave up the 2-run homer in the 7th.
Estrellas de Oriente 9, Toros del Este 2 – DH Ronny Paulino had 3 hits and an RBI for Los Estrellas. The RBI came with a single in the bottom of the 1st inning, following two other singles. He singled again in the 3rd, and tried to score on a double, but Paulino never was the fastest runner, and he was out at the plate. Paulino led off the 6th inning with a single, which started a 5-run rally, including a 2-run homer.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce 8, Senadores de San Juan 6 — A 4-run rally in the 8th was not enough for Los Senadores to catch up. Then they had to deal with RJ Rodriguez in the 9th. Rodriguez picked up his 13th save of the season for Los Leones, with a 1-2-3 inning.
Criollos de Caguas 8, Indios de Mayaguez 2 — Eight runs in the 3rd inning were all Los Criollos needed. They recorded 5 singles, 4 walks, a triple, and a sacrifice fly (by SS Luis Figueroa) as 13 batters came to the plate in the inning.
Caribes de Anzoategui 9, Navegantes del Magallanes 2 — Los Caribes capped their scoring with a 4-run 8th inning, and Los Navegantes could not keep up. C JR House had two hits and a walk for Los Navegantes, but did not get to score. He walked in the top of the 1st but was left stranded. He doubled in the 3rd, but runners were left on second and third bases in that inning, and in the 9th, he singled and was again left on base.
Adelaide Bite 4, Canberra Cavalry 0 — Former Altoona Curve Paul Mildren pitched 8 stellar innings for the Bite, allowing only 2 hits and no walks, while striking out 9 Canberra batters. Mildren worked around a 2-out single and a batter reaching base on an error in the 2nd inning, then allowed a lead-off single in the 4th. Then he finished his night by retiring 15 straight batters. The Bite scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st, on a walk, a double, and a 2-RBI single by LF Quincy Latimore. A 2-run homer gave them some insurance in the 2nd inning, and that was all the scoring there would be in the game. Latimore singled again in the 5th inning, but was left on base.
Southpaw Donnie Veal will likely be back in Indianapolis in 2011. He has signed a minor league contract with the Pirates today, and has also been invited to the big league camp for Spring Training. After struggling through his mandatory year on the Pirates’ major league roster as a Rule 5 Draft pick in 2009, Veal was assigned to the AAA Indians to begin 2010. He made 9 starts for the Indians, with a 3-2 record and a 4.35 ERA over 49.2 innings before being shut down due to elbow issues. Veal had Tommy John surgery in early June, and is expected to be ready to go for Spring Training.
The signing of 1B Lyle Overbay is going to make things more difficult for the likes of Steve Pearce and Jeff Clement. Both are working their way back from knee problems. Pearce was granted one more option year because of his injuries last season.
Other news of minor league contracts signed: Former Pirate Denny Bautista has signed with the Mariners. INF Doug Bernier, who spent 2010 with the Indy Indians, signed with the Yankees. P Vinnie Chulk signed with the A’s. Former Pirate P Jonah Bayliss signed with the Rays. INF/OF Jonathan Van Every signed with the Nationals.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Wednesday’s winter league games:
Caribes de Anzoategui 4, Bravos de Margarita 0 — Los Bravos were held to just 3 hits, along with 2 walks. The first 13 Margarita batters went down in order before the first base runner reached on a walk. They had 2 runners on base in both the 6th and 8th innings, but could not get them around to score. Los Caribes scored one run in each of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, then one more in the 7th. In the 4th, LF Jose Tabata was hit by a pitch, then scored on an RBI double.
Tigres del Aragua 3, Cardenales de Lara 1 — A 2-run homer in the bottom of the 11th by C Wilson Ramos broke the 1-1 tie for Los Tigres. The homer came off Lara reliever Romulo Sanchez, who was charged with his second loss of the season. Each team scored a run in the 2nd inning. Los Cardenales’ rally was started with a single by former Pirate farmhand CF Ray Sadler, then another single and two walks forced in a run. Ramos doubled to lead off the bottom of the 2nd for Los Tigres. He scored on a single by 1B Hector Gimenez and a sacrifice fly. Both teams missed scoring opportunities in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, but there was only one base runner for either team over the next four innings — that was DH Lastings Milledge, who doubled in the 9th.