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.
The Pirates finished up a chilly mini-camp in Bradenton, and now there is just a month until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.
A few notes:
Wil Ledezma, who went to the Blue Jays last week (off waivers), was outrighted to the Blue Jays’ minor league system.
Last year’s Curve manager, Matt Walbeck, has found a job in the Braves’ organization, managing at the A level.
RHP Jorge Julio has been signed to a minor league contract, but has not been invited to the major league camp for spring training. The Venezuelan native was first signed by the Expos in 1996. He reached as high as the A+ level in the Expos organization before being traded to the Orioles at the end of 2000. Julio made his major league debut with the Orioles and pitched in Baltiore from 2001 to 2005. In early 2006, he was traded to the Mets (as part of a deal for former Pirate Kris Benson), then subsequently traded to the Diamondbacks, to the Marlins, and to the Rockies. In January 2008, Julio signed with the Cleveland Indians, and appeared in 15 games, all in relief, in the major league level. He pitched only 17 innings, with a 5.60 ERA, and was released in early June. He was signed by the Braves in the same season, and did well for them at both the AAA level (2.04 ERA in 39 innings in 38 appearances) and at the major league level (0.73 ERA in 12 innings in 12 appearances). Julio split the 2009 season between three organizations: The Brewers, the Rays, and the Pirates, right here in Indianapolis. For the Indy Indians, Julio made just 4 relief appearances, allowing 7 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings. He also made 19 appearances (22 innings) for a 5.96 ERA for the AAA Durham Bulls, and 15 appearances (17 innings) for a 7.79 ERA for the Milwaukee Brewers. During that time, his walk rate rose while his strikeout rate plummetted. Julio pitched for Bridgeport in the independent Atlantic League in 2010, and did well there. In 55 appearances, he pitched 55 innings and allowed only 7 earned runs on 39 hits, with 57 strikeouts, for a 1.15 ERA. Julio has also had a strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League over the past few months, with a 1.88 ERA for Los Caribes de Anzoategui. In 28.2 innings, he allowed 6 runs on 26 hits and 12 walks, with 22 strikeouts, and a 3-3 record and 6 saves. The Pirates are hoping that Julio, who will turn 32 in March, will be able to continue this trend in the 2011 season. Not inviting him to the big league camp seems to indicate that they want to see some proof, most likely at the AAA level.
Just a few winter league games on Thursday night (Click on “Read More”)
Cheering for the Pirates’ players and friends in winter league playoff action …
Tigres de Aragua 5, Bravos de Margarita 4 — A double and a single in the top of the 10th gave Los Tigres the winning run. Los Tigres had started the scoring in the top of the 1st, on three singles, including an RBI single by LF Lastings Milledge. Los Bravos countered with a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 4th. Milledge tied the score with a solo home run in the top of the 6th. With Jean Machi on the mound for Margarita in the top of the 8th, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a wild pitch put a Tigres’ batter on third base, and he scored on an RBI single. Machi came back to pitch a quick 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 9th. Los Bravos tied the score again in the bottom of the 9th on a solo homer. Los Tigres broke the tie in the top of the 10th, then held off Los Bravos in the bottom of the frame. Wil Ledezma pitched a perfect 6th inning for Los Tigres, then gave up a 2-out single in the 7th. C Raul Chavez and 1B Hector Gimenez picked that runner off first base to get Los Tigres out of the inning. Gimenez went 0-for-4 at the plate, and Chavez went 0-for-2. Miguel Perez came into the game as a late-inning defensive replacement behind the plate, but did not have a plate appearance.
Leones del Caracas 10, Caribes de Anzoategui 6 — Seven runs in the top of the 1st gave Los Leones an edge that Los Caribes could not overcome. Los Leones sent 11 batters to the plate in the 1st inning, and the first 6 batters reached base safely: single, single, walk, grand slam, single, single (by C Carlos Maldonado). After a pop out, LF Mike Ryan hit a 2-run homer, which was followed by a double, before the inning ended. Maldonado added another RBI single in the 2nd inning, and Caracas picked up another 2-run homer in the top of the 9th. Los Caribes scored in all but one of the first 6 innings, but four of those innings brought in just one run, not enough to catch up.
Cheering for Pirates’ players (the few who are left) and friends in the winter leagues……
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce 6, Gigantes de Carolina 3 — Four runs in the bottom of the 8th gave the game to Los Leones. Two walks and four singles did the damage in that inning. Reliever RJ Rodriguez came on to pitch the top of the 9th for Ponce. He gave up a run on two singles and a sacrifice fly, though it was not enough for Los Gigantes to catch up.
Criollos de Caguas 7, Senadores de San Juan 3 — A 5-run 3rd inning made the difference for Los Criollos. Two singles put runners on the corners, then SS Luis Figueroa drove in the first run with an RBI single. A triple and a homer added two runs each. 3B Ramon Vazquez walked to begin the Caguas half of the 4th, and two more walks loaded the bases. Figueroa brought in Vazquez with a sacrifice fly. Vazquez also contributed an RBI single in the 5th. Los Senadores posted 13 runs, but left 12 runners on base.
The four teams involved in the Puerto Rican League playoffs are not far apart after one week of the round robin playoff tournament. Ponce is in first place, with a 4-2 record. Caguas and San Juan are tied for second with 3-3 records. Carolina is last, with a 2-4 record.
The two top teams in this round robin tournament did not play today — Los Caribes and Los Leones de Caracas are both tied with 4-1 records. Los Tigres de Aragua has a 3-3 record, Los Aguilas de Zulia are 2-4, and Los Bravos de Margarita won their first playoff game tonight, giving them a 1-4 record.
Bravos de Margarita 1, Aguilas de Zulia 0 — Jean Machi pitched a scoreless 8th inning for Los Bravos, allowing a single, but then erasing that runner in a double play. The game’s only run came in the bottom of the 7th, on a single, a sacrifice bunt, and a RBI single.
Tigres de Aragua 8, Caribes de Anzoategui 0 — Aragua starter Seth Etherton (Dodgers) held Los Caribes to 3 hits and no walks over 8 shutout innings, with 6 strikeouts for the win. New Blue Jay Wil Ledezma finished the game with a scoreless 9th, working around a lead-off single. Los Tigres hitters packed in 16 hits, and started their scoring with 2 runs in the 1st. LF Lastings Milledge had a single in that inning. Milledge singled in two runs in the 6th, following another single and 1B Hector Gimenez being hit by a pitch. Gimenez added a 3-run homer in the 7th. After the homer, Milledge walked, CF Jorge Cortes singled, and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Another single up the middle brought in Milledge, but Cortes was thrown out at the plate as he tried to score from second base.
Not many winter league playoff games today, but a few player moves:
LHP Wil Ledezma had been DFA’ed right before Christmas, and yesterday he was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays.
Both INF Delwyn Young and RHP Brian Bass signed minor league contracts with the Phillies today.
Earlier in the week, RHP Joe Martinez, who had also been DFA’ed by the Pirates shortly before Christmas, was traded to the Blue Jays for cash considerations.
Leones del Caracas 11, Bravos de Margarita 3 — Los Leones posted 14 hits, which was enough to make up for their 3 errors. Three singles and a Bravos’ fielding error gave Los Leones their first 3 runs in the 2nd inning. In the third, the first six Caracas batters reached base — a double, two singles, and three walks (including a walk by LF Mike Ryan) — then a sacrifice fly and another single gave Los Leones 5 runs. A 3-run homer in the 8th capped their scoring. Margarita scored one run in the 6th, with the help of one of those errors. An error by Ryan in left field, plus a walk and two singles (one by C JR House) brought in two more runs in the 9th. Ronald Uviedo earned the win for Caracas, going 6 innings and allowing only the unearned run in the 6th inning, on 3 hits and a walk, with 5 strikeouts.
Caribes de Anzoategui 5, Tigres de Aragua 4 — New Blue Jay Wil Ledezma came into the game for Los Tigres in the 6th inning with one run in and runners on the corners. Ledezma gave up a single, which broke a 4-4 tie, and eventually gave the win to Los Caribes. Ledezma also retired the side in order in the 7th. Los Caribes started the game with 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st, on a single, a double, an error, and a sacrifice fly. Los Tigres scored one run in the 2nd, when 1B Hector Gimenez walked, then scored on an RBI double. Gimenez added a 2-run homer in the 4th, and another homer in the 5th gave Aragua their 4 runs. LF Lastings Milledge singled and stole second base in the 6th, and advanced to third base on another single, but he got no further. C Raul Chavez went 0-for-3 for Los Tigres.