Tag: RJ Rodriguez

RBIs For Milledge and Gimenez; Two Homers For Latimore

Ten weeks until Opening Day for the minor league season....  just in case anyone besides me is counting.

Three playoff games on Wednesday evening, plus the Australians begin their playoffs early on Thursday morning.  I'll be away from the computer for a couple of days, but we'll catch up after that.

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas  7,  Leones de Ponce  2  --  
Los Criollos forced a seventh game with a win over Los Leones.  Caguas broke a 1-1 tie with 2 runs in the top of the 4th, on a hit batter and a pair of RBI doubles.  That 3-1 score lasted until the top of the 9th, when JR Rodriguez took the mound in relief for Ponce.  Rodriguez had an uncharacteristically tough night, giving up a single and a walk, and then having a batter reaches on a fielding error to load the bases.  Then Caguas' 3B Rey Navarro smashed a grand slam to seal Los Leones' fate.  Ponce added one more run with a single, a walk, and a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 9th.  The final game of the series will be played on Friday night.

 
VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Tigres de Aragua  8,  Caribes de Anzoategui  4  --  
Los Tigres won their first game of the championship series tonight, with both LF Lastings Milledge and 1B Hector Gimenez contributing an RBI.  The game began in a shaky way for Los Tigres, as the first three Caribes' batters in the top of the first all walked, then a run scored on a sacrifice fly.  A solo home run began the top of the 2nd for Los Caribes, and a single and a double added another run.  Los Tigres got going in the bottom of the 2nd with a double and a   fielding error, then an RBI double by Milledge and a sacrifice fly by Gimenez.  Aragua tied the score at 3-3 in the bottom of the 5th with two walks, including one by CF Jorge Cortes, and an RBI single.  Los Caribes went ahead with a solo homer in the top of the 6th, but Los Tigres tied it again in the bottom of the frame with three singles, one by Gimenez.  Aragua took a definitive lead in the 7th with a 3-run homer, then added an insurance run in the 8th with a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI single.  Wil Ledezma came out to pitch the top of the 8th for Aragua.  He walked the first batter he faced, then got a strikeout, then another walk, and was removed.  Another reliever came on to strike out the next two batters to end the inning.  

Roster Updates And Playoff Games

An update on some recent roster moves by the Pirates:

Pitcher Jose Veras took a few days, but did sign a minor league contract with the Pirates.  Veras is a 30-year-old who was first signed by the Rays in 1998.  He began playing in the US in 2002, and split both the 2003 and 2004 at the AA and AAA levels.  He was granted free agency after 2004 and was signed by the Rangers for 2005, spending that season at the AAA level, where he made 57 relief appearances with a 3.80 ERA.  Veras signed with the Yankees after that, and pitched in their organization for the next 3+ seasons.  He split that time between the AAA level (2.56 ERA in 95 innings, with 115 strikeouts) and the major league club (4.50 ERA in 102 innings, with 94 strikeouts).  The 2008 season was his best of those, with 60 relief appearances for the Yankees and 3.59 ERA and a 5-3 record.  In 2009, the Yankees traded Veras to the Cleveland Indians, where he finished the last 3 months of the season.  The Dominican native made 22 relief appearances for Cleveland with a 1-2 record and a 4.38 ERA, with 22 strikeouts.  He signed with the Marlins for 2010 and began the season in AAA New Orleans.  He began the season slowly, but got better in May and was tough in June:  a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings (10 games) with 12 strikeouts.  That earned him a promotion to the Marlins, where he finished the season with 48 relief appearances.  In 48 innings, he earned a 3-3 record and a 3.75 ERA with 54 strikeouts.  Veras did not play winter ball this off-season.  The righty will be competing for a spot in the Pirates' bullpen

C Wyatt Toregas has also been inked to a minor league contract.  He was the Cleveland Indians' 24th pick in the 2004 draft, and began his pro career in 2005, reaching the AAA level in 3008 and the major leagues in 2009.  Toregas hit .284 for the Columbus Clippers (AAA) in 60 games in 2009, with 7 homers and 69 RBI.  In 19 appearances for the Indians in that season, he hit only.176 with 6 RBI.  The Virginia native was still on the Indians' 40-man roster at the beginning of 2010, but spent the entire season in the minor leagues, possibly battling injuries.  At AA Akron, he got into just 17 games, hitting .203 with one home run and 6 RBI.  At AAA Columbus, he was in just 14 games and hit .200 with 2 homers and 6 RBI.  He has a slim chance of sticking with the Pirates out of spring training, but will more likely be in Indianapolis to begin 2011.

In addition to Veras and Toregas, a few other minor leaguers have been invited to big league camp for spring training:  catchers Tony Sanchez and Eric Fryer, infielders Chase d'Arnaud and Brian Friday, and outfielder Andrew Lambo.  


Save For Rodriguez, Win For Machi

A few signing notes for former Pirates, all minor league contracts:  
1B Brad Eldred signed with the Giants,  P Ian Snell and INF Ramon Vazquez signed with the Cardinals, and OF Matt Kata signed with the Rangers.  


Cheering for a few Pirates' players and friends in the winter league playoffs....

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce  2,  Criollos de Caguas  1  --  
RJ Rodriguez earned his 3rd save of the playoffs with a perfect 9th inning of work.  Los Leones scored their runs in the 4th, on three straight hits -- a single and two doubles.  Los Criollos' only run came in the top of the 6th, on a double, a ground out by SS Luis Figueroa which moved the runner to third, and a RBI single.  3B Ramon Vazquez singled to lead off the 5th for Los Criollos, but he was caught stealing second base.

Gigantes de Carolina  5,  Senadores de San Juan  4  --  Benji Gonzalez made the start at second base for Los Gigantes, and he scored their first run.  In the bottom of the 1st, Gonzalez singled, advanced to third on a throwing error, and scored on a sacrifice fly.  San Juan scored 3 runs in the top of the 2nd, and Los Gigantes countered with a run in the bottom of the 3rd, on 3 singles.  They tied the score in the 7th with a double, a hit batter, and an RBI single.  The tie continued into the top of the 10th, when Los Senadores took the lead with a single and a double.  But four singles in the bottom of the inning drove in 2 runs to give Los Gigantes the win.

Sullivan Earns A Win

The Dominican and Puerto Rican Leagues wind up their round-robin playoff series this weekend, while the Venezuelans continue theirs for another week or so.  

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas  5,  Gigantes de Carolina  2  --  
Los Criollos began the scoring with a fly out-RBI for 3B Ramon Vazquez after two singles.  An RBI single gave them a run in the 3rd, and a 2-run homer made it 4-0 in the 5th.  Los Criollos wrapped it up with a run in the top of the 7th, on two singles, a walk, and a throwing error.  Carolina scratched out a run in both the 7th and 8th innings.  SS Luis Figueroa singled and walked for Los Criollos, but did not score.

Leones de Ponce  7,  Senadores de San Juan  2  --  A 4-run inning in the top of the 8th gave Los Leones the win.  San Juan out-hit Ponce, 10 - 9, but they couldn't bring the runners around, leaving 11 on base.  RJ Rodriguez pitched the bottom of the 9th for Ponce, but gave up three consecutive singles to open the inning, which drove in one run.  He struck out two, then loaded the bases with another single, then ended the inning with a grounder force out.


VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Aguilas de Zulia  7,  Bravos de Margarita  4  --  
Los Bravos got the game started with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on three singles and two throwing errors.  But Los Aguilas scored a run in the bottom of the 1st, another in the 3rd, and took the lead with a 3-run homer in the 5th.  They added a run on a double and a triple in the 6th, and their 7th run on a double, a hit batter, and a single in the 7th.  Jhonathan Ramos came on in relief for Los Bravos after that run scored in the 7th, and he ended the inning with a ground out.  Ramos came back out to begin the bottom of the 8th.  The first batter of the inning reached on a fielding error, then Ramos gave up a single.  A ground out and a line out followed, and then Ramos was relieved.  Another ground out ended the inning without a run scoring.  

Caribes de Anzoategui  6,  Leones de Caracas  5  --  This one took 13 innings to decide.  Los Leones broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 8th when C Carlos Maldonado started a rally with a single.  He was replace by a pinch-runner, who scored on an RBI single.  Los Caribes tied the score again with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 9th, and the game went into extras.  Neither team could get much going in the 10th or 11th, and though Los Caribes threatened in the bottom of the 12th, they still could not get a run across.  Los Leones broke the tie in the top of the 13th.  A double, an intentional walk, and a fielder's choice loaded the bases.  A grounder to third was fired back to the plate, for a force out at home.  Then LF Mike Ryan, who had already singled twice and walked three times in the game, grounded to second base.  The runner going from first to second was out, but Ryan was able to beat out the throw to first, and a run scored.  But Los Caribes were not done yet -- a single and two walks loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame, and a line drive single into left field drove in two runs for the win.  Jose Ascanio pitched a perfect inning in the bottom of the 8th for Caracas.

Homers For Milledge, Ryan, and Cruz

Cheering for the Pirates' players and friends in winter league playoff action ...

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
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.

Strong Innings by Ledezma and Machi

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.  


VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
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.  


Milledge Drives In The Winning Run For Aragua

The Caribbean leagues continue their playoffs, though the Mexican Pacific League has the night off....

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce  5,  Senadores de San Juan  2  --  
Reliever JR Rodriguez earned his first playoff save with a perfect 9th inning for Los Leones.  His teammates broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 7th with a 2-run homer, followed by another run on two singles, a sacrifice bunt, and a wild pitch.

Criollos de Caguas  4,  Gigantes de Carolina  0  --  Los Gigantes were held to just 4 hits, and even with 5 walks, they could not push a run across the plate.  Los Criollos were held to just 3 hits, but they took advantage of 7 walks, 3 hit batters, and 2 errors to score their 4 runs.  Their first run came in the bottom of the 1st, on a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt by SS Luis Figueroa, two walks, and a sacrifice fly.  3B Ramon Vazquez led off the 4th with a single, and he came around to score with help from a bunt, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly.  Los Criollos' final two runs scored in the 6th, and with just one hit.  Vazquez reached on a fielding error, then a hit batter, a balk, and a sacrifice fly brought him in.  Figueroa drove in the final run with an RBI double.


DOMINICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes del Cibao  7,  Toros del Este  5  --  
Los Toros began the scoring with 4 runs in the bottom of the 4th -- three singles, and a 3-run homer.  Los Gigantes answered with 4 runs of their own in the top of the 5th, on 5 singles and a sacrifice fly.  One of the singles, which loaded the bases, came off the bat of CF Rich Thompson.  Los Toros scored one more run in the bottom of the 5th, but Los Gigantes scored 3 in the top of the 7th, with 4 singles and a sacrifice fly.  

Leones del Escogido  2,  Estrellas de Oriente  1  --  Ronny Paulino, making a rare appearance playing first base, drove in Los Estrellas only run with an RBI ground out in the 1st inning.  With one out in the 6th, Los Leones popped two singles.  Franquelis Osoria came on to pitch for Los Estrellas, but the only batter he faced hit an RBI single to tie the game.  Another single brought in the go-ahead run.  


Milledge, Gimenez, and Paulino Get A Few Hits

The Pirates got the new year started by signing Brian Burres to a minor league contract.  He will be at the major league spring training camp, competing for a position on the big league club.

The Caribbean winter leagues continue their playoffs, and we continue to cheer for the Pirates' players and friends who are involved...

DOMINICAN LEAGUE
Toros del Este  8,  Gigantes del Cibao  1  --
 Los Gigantes scored a run on two singles and a throwing error in the 1st inning.  After that, it was all Los Toros.  Los Toros scored 2 in the 4th, 4 in the 7th, and 2 in the 8th, as they posted a total of 14 hits.  RF Rich Thompson singled for Los Gigantes in the 2nd inning, and he made a fielding error in the 4th.

Leones del Escogido  3,  Estrellas de Oriente  0  --  Los Estrellas recorded 5 hits, including a pair of singles by DH Ronny Paulino, but could not push any of their runners across the plate.  Los Leones had just 4 hits.  They used one, plus a hit batter and a fielding error, to score one run in the 5th.  Two more runs came in in the 6th inning, on a pair of walks, a sacrifice bunt, a balk, and a fielder's choice.  


PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Senadores de San Juan  4,  Criollos de Caguas  1  --  
Los Senadores' 3-run 7th inning broke a 1-1 tie and earned them the win.  A single, two doubles, and three walks were responsible for the 3 runs.  Neither SS Luis Figueroa nor 3B Ramon Vazquez had a hit for Los Criollos.  

Gigantes de Carolina  9, Leones de Ponce  8  --  Finally, in the bottom of the 15th, a walk and two singles gave Los Gigantes the winning run.  Los Leones were leading 8-5 going into the bottom of the 9th.  Ponce reliever RJ Rodriguez had gotten out of a bases-loaded jam in the 8th with two pop outs.  He started the 9th with two ground outs, then gave up a single and a wild pitch, putting a runner on third base.  A double drove in that runner, then a walk and two singles tied the score, sending the game into extras, and putting Rodriguez on the hook for a Blown Save.  Each team had at least one runner on base in each of the next three innings, and Los Gigantes collected 3 walks to load the bases in the 11th, but no one scored.  Both teams went down in order in the 13th, then both teams continued to put runners on base, until Los Gigantes finished it off in the 15th.  Benji Gonzalez pinch-ran for Los Gigantes in the 8th, but was left on base.  He played second base for an inning, then was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

Low-Hitting Playoff Games, Good Inning For Ascanio

Cheering for the Pirates' players and friends in Sunday's winter league play...

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE   (playoffs)
Criollos de Caguas  5,  Gigantes de Carolina  0  --  
Caguas' starter Dylan Owen (Mets) pitched 7 no-hit innings, and two relievers finished the deal with a string of 6 consecutive ground outs.  Owen walked 2 Carolina batters, one to lead off the 2nd, and one to lead off the 7th.  Los Criollos scored one run in the 4th.  The bottom of the 5th began with a walk by 3B Ramon Vazquez, then a bunt and a throwing error put runners on the corners, and a walk loaded the bases.  SS Luis Figueroa bounced into a double play, but that let Vazquez score from third base.  Two RBI singles brought in two more runs.  A walk and two throwing errors (5 total errors for Los Gigantes) gave Caguas their final run in the 7th.


Leones de Ponce  5,  Senadores de San Juan  4  --  Los Leones were leading 4-2 going into the top of the 8th, which opened with a walk.  Los Leones brought in RJ Rodriguez to pitch, but he gave up a walk and made a throwing error, with allowed a run to come in.  A hit batter and an RBI grounder tied the score, and Rodriguez was charged with a Blown Save.  Rodriguez retired the side on three ground outs in the top of the 9th, and in the bottom of the 9th, he was saved.  A hit batter, a double, and a walk-off single gave Ponce and Rodriguez the win.


DOMINICAN LEAGUE (playoffs)
Estrellas de Oriente  2,  Leones del Escogido  1  --  
Not a lot of hits in this game either.  Los Leones were held to 3 hits, and scored one run in the 1st, on a single a walk, and a wild pitch.  Los Estrellas tied the score with a solo homer in the 3rd.  They took the lead in the 6th on back-to-back doubles, the first by DH Ronny Paulino.  Franquelis Osoria pitched to one batter in the 4th for Los Estrellas.  He threw a wild pitch, but got a strikeout.


Big Night For Paulino And Mildren

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.  


VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
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.


AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE
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.  

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