Winter League Update - C. Martinez Keeps Aragua Alive

January 17th, 2021

Carlos Martinez got behind early 3-0 by giving up back to back homeruns to Ronald Guzman and Kelvin Gutierrez in the first, but the Aguilas bats came alive to down the Gigantes 9-3. After the two homeruns Martinez shut out the Gigantes through six innings.

Aguilas pulled to within one run with back to back solo shots from Ramon Torres and Juan Lagares. Torres added a two out RBI single in the seventh to tie the game 3-3. In the eighth a five run out burst put the game out of reach, Torres also adding an RBI single in the inning to finish the game with three RBIs on a 4 for 5 day. Melky Cabrera had the RBI single in the eighth that broke the 3-3 tie.

Mexico

Ricardo Serrano slugged a two run homer in the seventh to give Monterrey a 6-5 win over Hermosa to even the series at two games apiece. Paulo Orlando hit an RBI double prior to the homerun to put the Sultanes to within one run. Alberto Carreon went 2 for 3 with fours runs scored. Jeff Johnson pitched the ninth inning and despite giving up two hits earned the save. The Sultanes needed nine different pitchers to win the game.

Manny Barreda outdueled Andre Rienzo to shake out a 1-0 win for Culiacan over Obregon. Barreda went seven innings giving up just two hits. Andre Rienzo lasted five innings, giving up just the lone run in the third on a sacrifice fly by Ramiro Pena in the third. Yoelkis Guibert opened the inning with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a bunt. Alberto Baldanado gave up a leadoff single in the ninth but retired the next three batters, the last two on strikeouts to chalk up the save.

Gigantes One Win Away From Series Del Caribe

January 16th, 2021

Dominican Republic

Richelson Pena threw seven innings of shutout three hit ball to put the Gigantes within one win of the Series del Caribe with the 5-0 win. Gigantes also got solo homeruns from Juan Francisco and Peter O’Brien in the fourth inning. Jose Siri also added a solo shot in the fifth inning. Ronald Guzman went 4 for 5 to increase his average to .588.

Mexico

Courtney Hawkins slugged a two run homer in the sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie to give Monterrey a 5-3 win over Hermosa, their first victory in the three games. The bullpen of the Sultanes shut out Hermosa for the final three innings, Jeff Johnson pitching the ninth inning, striking out three for the save. Paulo Orlando had crushed in two run double in the fifth inning to give Monterrey a 3-0 lead. Jose Cardona tied it with one swing in the sixth with a three run homer.

Obregon also won their first game with a 5-2 win over Culiacan. A three run explosion in the first proved the difference in the game, fueled by a two run homer from Victor Mendoza and an RBI double from Jonathan Aranda. One of the hottest hitters for Culiacan came up with the bases loaded and two outs representing the winning run and grounded out. Castillo was 3 for 4 for the game and hitting over .700 with 8 RBIs coming into the at bat. Leandro Castro contributed a solo homerun for Obregon in the fifth.

Venezuela

An 11 run ninth inning gave Lara a 19-10 win over Aragua. Lara managed only 12 hits, but they equaled that number in the walks. Lara nickled and dimed the pitching staff with five singles, four walks and two hit by pitches in the 11 run ninth. They hit two doubles later in the inning. Osman Marval, Yordanys Linares and Cesar Puello each scored three times. Linares also drove in three runs and Puello walked four times in five at bats. Cesar Hernandez also walked four times.

Roel Santos, the speedy leadoff hitter from Cuba, finished the day 5 for 5 with one double, two triples and five RBIs for Aragua. Ronald Belasario could only retire two hitters before coughing up six runs to blow the save.

Magallanas also won their first game over Orientes with a 4-1 win. The Navegantes used seven different pitchers to secure the win. Three solo homeruns proved the difference in the game, hit by Leonardo Reginatto in the first, Danny Vasquez in the eighth and Renato Nunez also in the eighth. Vasquez also went 3 for 4 with two doubles.

Winter League Playoff Update - Nail biters in Venezuela

January 15th, 2021

The Dominican Republic and Mexico had off days. Puerto Rico appears to be in corona virus lockdown. So the only two games played were in Venezuela, where both were nail biters. Both losing teams from the opening series won, leaving each series at one win and one loss.

Magallanas scored in the opening frame in their game against Caribes after a Cade Gotta leadoff double. He scored after two groundouts. Caribes tied it in the second inning with an RBI double by Jesus Sucre. The winning hit came in the fourth after an RBI single by Alberth Martinez single. After that the bullpens took over keeping the game scoreless the Caribes were on the winning end 2-1.

Wilfredo Boscan survived five innings, giving up the one run to get the win. Four relievers followed, each working one shutout inning. Jorge Rondon took charge of the final inning to pick up the save. Andres Machado gave Caribes seven innings, scattering nine hits but giving up the two runs to take the loss.

In the other game, Lara rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 4-3 lead. A fielding error by Cesar Hernandez allowed two runs to score giving Aragua the lead and the eventual 5-4 win. Ronald Belasario, who retired two batters in the eighth came on in the ninth to finish the game to secure the victory.

Gorkys Hernandez mashed a solo shot in the fourth and a sacrifice fly in the eighth for two RBIs in a losing cause for Lara. Yordanys Linares also contributed a solo shot, his in the eighth. Aragua got a solo homerun from Ramon Cabrera in the second inning. Alexi Amarista went 2 for 3 with two walks, a double and a critical two run single in the third.

Winter League Update - Aguilas Gets a Win

January 14th, 2021

Dominican Republic

Aguilas wrapped up their first win over Gigantes 6-3 to put the series at two games to one. They jumped out to an early 4-0 lead until Gigantes rallied for three in the sixth to close the gap. Two of the three runs were the result back to back solo shots from Juan Francisco and Peter O’Brien. Francisco Pena gave Aguilas a bit of comfort with his two run homerun in the eighth to elevate their lead to 6-3. Pena finished the game a perfect 3 for 3 with one walk, three runs scored and two RBIs.

Aguilas pitcher Andy Otero threw 5.1 scoreless innings. Gregory Soto worked the ninth to earn the save.

Venezuela

Some wild playoff openers in Venezuela. Caribes won their opener 12-9 erupting for back to back five run innings in the fifth and sixth. Oswaldo Arcia contributed a grand slam in the fifth and finished with six RBIs on the day. Willians Astudillo drove in four runs on a 3 for 4 day. The duo contributed driving in 10 of the Caribes 12 runs.

Renato Nunez hit a three run homer for Navegantes in the loss to make the game close.

Lara edged out Aragua 7-6 in their opener. Aragua had scored three in the top of the eighth to take a 6-4 lead. Lara responded with three in the bottom frame, the final two scoring on a Cesar Hernandez two run single. Pedro Rodriguez gave up two hits in the ninth, but still managed to earn the save by retiring the final two batters while leaving the tying run on second.

Henry Rodriguez got four hits for Aragua and Jose Martinez three. Ildemaro Vargas was the hitting star for Lara, going 3 for 4 with a double, triple and three runs scored. Carlos Rivera hit a solo shot to lead off the eighth to gather momentum for a three run rally.

Mexico

Both teams lead their series two games to none. Culiacan beat Obregon 6-1. Edgar Arredondo went 6.1 innings and only allowed a solo blast to Victor Mendoza for Obregon’s only run. Jessie Castillo was again the hot bat for Culiacan, going 4 for 4 with two doubles, a homerun and three RBIs. His three runs driven in were on a homerun in the fourth. He is batting .750 with seven runs batted in and two homeruns in the first two games.

Hermosa clipped Monterrey in the other game 2-1. Niko Vasquez delivered the walk off hit with a one out single in the ninth to score Isaac Paredes, who had walked. In the eighth Jose Cardona singled for Hermosa to tie the game 1-1.

Edgar Gonzalez worked six brilliant innings for Monterrey in a losing cause, not allowing a run and giving up just three hits. Cesar Vargas went 5.1 innings, giving up a solo shot to Ricardo Serrano in the sixth. Heriberto Ruelas got the win by shutting out Monterrey in the top of the ninth.

Nicaraguan Baseball Championships

January 14th, 2021

The Tigres de Chinandega are playing against the Gigantes de Rivas in the Nicaraguan Winter League baseball championships. The Tigres won the opener 12-4. Tigers starting pitcher Alexander Santana limited the Gigantes bats to one hit in six innings. With a 10-0 the Tigres went to their bullpen and the Gigantes bats started producing, but not enough to win the game.

Jesus Lopez was the big bat for Tigres driving in four runs on two hits.

Gigantes won game two 5-2. Tigres starting pitcher Pedro Fernandez worked six shutout innings before tiring in the seventh. Gigantes pitcher Yohan Flande gave up two runs in his seven innings of work. The Gigantes rallied for five runs in the seventh and eighth innings to take the game, three of those runs unearned.

Isaac Benard drove in two runs and scored once to lead the offense. His two run single in the seventh tied the game at 2-2. Luis Allen did not get a hit in the game, but his walks in the seventh and eighth innings allowed him to score twice. Christopher Roberson went 3 for 5, including an RBI double in the eighth. Norman St. Clair worked the last two innings without allowing a hit, striking out four to earn the save for Gigantes.

Sugano to Play in MLB on his Terms

January 13th, 2021

There were enough major league teams bidding for Yomuiri Giants star pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano that he could have signed with one of them. He was even willing to take less money to play in the major leagues. But none of those major league teams were able to meet his terms. So he returned to Japan to sign for a pretty good four year $40 million contract that will allow him to live comfortably in Japan. And if a major league team wants to sign him next year he will be available. But they need to offer him a contract that he can accept, and a life that he can accept. Otherwise he has the option to go back to Japan and pitch for the Yomiuri Giants.

There is also a bit of turmoil in the major leagues and the United States that does not make it so attractive to live and work here. There is no certainty that there will be a season in 2022. The players and the major leagues have not come to any agreement so there could be a strike impacting any salaries that were negotiated in a contract. Heck. There is some uncertainty about having a 2021 season with the corona virus spreading much more heavily in the United States cities than Japan. There was even an attempted coup attempt that reminds people of what happens in other less settled countries.

So any contract Sugano signed for this year had the potential of being heavily impacted by whether there would be a 2021 or 2022 complete season. Perhaps as the major league season progresses they will get their house in order so that they can attract a player like Sugano, but not under the present chaotic circumstances that exist currently with major league baseball and the United States.

Winter League Update - Gigantes Continues to Roll

January 13th, 2021

The Winter League playoffs continue. Mexico began their second round of the playoffs. Venezuela begins their playoffs today. Puerto Rico is a mystery as one of their playoff games had to be postponed because of the corona virus. Below is a summary of the games yesterday.

Gigantes 6 Aguilas 2

Aguilas scored a quick two runs but then Paolo Espino quieted them through six innings. Yunesky Maya was the starter for Aguilas. Moises Sierra got to Maya with a leadoff single in the second. Carlos Peguero followed with a double. Peter O’Brien drove in Sierra with a deep fly out to right field. Richard Urena tied the game with a single.

The Gigantes took the lead in the third inning, Jose Siri getting the inning started with a one out triple. Ronald Guzman drove him in with an RBI single. After that it was all Espino and the bullpen keeping the Aguilas bats silenced.

The Gigantes did add an insurance run in the sixth on an RBI double by Urena, his second RBI of the game. They added two more in the seventh on RBI doubles from Ronald Guzman and Kelvin Gutierrez. Jumbo Diaz came on in the ninth to close out the game.

The Gigantes now lead the series two games to none.

Culiacan 10 Obregon 7

This was a battle of the offense. Obregon jumped out to an early 5-2 lead after two innings. Dariel Alvarez sliced a two run single in the first and Obregon added three more in the second, two of them scoring on a Victor Mendoza two run double.

Culiacan came back to tie the game 5-5 with a three run fifth inning. Jessie Castillo hit a two run double to fuel the inning. Obregon responded with two of their own to take a 7-5 lead, the key hit a Leandro Castro two run single. Castro finished the game 3 for 5 with three RBIs.

Culiacan recaptured the lead in the fifth with three runs. Michael Wing hit a sacrifice fly and then Jessie Castillo had the big hit with a two run homer to give Culiacan the lead 8-7. Castillo finished the game with four RBIs.

The pitching showed up for the last 4.5 innings. Only Culiacan could score any runs, both driven in by Sebastion Elizalde, one on a solo blast in the seventh, and the other a sacrifice fly in the ninth. Sasagi Sanchez and Alberto Baldonado each pitched a perfect final two innings to secure the win.

Hermosillo 2 Monterrey 0

The second playoff game for Mexico was a sharp contrast to the first game, with pitchers dominating. Juan Pablo Oramas lasted seven innings, shutting out Monterrey on four hits while striking out eight. Romario Gil gave up two unearned runs in the third, but after that pitched six masterful innings. Isaac Paredes drove in both runs with a two run homer, after a two out error by shortstop Roberto Valenzuela allowed the third inning to continue. Robinson Leyer worked the ninth to earn the save, issuing a one out walk to Ricardo Serrano. Roberto Valenzuela came up in the ninth representing the tying run at the plate but popped out to short to end the game.

Gigantes Wins Opener

January 12th, 2021

The only winter league playoff game was being played in the Dominican Republic. Gigantes ruled over Aguilas with a convincing 5-1 win in the finals of the Winter League playoffs. Cesar Valdes lasted five innings, allowing just two hits for Gigantes. One of those hits was a solo shot by Francisco Pena.

The Gigantes did not homer but they strung together 11 hits to score five runs. Ronald Guzman hit two doubles and scored twice. Kelvin Gutierrez went 3 for 4 with two runs drive in. One player who struggled was Oneil Cruz, who struck out in all four of his at bats, stranding six baserunners. Fortunately, the Gigantes survived without his bat.

Four different relief pitchers for Gigantes each worked one inning of shutout ball. Jumbo Diaz worked the last inning, retiring the Aguilas bats in order. Joe Van Meter struggled for Aguilas, failing to get past the second inning after giving up six hits and three runs.

Blue Sox Release Manny

January 11th, 2021

Manny Ramirez Australian career did not last long. The Sydney Blue Sox had signed Manny to play for the team. An undisclosed injury, which was later reported to be an oblique injury prevented him from starting the season in December. The plan was for him to coach the team but then the corona virus smacked the Australian baseball season.

After playing two early games on December 17 and 18 the Sydney Blue Sox have not played since. Government policy has put a quarantine on the area (New South Wales) and teams are prevented from travelling to or leaving the area where Sydney plays their home games. This put a level of uncertainty to the season, which was used as the reason to release Ramirez.

An announcement is expected soon for when Sydney can restart their season. The Melbourne Aces have played 12 games while most of the other teams have only played four or five games. The corona virus is playing havoc on the schedule makers.

Winter League Playoffs - Aguilas Advances

January 10th, 2021

Aguilas will play Gigantes in the finals to see who will represent the Dominican Republic in the Series del Caribe. Aguilas won the big seventh game 5-1, getting five strong shutout innings from Marcos Diplan. Marcos allowed two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six.

Juan Lagares was the offensive sparkplug for Aguilas. He smashed a three run homer in the third to give Aguilas an early 3-0 lead. He also added an RBI single in the seventh to make the score 4-0. A wild pitch in that inning scored the fifth run.

Toros loaded the bases off Gregory Soto in the ninth on a single and two walks. Another walk forced in the first run for Toros bringing Jorge Mateo to the plate as the tying run. He struck out to end the game.

Monterrey, Obregon, Culiacan and Hermosillo all advance in the Mexican playoffs. All the games went six.

Monterrey blasted Mexicali 7-2. Paulo Orlando hit a two run homer in the third to give them an early 2-0 lead. Roberto Valenzuela and Gilberto Galiviz also contributed two RBIs in the victory.

Obregon easily defeated Jalisco 8-1 in six games. Jonathan Aranda hit a two run homer and Leandro Castro also added two RBIs. Orlando Pina went a perfect 2 for 2 with two singles, two walks and three runs scored. Jalisco could only manage three hits against five different Obregon pitchers.

Culiacan nipped Guasave 4-3. Michael Wing broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth with an RBI single. Manny Barreda left the game after six innings with a 3-1 lead, allowing just one run on one hit. The bullpen could not protect the lead with Alejandro Ortiz slicing a two run double into right field to tie the game. Alberto Baldonado retired the last five hitters he faced to earn the save.

Hermosillo got seven shutout innings from Ryan Verdugo to pull out a 1-0 win over Mazatlan. Francisco Rios pitched seven strong innings for Mazatlan. The only run scored in the second inning on a ground out.