The Saltillo Saraperos and Quintana Roo Tigres are opening the Mexican League Championship Series this weekend with two games in Saltillo.
Saltillo enters the LMB Finals with a seven-game playoff winning streak after losing two of their first three games against the Reynosa Broncos in the Northern Zone semifinals. The Saraperos won the final three games of their opening round series before sweeping away the surprising Laguna Vaqueros in four games in the North final.
Among Saraperos batters, Refugio Cervantes has come up with some big games. Cervantes went 3-for-3 with a game-winning homer in Saltillo’s 5-4 win over Reynosa on August 6. He also doubled, scored two runs and drove in two more in that contest. Then, during the LMB North finals, Cervantes was 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs in the Saraperos’ 9-0 shutout of Laguna on August 12, and followed that two nights later by breaking a 4-all tie with an eighth-inning homer as Saltillo slipped past the Vaqueros, 5-4, in Game 3.
Pitching-wise, it would be hard to top the job starter Jose Mercedes has done for Saltillo in the postseason. Mercedes won two games in the opening round against Reynosa, including the series clincher on August 8, tossing 14 shutout innings in the process. He then came back to win the fourth game of the Saraperos’ sweep of Laguna on August 15, letting in one run in seven innings of a 9-1 rout in Torreon.
Quintana Roo has had a tougher time in the Mexican League South, being stretched to seven games before finally eliminating Campeche, 4 games to 3, in the first round before needing five games to dispatch Puebla in the LMB South finals.
While Saltillo has gotten it done with pitching in the postseason, posting a 2.57 ERA during their seven-game winning streak, the Tigres have bludgeoned their opponents at the plate. After scoring 50 runs in their seven-game set with Campeche, Quintana Roo racked up 52 more tallies in five games against Puebla to enter the finals averaging 8.5 runs over 12 playoff games. Derrick White has had a pair of two-homer games, while Albino Contreras and Ricardo Vasquez have hit grand slams.
Quintana Roo is not just about piling up runs, however. Francisco Cordova won two games in the LMB South finals by letting in just two Pericos runs in 12.2 innings on the mound, while veteran Pablo Ortega is one of Mexico’s craftiest pitchers.
Since the Mexican League’s 16 teams only played games within their respective eight-team divisions, this will be the first time Saltillo and Quintana Roo have met in 2009. The Tigres have won nine Liga pennants in 14 championship series since 1955, while Saltillo’s one pennant in seven finals appearances came in 1980.