Saturday, August 15, 2009

TIGRES WIN MARATHON SERIES, PLAYING PUEBLA IN LMB SOUTH FINALS

It took eleven days to play seven games, but the Quintana Roo Tigres were able to outlast the Campeche Piratas in their Mexican League Southern Zone semifinal series, 4 games to 3. Three matches were cancelled due to rain.

Campeche took a 3-2 series lead into the week after a 7-6 win over Quintana Roo last Saturday behind Javier Robles’ two-run homer, but the Tigres roared back with a pair of home victories in Cancun. Quintana Roo evened the set with an 8-1 win last Monday as Derrick White walloped a two-run homer. The Tigres then won the seventh game Tuesday night with a 9-5 triumph over Campeche behind Albino Contreras’ walkoff grand slam homer in the bottom of the tenth inning.

Quintana Roo is now battling Puebla for the LMB South title. The Pericos dispatched Yucatan in five games, including a 12-0 rout in the clinching game last week as Andres Meza pitched a four-hitter and Willis Otanez went 3-for-4 with two homers and 3 RBIs. Meza led the LMB with 15 wins in the regular season.

The Tigres won Thursday night’s opener, 3-1, behind two homers by White, and followed up with a 12-1 pasting of the Pericos Friday as Ricardo Vasquez’ grand slam keyed a seven-run first inning for Quintana Roo.

LAGUNA SHOCKS DIABLOS, FACE SALTILLO FOR LMB NORTH CROWN

The Laguna Vaqueros are certainly making the most of their first playoff appearance since 2004. The Torreon team pounded Mexico City, 15-2, last Monday night in Foro Sol to win the seventh and deciding game of their Northern Zone semifinal series, eliminating the defending Liga champions in the process.

Laguna rapped out 21 hits as a team on Monday, including a 4-for-6 night with a homer from Daniel Fornes, to back up pitcher Juan Delgadillo (who tossed two-run ball over his six-inning stint on the mound). Fornes capped an excellent series in which he also whacked a homer in a Game 3 victory and drove in the winning run in the tenth inning of Game 4, both at home in Torreon. The Diablos had stayed alive with a 12-4 drubbing of the Vaqueros last Saturday, featuring a three-hit night from Ivan Terrazas.

Now the Vaqueros are squaring off with Saltillo for the LMB North championship. The Saraperos topped Reynosa in six contests, including an 8-1 Game 6 win in Saltillo last Saturday in which starter Jose Mercedes stretched his string of consecutive postseason shutout innings to 14 with seven frames of three-hit scoreless ball.

The Saraperos opened the Norte finals with a 9-0 shutout over Laguna last Wednesday in Saltillo. Hector Rodriguez scattered four hits and struck out seven Vaqueros in five innings. In Game 2 on Friday night, Refugio Cervantes slammed his fourth homer of the playoffs to break a 4-4 tie as Saltillo held on for a 5-4 win in front of over 11,000 fans in Torreon. Cervantes also stroked an RBI double in the third.

SONORAN NORTHERN LEAGUE SEMIS UNDERWAY

The semifinals of Sonora’s Northern League have begun as both Magdalena and Guaymas took opening night road victories on Tuesday.

Magdalena topped the Agua Prieta Vaqueros, 10-6, in Agua Prieta. Rodolfo Gonzalez took the win for the Membrilleras by tossing seven innings of one-run ball. On the same night, Guaymas scored four runs in the third inning and went on to beat San Luis, 9-2, in San Luis Rio Colorado. Texan Rafael Flores earned the pitching win for the Ostioneros. Both semis are best-of-7 series.

In the opening round of Northern League playoff action, San Luis knocked out Ensenada, 4 games to 1, Agua Prieta eliminated Mexicali in six games, and Magdalena outlasted Guaymas in a full seven games. While all three series winners automatically advanced to the final four, Guaymas also moved into the second round as the fourth “lucky loser” team by virtue of their three first-round wins as compared to Mexicali’s two victories and Ensenada’s lone triumph.

REYNOSA IF McDOUGALL SIGNS WITH PENSACOLA

Reynosa Broncos third baseman Marshall McDougall has signed with the Pensacola Pelicans of the American Association for the remainder of the season. A former College World Series MVP and All-American at Florida State University, McDougall hit .286 for Reynosa this year with 20 homers, 20 doubles and 86 RBIs. The Jacksonville native signed with Pensacola three days after the Broncos were knocked out of the Mexican League playoffs in the first round by Saltillo in six games.

Following his collegiate career, McDougall was picked by Oakland in the ninth round of the 2000 June draft. He spent a number of years in the Rangers organization, hitting .341 with 11 homers for Oklahoma City bracketed around a brief June stint with Texas in 2005. McDougall was signed by Reynosa prior to the 2009 season.

A-GON GOES 6-FOR-6 IN PADRES POUNDING OF MILWAUKEE

San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez set a team record for hits in a nine-inning game last Tuesday night by going 6-for-6 in the Padres’ 13-6 bludgeoning of the Milwaukee Brewers in front of over 37,000 fans at Miller Park. The outburst added 11 points to A-Gon’s batting average, which has gone from .246 to .262 over the past two weeks for the two-time All-Star. Gonzalez spent 12 years growing up in Obregon.

Three other Padres have collected six hits in a game over San Diego’s 40-year team history, all in extra-inning contests: Gene Richards in 1977, Joe Lefebvre in 1982 and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn in 1993. Gonzalez is the third major league player this year with a six-hit game, joining Texas’ Ian Kinsler and Freddy Sanchez of Pittsburgh.

INFIELDER CASTRO PERFORMING WELL AS DODGERS SUB

Los Mochis native Juan Castro has been a key infield reserve this year for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the National League’s best record at 69-45. Castro has hit .319 with a homer in 36 games for the Dodgers while playing three positions after starting the season at Class AAA Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League.

The 36-year-old Castro was signed by the Dodgers out of Mexico in 1991, and has played all or part of the past 15 big league seasons with Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Baltimore. He’s a career .231 hitter with 36 homers in 1,022 MLB games.

HISTORIA MEXICANA 3: The Colonial Era, Revolution and Independence

After Hernando Cortes and his troops defeated the Aztecs in the 16th Century, a period of Spanish colonial rule of Mexico that lasted over three centuries began. Conquistadores and explorers spread north and south in search of native populations to defeat and precious metals to mine. By the early 17th Century, Mexico was ruled by a number of so-called encomenderos, who served the Spanish Crown as quasi-feudal lords charged with protecting and converting indigenous people. By bringing smallpox to Mexico from Spain and decimating tribal numbers, the level of “protection” was at least questionable. As for conversion, that was eventually handled by Franciscan and Dominican friars who literally whipped the natives into spiritual shape and order.

The 17th Century was actually a relatively peaceful period in colonial Mexico. A new class of Creole people born in what was called New Spain established great estates with large agricultural areas centered around a sizeable compound called a hacienda, which included a large house for the landowners, servant’s quarters, workshops, gardens, and a church with adjacent graveyard. The Indian population was put to work cultivating crops in the fields, and the contact between Spaniards and natives created a new category of mixed-race people in Mexico, the mestizos. The population of modern-day Mexico is predominantly made up of their ancestors. In the absence of a regular army during the 17th Century, discipline was the domain of the Catholic Church. Catholicism remains the dominant religion in Mexico today.

However, things became less peaceful in the 18th Century. Much of the relative autonomy enjoyed by landowners in Mexico (who had established relative fiefdoms) was scaled back while local taxes were raised as Spain became embroiled in several wars in Europe. The result was a great unrest that resulted in the expulsion of Jesuit priests from Mexico in 1767 as the alliance between the Crown and Church crumbled.

By the end of the 18th Century, Mexico stretched from Yucatan in the south to a string of present-day American states from California to Florida in the north. The American and French revolutions gave hope to native Mexican seeking freedom from Spanish rule. In 1810, a priest named Miguel Hidalgo gave his famous cry for independence, known as “El Grito” (or “The Shout”). The first try for independence failed and Hidalgo was executed, but the seeds had been planted. A second revolution headed by Father Jose Maria Morelos four years later also fell short, but guerrilla warfare continued. Back in Spain, the army seized power in 1821, and shortly thereafter, the Creole landowners in Mexico declared independence. The weakened Spaniards did not have the will to respond militarily so Mexico became a free nation.

Although Mexico was now independent, it was not unified. After a short imperial period in which Agustin I ruled as “emperor,” Mexico became a republic in 1823. Unfortunately, the economy was ravaged after Spanish capital left the country, and Mexico’s elites were divided between two factions: Conservatives who preferred a Catholic-dominated hierarchy backed by an army and a system of monarchy, and liberals who favored a more egalitarian free-trade system of government.

The eventual winner in all this was Antonio de Santa Anna, who began Mexico’s first political dynasty but who also saw the country lose a large chunk of land in the process.

NEXT WEEK: Texas, Porfirio Diaz and a final revolution