Sunday, August 23, 2009

SARAPEROS TOP TIGRES, 6-3; TAKE TWO-GAME FINALS LEAD

SALTILLO – Jesus Cota whacked his second homer in as many games and Rafael Diaz pitched 6.2 solid innings as the Saltillo Saraperos doubled up on the Quintana Roo Tigres, 6-3, Sunday night before 15,949 fans at Parque Francisco I. Madero. The victory gives Saltillo a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 Mexican League Championship Series as the Saraperos won their ninth straight playoff contest.

Noe Munoz stroked an RBI double in a two-run first inning for Saltillo, but the Tigres came back in the second to tie the game at 2-2 on Albino Contreras’ two-run homer to left. Saltillo went up 3-2 in the bottom of the second on Hernando Arredondo’s run-scoring single, but Quintana Roo knotted the contest back up at 3-3 in the third when Carlos Sievers scored on a Nelson Teilon error at shortstop. The Tigres had the bases loaded with one out, but Abel Martinez hit into a double play to end the threat.

Saltillo went ahead for good with two counters in the bottom of the third when Cota poked his two-run blast to make the score 5-3. The Saraperos added an insurance run in the eighth when Cota scored from third on a Scott Chiasson wild pitch.

Cota went 2-for-4 for Saltillo, as did Christian Presichi. Alex Sanchez led the Tigres with a double and two singles as Quintana Roo outhit the Saraperos by a 10-8 margin. Diaz settled down after letting in three runs in the first three innings, and finished with those three tallies allowed on nine hits and five strikeouts before being replaced by Rafael Martin with two out in the seventh. Arturo Barradas took the loss for the Tigres, letting in five runs on six hits in 2.2 innings. Five relievers actually did alright for Quintana Roo (Chiasson’s wild pitch notwithstanding), giving up just two hits after the fourth inning, but the damage had already been done.

The two teams will take Monday off to travel to Cancun for Game 3 of the series Tuesday night.

SALTILLO SARAPEROS 6-8-1, QUINTANA ROO TIGRES 3-10-2
W-Rafael Diaz (2-1). L-Arturo Barradas (2-2).
HR-Albino Contreras, QR (2); Jesus Cota, SAL (4).
T-3:12. A-15,949.

SARAPEROS DRAW FIRST BLOOD WITH 7-6 WIN OVER TIGRES

SALTILLO - The Saltillo Saraperos overcame a 6-2 deficit by scoring five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and held on for a 7-6 victory over the Quintana Roo Tigres in the opening game of the Mexican League Championship Series Saturday, August 22 before 15,844 fans in Saltillo.

The Tigres opened the scoring in the top of the first when leadoff batter Alex Sanchez tripled and came in to score on Carlos Gastelum’s single. The Saraperos replied with a run in the bottom of the first on Refugio Cervantes’ RBI single.

Quintana Roo posted two more tallies in the second when Albino Contreras tripled in Abel Martinez with two out and subsequently scored on a Sanchez bunt single to give the Tigres a 3-1 lead. Saltillo closed the gap to one run on Nelson Teilon’s RBI double in the bottom of the third, but the Tigres put three counters on the board in the top of the fourth to make it a 6-2 game. Contreras drove in Martinez with a single to left, but Saltillo starter Mario Mendoza, Jr. was able to register two outs and it looked like the worst was over. However, Carlos Sievers drilled a line drive single to right to bring in Flavio Romero from third and Contreras from second. At that point, Mendoza was replaced by Fernando Villalobos, who struck out Iker Franco to stop the bleeding.

The score stood at 6-2 until the fateful fifth inning. Up until then, Quintana Roo starter Pablo Ortega had been pitching comfortably, giving up two runs on four hits through the first four innings, but the veteran righty was touched up for three hits and two walks in the fifth. A two-run single by Teilon with one brought Saltillo close, but the key blow was struck by Jesus Cota, who clouted a three-run homer to right that gave the Saraperos a 7-6 advantage. Ortega struck out Christian Presichi swinging, but the damage was done, as was Ortega.

From that point, both teams’ bullpens took over to toss zeros the rest of the way as five Tigres relievers combined to allow just two Saltillo singles over three innings and the Saraperos got scoreless innings from three pitchers. Quintana Roo gave the Saltillo fans a scare in the top of the seventh when Franco tried to score from second on a Sergio Contreras single to right, but Presichi threw a perfect strike to catcher Jonathan Aceves to gun down Franco at the plate to end the inning. That was the last real threat the Tigres put up before Saltillo closer Miguel Saladin induced Franco into a 6-3 groundout to end the contest in the top of the ninth.

Villalobos got the win in relief for Saltillo as the 5’9” right-hander pitched 3.1 frames of scoreless ball in relief of Mendoza, while Saladin registered his fourth save of the postseason. Ortega absorbed the loss for Quintana Roo. The two teams will play again Sunday in Saltillo before the teams head to Cancun for Game 3 on Tuesday.

TIGRES, SARAPEROS TO MEET FOR LIGA TITLE

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.

GUAYMAS TAKES ON AGUA PRIETA FOR NORTE FLAG

The Guaymas Ostioneros are playing the Agua Prieta Vaqueros in the Class A Northern League championship series in Sonora.
Guaymas swept the San Luis Algodoneros in four straight games to win their Norte semifinal series, thereby punching a ticket to the league finals. For their part, Agua Prieta reached the title set by topping the Magdalena Membrilleras in five games.
The Vaqueros won last Tuesday night’s title set opener, 3-1, in Agua Prieta behind catcher Manuel Del Campo’s three-run homer in the fourth inning. Starter Leo Figueroa won his third playoff game for Agua Prieta, tossing six innings of one-run ball while scattering nine hits. Rafael Flores turned in his fourth complete game of the postseason for Guaymas in a losing effort.

MEXICO REACHES SEMIFINALS IN WORLD 16U TOURNEY

Mexico’s 16-Under National Team fell to the United States, 9-5, Saturday in the semifinals of the IBAF AA World Youth Tournament in Taiwan. The USA led 5-0 before Mexico scored two runs in the sixth on Fernando Perez’ sacrifice fly and a Manuel Paez single. The Americans made it 7-2 in the bottom of the sixth before Mexico scored their final three runs in the seventh on a passed ball, a single by pinch-hitter Alexander Delgado and a sacrifice fly by Javier Ruiz.
Mexico defeated Japan, 5-4, Friday to qualify for the semifinals. Mexico trailed Japan, 4-3, in the top of the eighth inning until a bases-loaded double by Ruiz plated Juan Leal and Carlos Islava with the tying and go-ahead runs, respectively.
Mexico lost their first game of Pool B play August 15 to South Korea, 5-4, despite a two-run triple in the fourth by Paez. The Verde Grande came back in a big way one day later with a 20-3 pounding of Hong Kong as Adolfo Lopez collected four hits whole Yousamot Cota drove in four runs with a triple and double. The hit parade continued Monday in Mexico’s 13-2 drubbing of the Czech Republic, with Ruiz recording two triples to support starter Carlos Rodriguez’ six-inning stint for the win. Mexico was thumped by the USA, 16-6, Wednesday, but clinched a quarterfinals berth Friday with an 8-6 win over the Dutch as Paez and Lopez each had three hits.
Mexico outlasted Venezuela, 11-10, to take third place in the tourney on Sunday. Paez led the way with a 3-for-5 day and 4 RBIs.

PELLOW, PEREZ SIGN WITH INDY TEAMS

A pair of big league veterans who played in the Mexican League this summer have signed contracts to finish 2009 with independent teams in Canada and the USA.
36-year-old Kit Pellow, who hit .290 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs for Saltillo and Monterrey, is heading to Calgary of the Golden Baseball League. Pellow played for Kansas City and Colorado in the majors. And in 2008 became the seventh player in Mexican League history to win the Triple Crown for Saltillo, hitting .385 with 34 homers and 107 RBIs.
The 34-year-old Perez is heading to the New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am League after hitting .323 for Veracruz with eight homers and 37 RBIs in 77 games. Perez played for the 2000 National League champion New York Mets and the 2005 World Series champion Chicago White Sox. Perez was the Class AAA All-Star Game MVP in 2007 playing for Detroit’s International League affiliate Toledo.

HISTORIA MEXICANA 4: Texas, Porfirio Diaz and a final revolution

After declaring independence from Spain in 1821 without resistance from the Spanish (who had their own troubles at home), Mexico underwent a period of instability that lasted much of the 19th Century as 30 presidents ruled over its first 50 years as a nation. The dominant figure in early Mexican politics was Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who parlayed shifting alliances between the church, army and landowners to become president no less than 11 times.
Mexico’s original northern border spanned from California to Texas. However, in 1836, Texas broke away from Mexico and declared independence. Santa Anna responded with troops and though he scored a big victory at the Alamo, Mexican troops were defeated at San Jacinto and Texas was independent. When Texas decided to join the United States, the move sparked an American invasion into Mexico in 1848, and the disorganized Mexican army was not able to hold off the invaders. The resulting Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo resulted in the loss of nearly half of Mexico to the Americans, all of which are now states in the USA.
Losing to the Americans was essentially the end of Santa Anna politically. In the 1850’s, an Indian lawyer named Benito Juarez led the way to a new constitution in which church and state were separated, church and corporate owned lands were sold, and all citizens were made equal before the law. The church and army resisted this, but a four-year War of the Reform gave liberals behind the constitution victory…for a time.
One of the things Juarez, who by now was president, did was suspend payments of foreign debts because Mexico itself was in debt. That brought on another invasion, this time by joint forces from Spain, France and England in 1861. Although Mexico won the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1861 (now celebrated as CInco de Mayo), the invaders prevailed and installed Maximilian of Hapsburg as emperor of Mexico. Maximilian, a liberal at heart, knew nothing of Mexico’s internal problems, and his refusal to repeal Juarez’ reforms lost him what few conservative allies he’d had. Eventually, a threat from the USA to intervene on the behalf of Juarez’ resistance helped push the invaders back to Europe, and Maximilian ended up getting shot by a firing squad in 1867.
Juarez resumed power after Maximilian’s death, but died in office in 1872. After another period of instability, a former general under Juarez, Porfirio Diaz, took over the presidency, a position he held with an iron fist for 34 years. A dictator in every sense of the word, Diaz was no humanitarian. Although his modernization policy led to great gains in transportation, communication and industry, much of this was accomplished through brutal repression and by handing over much of the country to foreign investors. Even today, Diaz is almost equally hated and admired.
Things finally came to a head in 1910, when Diaz responded to an election-year challenge from Francisco Madero by ordering him imprisoned and declaring himself the winner at the polls. Madero escaped to Texas, declared himself president, and called on Mexicans to revolt against the aging Diaz. With Pancho Villa and Pascual Orozco leading the resistance in the north and Emiliano Zapata doing the same in the south, Diaz eventually fled into exile and Madero returned to rule. Madero liberalized some aspects of Mexico, but did little to help the poor. This led to another uprising by Zapata as well as a plot between American interests and general Victoriano Huerta that led to Madero’s assassination and Huerta declaring himself president.