Friday, November 6, 2009

McDONALD, WATSON COMBINE FOR POSTGAME WALK-OFF

The Hermosillo Naranjeros were abandoned by outfielders Darnell McDonald and Brandon Watson following last weekend’s series with Mexicali. After the Naranjeros beat the Aguilas, 4-3, last Sunday (thanks in part to a homer by McDonald), the two left Hermosillo to go home to the USA.
While Watson had been struggling at the plate, going just 4-for-26 in his last six games for the Naranjeros, McDonald was second in the Mex Pac with a .378 average, though he had cooled off considerably after a hot start. Hermosillo manager Homar Rojas said both players had worked hard for him, but added that Watson complained of being “tired” and McDonald had earlier mentioned his pregnant wife.
To replace the two extraneros on the roster, Hermosillo has brought in pitcher Travis Blackley and outfielder Chris Roberson, both of whom were teammates of Watson in Reno of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League last summer. Blackley, who pitched for Australia in the World Baseball Classic, is a former major leaguer who won four games with three saves for Reno in 111 innnings this year. He pitched for Mexicali last winter, going 2-3 in 12 starts for the Aguilas. Roberson, a popular Mex Pac veteran, hit .261 for Reno in 2009.

SAMARDZIJA SHUT DOWN AFTER FIVE STARTS FOR MEXICALI

In a move that was not unexpected, pitcher Jeff Samardzija is done for the year after the former Notre Dame football star turned in five starts for the Mexicali Aguilas this season. The Chicago Cubs prospect was sent home to rest up for the 2010 season, in which he is expected to contend for a slot in the Cubs’ starting rotation. He signed a contract with Chicago prior to the 2007 season that could net him US$16.5 million for up to seven years.
In five starts for Mexicali, Samardzija was 2-0 over 24 innings, and his 2.25 ERA was second to Mazatlan’s Oscar Bustillos among LMP pitchers. In his last start for the Aguilas, the 6’5” righthander went six innings against Hermosillo, allowing one run on four hits. He was 1-3 with the Cubs in 2009 after going 6-6 for Iowa in the Pacific Coast League.

LEYVA FIRED, ESTRADA BACK AS TOMATEROS SKIPPER

Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Nick Leyva has been sacked as skipper of the Culiacan Tomateros after the team won just six of their first 19 games this season. Leyva, who spent the 2009 season as a coach in Toronto under Cito Gaston, was booed by Culiacan fans during Tuesday’s 6-3 home loss to Hermosillo. Tomateros team president Juan Manuel Ley also incurred the wrath of attendees of the game at Estadio General Angel Flores.
According to the Puro Beisbol website, Leyva will be replaced by Francisco “Paquin” Estrada (pictured), a member of Mexico’s Salon de la Fama who spent 26 years as a catcher in his pro baseball career before becoming one of the country’s top managers. Estrada has led three teams to Mexican League pennants as well as earning three more Mex Pac flags (including two for Culiacan). He was expected to take the helm for the Tomateros last Thursday night.
The 60-year-old Estrada, who holds Minor League Baseball’s career record with 2,847 games caught, was enshrined in Monterrey in 2000.

MAZATLAN VENADOS (16-7-0)

Mazatlan swept Culiacan in three straight before taking two of three from Mexicali to finish the week with a 5-1 mark. The Venados have won 10 of their last 12 games.
John Lindsey leads the regulars with a .329 batting average while Ruben Rivera has six homers and 17 RBIs, but it’s pitching that has kept Mazatlan in first. Oscar Bustillos leads the LMP with a 1.52 ERA, Gabe DeHoyos is tops with 8 saves and the Venados’ 3.11 team ERA is the Mex Pac’s best.

HERMOSILLO NARANJEROS (13-9-1)

Hermosillo lost two of three home contests with Mexicali before winning a pair of road games in Culiacan to stay a half-game ahead of Navojoa for second place in the Mex Pac.
Despite the loss of Darnell McDonald and Brandon Watson, the Naranjeros still have Trent Oeltgen’s .360 average and Luis Alfonso Garcia’s seven homers and 21 RBIs. Reliever Fernando Villalobos is 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA, but the top starter has been Juan Delgadillo, who’s 3-1 and 3.25.

NAVOJOA MAYOS (13-10-0)

Navojoa moved into third by winning three straight games in Los Mochis after dropping two of three in Obregon. Matt Young’s two-run double was the key hit in Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Caneros.
Francisco Arias leads a balanced Mayos attack with a .313 average, while Javier Robles has five homers and Adan Munoz has 19 RBIs. Brian Adams has been the best starter with a 3-1 record and 3.00 ERA, but pitching has not been a Navojoa strong point.

MEXICALI AGUILAS (12-11-0)

Mexicali stayed above the .500 mark by splitting six games last week, beating Hermosillo twice and winning once in Mazatlan to remain in the LMP’s first division.
Roman Pena (.360), Matt Camp (.347) and Brad Snyder (.341) are all hitting over .340 while Snyder and Emmanuel Valdez have combined for 10 homers and 36 RBIs. The Aguilas pitching staff will miss Jeff Samardzija, but still have reliable Enrique Quintanilla’s 1-1 mark and 3.86 ERA.

OBREGON YAQUIS (12-11-0)

Obregon ended the week by winning two of three home games with Guasave to pull into a tie for fourth place with Mexicali. The Yaquis opened the week going 2-for-3 against Navojoa.
Neil Sellers, one of a number of Phillies prospects with the Yaquis, leads the club with a .365 average and 18 RBIs, while Said Gutierrez and Carlos Valencia each have four homers. Starter Luis Mendoza is 4-1 to lead the Mex Pac in wins, although his ERA of 3.68 is not particularly eye-popping.

LOS MOCHIS CANEROS (10-12-1)

Los Mochis struggled to a 1-5 record last week, losing two of three to cellar-dwelling Guasave before being embarrassed at home by three losses to Navojoa to fall to sixth place.
The Caneros’ early saving grace has been Sandy Madera, who leads the league with a .402 average, nine homers and 22 runs. Sebastian Valle is batting .322 with seven homers and 18 RBIs, but Logan Duran (2-1, 3.62) is the only Mochis pitcher with more than one win.

CULIACAN TOMATEROS (7-14-1)

Culiacan fired manager Nick Leyva, but returning skipper Paquin Estrada couldn’t halt a 1-5 week. In fact, the Tomateros’ only win came Wednesday, without either Leyva or Estrada in the dugout.
Mike McCoy and Mike Cervenak are both hitting .344. Cervenak has five homers, just behind Refugio Cervantes seven, and 20 RBIs. Among pitchers, Chris Waters is 2-0 with a 3.42 ERA and Travis Minix’ 3.41 ERA looks better than his 1-2 record, though Minix got shelled by Hermosillo in his last start.

GUASAVE ALGODONEROS (6-15-1)

Guasave is still in last place, but showed some signs of life last week, winning a series against Los Mochis and taking a road victory against a hot Obregon team. The Algodoneros problem is batting, with Guasave’s team .240 average last in the LMP. Mario Valenzuela is hitting .326, but with only 4 RBIs in 14 games. Mario Valdez has 4 homers and 12 RBIs, but only a .235 average. Jim McGrane is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA, but he’s had precious little support.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Results (10-30-09 through 11-05-09)

FRIDAY, October 30
Mexicali 8, Hermosillo 1
MX-Jeff Samardzija 6IP/0R/4H/7K, Emmanuel Valdez 2RHR, H-Julian Figueroa 4IP/0R
Mazatlan 8, Culiacan 7 (10)
MZ-Freddy Sandoval HR/3RBI, Ruben Rivera 2RHR T10, C-Dee Brown HR/2RBI, Jesus Cota HR
Guasave 4, Los Mochis 3 (10)
G-Japhet Amador GW 2R1B B10, Jim McGrane 8.1IP/2R/6K, LM-Ramon Orantes 2RHR, Coby Smith 2-5/RBI
Navojoa 8, Obregon 4
N-Adan Munoz 2-4/R/2RBI, Javier Robles 3RHR, O-Michael Taylor 2-4, Luis Alfonso Garcia PH 2R1B

SATURDAY, October 31
Mexicali 8, Hermosillo 4
MX-Adam Rosales 2-4/3B/3RBI, Matt Camp 2-4/2B/2R, H-Luis Alfonso Garcia 2 2RHRs
Mazatlan 3, Culiacan 2
MZ-Christian Quintero 3-4/2B/RBI, Ruben Rivera HR. C-Mike Cervenak 2B/RBI
Los Mochis 4, Guasave 3 (10)
LM-Ramon Orantes GWHR B10, Sandy Madera HR, Edgar Quintero HR, G-Jose Rodriguez HR, Eduardo Arredondo HR
Obregon 10, Navojoa 5
O-Said Gutierrez 2-4/3RHR/5RBI, John Mayberry Jr. 3-5/R/3RBI, N-Reid Gorecki 3-4/3B/4R, Adan Munoz 2-5/2B/2RBI

SUNDAY, November 1
Hermosillo 4, Mexicali 3
H-Darnell McDonald & Humberto Cota B2B HRs, Miguel Ramirez 6IP/2R, MX-Emmanuel Valdez 2-4/HR
Mazatlan 7, Culiacan 3
MZ-Rogelio Noris 3H/HR, Roberto Saucedo HR, C-Victor Bojorquez 2-2/RBI
Guasave 6, Los Mochis 5 (10)
G-Gabriel Gutierrez 2-4/2B/2RBI, Mario Valdez HR/2R/RBI, LM-Sandy Madera 3-5/2HRs, Ramon Orantes 2-4/2B/2RBI
Obregon 7, Navojoa 6
O-Neil Sellers 2-4/2B/2RBI, Carlos Valencia 2RHR, N-Reid Gorecki 2-4/3RHR

TUESDAY, November 3
Navojoa 1, Los Mochis 0
N-Brian Adams 7IP/0R/3H, Matt Young 1B/R, LM-Carlos Orrantia 2-4, Jesus Sanchez 7IP/3H/6BB/1R
Obregon 4, Guasave 1
O-Flavio Romero 3-4/R/RBI, Bryan Corey 7IP/1R/8H, G-Mario Valdez 3-4/HR
Hermosillo 6, Culiacan 3
H-Trent Oeltgen 3-4/3B/2R/RBI, Humberto Cota 2B/3RBI, C-Mike Cervenak HR, Mike McCoy HR
Mexicali 6, Mazatlan 2
MX-Matt Camp 2-5/2RBI, Oscar Rivera 5.1IP/1R/3H, MZ-Rogelios Noris 2-4, Christian Quintero 2B/R

WEDNESDAY, November 4
Navojoa 14, Los Mochis 8
N-Matt Young 2-4/3R/3RBI, Jesus Vega 2-4/HR/3RBI, LM-Sandy Madera 2-4/HR/3RBI, Saul Soto HR
Obregon 4, Guasave 3
O-Luis Mendoza 5.2IP/1R/4H, John Mayberry Jr. 2-4/HR/3RBI, G-Mario Valenzuela 3-4/2R, Jose Rodriguez HR
Culiacan 3, Hermosillo 2 (11)
C-Luis Cruz 2-5/GW1B, Max Leon 2-5/HR, H-Geronimo Gil 3-5/2 2Bs/RBI, Trent Oeltgen 2-5/2B/R
Mazatlan 6, Mexicali 3
MZ-Christian Quintero 3-4/3R, Ruben Rivera HR/3RBI, MX-Bryan Snyder 2-4/HR, Gonzalo Meza 3-4/R

THURSDAY, November 5
Navojoa 4, Los Mochis 3
N-Matt Young 2R2B, Reid Gorecki 2-4/R/RBI, LM-Saul Soto 2-5/2B/R/RBI, Paul Llano HR
Guasave 9, Obregon 3
G-Jose Rodriguez 2-4/2B/HR/3RBI, Mario Valdez 3RHR, O-John Mayberry Jr. 2-4/HR, Neil Sellers HR
Hermosillo 5, Culiacan 2
H-Sergio Perez 2-4/2RBI, Humberto Cota 2RHR, C-Dee Brown 3-5/2B/RBI, Luis Cruz 2-3/2B/RBI
Mazatlan 2, Mexicali 1
MZ-Christian Quintero RBI3B, Alfonso Sanchez 7IP/1R/5H, MX-Enrique Quintanilla 6IP/1R/4H, Brad Snyder 2-4

UPCOMING MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE GAMES
NOV. 10-12 Mazatlan @ Obregon, Navojoa @ Culiacan, Guasave @ Hermosillo, Mexicali @ Los Mochis
NOV. 13-15 Mavojoa @ Mazatlan, Obregon @ Hermosillo, Guasave @ Mexicali, Los Mochis @ Culiacan

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #6): Obregon, Sonora

We’ll continue our journey through Mex Pac cities by heading north on Highway 15 from Navojoa to Ciudad Obregon, Sonora’s second largest city with a population of 450,000. While the city itself is less than 100 years old, the area it sits in had long been settled by the Yaqui Indian nation after whom the local baseball team was named. Originally known as Cajeme when it was given municipal status in 1927, the city was renamed in 1937 after Revolution hero General Alvaro Obregon, a Navojoa native who later became president of Mexico and initiated modern agricultural techniques to the Yaqui Valley that made the region one of the most prosperous in the country. In fact, the area is called Mexico’s grain provider thanks to wheat growing standards partly established by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Norman Bourlaug from America.

Present-day Obregon is the agribusiness center of a region whose countryside is liberally dotted with grain elevators, storage silos and cotton mills. While it is a working city and not tourism-oriented, there are some points of interest for visitors to take in. Laguna Nainari just west of town is a popular lagoon with restaurants, picnic areas and boats for water-skiing, while the nearby San Jose Beach features a spa. South of Laguna Nainari is the Parque Ostimuri, a tree-lined park geared towards young people (and the young at heart) with an amusement park, several refreshment stands and a zoo with animals ranging from deer and boars to turtles and gila monsters. The Museo del Yaquis celebrates the history of the valley and is doing its part to keep the culture of the Yaqui people alive. Moreover, the Mexican government has declared the Yaquis the only recognized tribe in the country, allowing them to continue their traditions (including their own government). There are four institutes of higher education in Obregon, and the local airport receives flight from 13 Mexican and four U.S. cities (Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson and Houston).

The Obregon Yaquis of the Mexican Pacific League play their home games in Estadio Tomas Oroz Gaytan, a 10,000-seat ballpark named after a state public works treasurer who helped provide funding for its construction. In fact, the ballparks in both Obregon and Hermosillo opened on October 8, 1970 and are virtually identical to each other. Past Obregon players include Willie May Aikens, Aurelio Rodriguez, Jerry Turner, Enrique Romo and Vinny Castilla (whose number has been retired). The Yaquis have won four MexPac pennants since their first season in 1958-59, playing in three Caribbean Series.


NEXT WEEK (Stop #7): Hermosillo, Sonora