Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BBM 2010 Mexican League All-Star Team

1B: Sandy Madera, Yucatan (Finished second in Liga with .386 average and hit 18 homers)
2B: Jose Rodriguez, Saltillo (Hit .333 with 12 homers and led LMB second sackers with 64 RBIs)
3B: Oscar Robles, Mexico City (Turned in .355 average, led Liga with 95 runs and stole 18 bases)
SS: Rolando Acosta, Minatitlan (Led LMB shortstops in hitting {.327}, RBIs {51} and scored 55 runs)
LF: Victor Diaz, Veracruz (Topped circuit with 29 homers and 96 RBIs, stole 12 bases and hit .298)
CF: Alexis Gomez, Laguna (Speedster easily led LMB with 37 steals and hit .352 with 16 homers)
RF: Ruben Rivera, Campeche (Ex-MLBer had great season, batting .360 with 21 HRs and 73 RBIs)
C: Erick Rodriguez, Oaxaca (Hit .327 with 10 homers and 61 RBIs in a tough league for catchers)
DH: Willis Otanez, Puebla (Led Liga with .393 average after starting season with 22-game hit streak)
LHSP: Bobby Cramer, Quintana Roo (Best in LMB with 13 wins, 123 Ks, 3 shutouts and 1.12 WHIP)
RHSP: Mac Suzuki, Chihuahua (Led LMB with 2.89 ERA, went 9-4 with 3 CGs for resurgent Dorados)
RP: Luis Rivera, Puebla (Was top reliever in Liga with 30 saves and had 3.86 ERA in hitter’s park)

Monday, August 30, 2010

BBM Awards MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Willis Otanez, Puebla Pericos

Puebla got off to a very hot start in 2010 and went on to post the best record in the Mexican League at 66-39 before beating Yucatan and Oaxaca in the playoffs to reach the Bicentennial Series. Otanez, a former MLB infielder, was the linchpin of a Puebla squad that hit .320 as a team.

The 37-year-old Dominican led the Liga with a .393 batting average and added 12 homers, scored 71 runs and had 76 RBIs in 91 games despite missing the last two weeks of the regular season with a foot injury.

Otanez began the season with a 22-game hitting streak. When his 15-game skein at the end of 2009 is factored in, his 37-game streak broke the old LMB record of 36 set by Saltillo’s Luis de los Santos in 2000.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

BBM Awards PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Bobby Cramer, Quintana Roo Tigres

2010 was not a standout season for Mexican League pitchers, but longtime minor leaguer Bobby Cramer was the exception.

Cramer, a 2001 Seattle draft pick who spent several seasons in the Oakland organization before heading south of the border to pitch in Cancun for the Quintana Roo Tigres, led the LMB in several pitching categories, including wins (13), complete games (5), shutouts (3), strikeouts (123) and WHIP (1.12). The California product also showed remarkable control for a lefty, issuing just 27 walks in his 128 innings pitched for the Tigres, yet gave up only six homers all season (also a remarkable figure for a control pitcher…ask Jamie Moyer). In all, Cramer was easily the most dominant pitcher in the Liga this summer.

After the season, Cramer headed back north to pitch for Oakland’s AAA affiliate in Sacramento.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

BBM Awards NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Sandy Madera, Yucatan Leones

This award could just as easily have gone to Bobby Cramer of the Quintana Roo Tigres, who had a terrific season, but Sandy Madera had a daily impact on his team’s fortunes whether he was playing for Saltillo or Yucatan (to whom he was traded by the Saraperos in a midseason swap for outfielder Willie Romero after Romero was suspended two games for shoving an umpire).

Coming off a spectacular Mexican Pacific League season in which he led the Mex Pac with a .413 average for Los Mochis, Madera clobbered Mexican League pitching with a .383 average, second to Puebla's Willis Otanez) along with 18 homers and 86 runs scored. A first baseman who turned 30 in August, Madera even swiped 10 bases in the regular season.

Madera bounced around the minors for 12 years before debuting in Mexico last winter. If his first year south of the border is any indication, he may have found a permanent baseball home.

Friday, August 27, 2010

BBM Awards MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Eddy Diaz, Oaxaca Guerreros

It was hard to pass over Saltillo manager Orlando Sanchez, who led his team to a second straight Liga pennant, but Eddie Diaz gets the nod over Chihuahua’s Chico Rodriguez because they had tougher jobs of turning around moribund teams in 2010.

Diaz piloted the Guerreros through an at-times difficult year that included the very real possibility of the team having to move out of Oaxaca in midseason because of a ballpark shutdown, but the former Brewers shortstop guided the club to an 18-game improvement from a 42-63 record in 2009 to a 60-45 mark this year and an LMB South finals berth against Puebla.

Rodriguez performed a similar job with a Dorados franchise that spent the offseason wondering if they'd be moving to Chiapas (among other sites), but the turnaround ended with a five-game loss to Monterrey in the Zona Madero semifinals.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

BASEBALL MEXICO Summer 2010 Awards coming

Beginning Friday, August 27, we will be announcing our Baseball Mexico Awards for the 2010 Mexican League season.

The BBaMmys (sorry) are selected by a committee of one: Me. Being hundreds of miles from the USA-Mexico border poses some challenges, the largest of which is an inability to watch players from all 16 Liga teams play. However, I can read statistics with the best of them, and covering the LMB in-depth during the season has allowed me a peek into which players are making the most impact with their numbers.

Sure, these awards are entirely subjective, but it's almost always like that. Look at it this way: There won't be a bloc of East Coast writers swaying the BBM Award voting because I can't be bought. Rented, maybe...

Here's the schedule of dates for BBM Award announcements:

FRI, August 27 Manager of the Year

SAT, August 28 Newcomer of the Year

SUN, August 29 Pitcher of the Year

MON, August 30 Most Valuable Player

TUE, August 31 All-Star Team

CAMP TO RETURN TO MEXICALI THIS WINTER

The Mexicali Aguilas will be bringing back one of the bright spots from their 2009-10 Mexican Pacific League season for the upcoming winter campaign.

Second baseman Matt Camp, who plays for the Chicago Cubs AAA affiliate in Iowa during the summer, hit .329 for the Aguilas last season, finishing fourth the Mex Pac batting race. Camp also came in fourth in the LMP with three triples and 83 hits and finished fifth in doubles with 14 and stolen bases with 12 before the Cubs called him back to the States before the LMP playoffs in January.

Mexicali has added two more players to their roster: Shortstop Jacob Blackwood and third baseman German Duran. Blackwood was a 2006 Marlins draft pick and played four seasons in the Florida system before going to Kansas City of the independent Northern League, where he hit .348 with 29 homers in 87 games this year. Duran, a 2006 Rangers draft pick out of TCU, hit .231 in 60 games for the Texas Rangers in 2008 while playing five positions.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

DURAZO COMES BACK TO HERMOSILLO FOR 2010-11 SEASON

Former major league first baseman Erubiel Durazo will be back in Hermosillo to play for the defending champion Naranjeros this winter. Durazo spent last season with Obregon, where he hit .356 and pounded nine homers in just 32 games for the Yaquis, returns to an Orangemen he helped lead to Mex Pac titles in 2001 and 2007.

The 35-year-old Durazo, a native of Hermosillo, broke into the majors with Arizona in 1999 and spent four years with the Diamondbacks (playing in the 2001 World Series) before playing for Oakland from 2003 through 2005. He hit .281 with 94 homers over seven seasons in the majors, batting .321 with 22 homers and 88 RBIs for the Athletics in 2004.

Durazo was the LMP Rookie of the Year in 1997-98 and MVP in 2006-07 with Hermosillo, where he played 12 winters before being dealt to Mexicali and loaned to Obregon last season. He was traded to the Naranjeros by the Aguilas for infielder German Duran.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

VERACRUZ WINTER LEAGUE OPENS PLAY AUGUST 26

When does a “winter” baseball league begin playing games during the summer? If it’s the Veracruz Winter League (or Liga Inveral Veracruzana, or LIV), opening day falls on Thursday, August 26, when the defending champion Las Tuxtlas Brujos host the Cordoba Cafeteros.

The Las Tuxtlas-Cordoba matchup is the only game scheduled on August 26, while the other eight teams in LIV kick off their respective 2009-10 seasons one day later: The Coatzacoalcos Dragones are set to host the Veracruz Rojos, the Xalapa Chileros will entertain the Santa Rosa Gallos, the Soledad Toros will be in Cosamaloapan to battle the Broncos, and the Minatitlan Gavilanes will be at home against Cayenne Island on Friday. Coatzacoalcos and Cayenne Island are expansion teams this season.

LIV teams will play 75-game regular season schedules until December 22, followed by playoffs. Los Tuxtlas beat Xalapa in the championship series last January.

Monday, August 23, 2010

CHRIS ROBERSON TO RETURN TO NARANJEROS

Outfielder Chris Roberson has agreed to return to the Hermosillo Naranjeros for another season of winterball in the Mexican Pacific League.

The California native, who turns 31 on August 23, was a ninth-round draft pick by Philadelphia out of Feather River College in 2001, signing with the team for a $55,000 bonus. Roberson spent seven years in the Phillies organization, batting .232 in 85 games for the parent club in 2006 and 2007. After stints with AAA affiliates for Baltimore in 2008 and Arizona in 2009, Roberson spent this summer playing center field with Monterrey, where he hit .306 with 12 homers and tying for second in the Liga with 21 stolen bases. He batted .333 in eleven playoff games for the Sultanes.

This will mark the sixth season Roberson has spent roaming the outfield for Hermosillo, including two pennant-winning teams. He batted .232 for the Mex Pac champs last winter.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

HERMOSILLO AWARDED 2013 CARIBBEAN SERIES

At an August meeting of the Mexican Pacific League governors, the Hermosillo Naranjeros were named as hosts for the 2013 Caribbean Series. The 2013 CS will mark the sixth time Hermosillo has hosted the event (and the first time since 1997).

The decision apparently did not sit well with Culiacan Tomateros president Juan Manuel Ley, who was quoted in Culiacan’s El Debate newspaper as wondering why the Los Mochis Caneros (who, like the Tomateros, are based in the state of Sinaloa) voted to award the series to Hermosillo and not Culiacan. Hermosillo is in the state of Sonora, whose residents have a great rivalry with Sinaloans. Culiacan hosted the Caribbean Series once in 2005.

The CS rotates evenly between Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Next February’s event will be hosted in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico at Isidoro Garcia Baseball Stadium, a $48.5 million facility seating 10,500 that opened last February.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

PITTSBURGH ACQUIRES RIGHTS TO PRIZED 16-YEAR-OLD PITCHER

The bidding war for a highly-sought teenaged pitcher from Mazatlan appears to be over. The Pittsburgh Pirates announced August 19 that they have reached an agreement to acquire the rights to 6’4” right-hander Luis Heredia from the Veracruz Rojos Aguilas of the Mexican League for a reported $2.6 million (three-quarters of which will go to the Aguilas).

Ten major league organizations were said to be interested in Heredia, who had to wait until his 16th birthday on August 19 before MLB teams could begin negotiating with him in earnest, but Pittsburgh apparently had the inside track from the beginning. Pittsburgh's Mexican scout, Jesus “Chino” Valdez (former GM of the Mexican Pacific League Mazatlan Venados) has known Heredia since the pitcher was 5 years old and is said to be a father figure.

Heredia reportedly possesses four pitches, including a 95 MPH fastball. Once the deal is finalized, the Pirates will send him to their main training complex in Bradenton, Florida.

Friday, August 20, 2010

25,000 CONGREGATE FOR SARAPEROS VICTORY PARADE

The Mexican League champion Saltillo Saraperos were feted with a victory parade in downtown Saltillo two days after closing out their Bicentennial Series win at home against the Puebla Pericos, copping the series, 4 games to 1.

An estimated 25,000 people braved the rain to cheer their heroes. The parade began at 6:00PM local time on Avenidas Universitario, where Saraperos players and coaches disembarked from a bus and began strolling the streets of the Coahuila capital city of 600,000. As the entourage made their way along the 10-kilometer route, the streets became paralyzed with traffic as fans sought to get a closer look (and autographs) from the two-time champions.

Following the parade, the team was given a reception at the Plaza de Ciudad Hermanos, where over 4,000 people intermingled and celebrated with players, among whom pitcher Travis Minix and outfielder Jesus Cota were noticed dancing with fans as the postseason party lasted well into the nighttime hours.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

RODRIGUEZ NAMED LIGA PLAYOFF MVP

Saltillo pitcher Hector Daniel “Dany” Rodriguez has been named the Most Valuable Player of the 2010 LMB playoffs.

The 25-year-old Rodriguez came off a so-so regular season record of 4-4 in 13 starts for the Saraperos to catch fire in the postseason, going 5-0 in six starts with a microscopic 0.66 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 41 innings. He tossed a no-hitter on July 25 against Mexico City and won both his starts in the Bicentennial Series against Puebla as the Saraperos defeated the Pericos in five games to become the twelfth team ever to win two consecutive Liga pennants. Only the Monterrey Industriales of 1947-1949 have won three straight LMB flags.

Rodriguez pitched last winter for his hometown Culiacan Tomateros in the Mexican Pacific League, but it’s not certain whether he’ll be back in the Mex Pac this season. At least four major league organizations are said to be interested in signing the six-foot lefty.

Monday, August 16, 2010

SARAPEROS BEAT PUEBLA IN FIVE GAMES FOR SECOND STRAIGHT LMB FLAG

The Saltillo Saraperos destroyed Puebla, 21-2, Monday night in Saltillo to put an exclamation point on their five-game conquest of the Pericos in the Mexican League Bicentennial Series for their second consecutive LMB pennant.

Former Milwaukee and Baltimore pitcher Jose Mercedes was masterful in winning the clinching game by tossing all nine innings for the Saraperos in a contest that the Pericos actually led 1-0 after the top of the first. Of Mercedes’ 120 pitches, 90 were strikes.

Saltillo started the series last week by winning the first two games on the road in come-from-behind fashion by scores of 6-4 and 4-3. After the series moved to Saltillo, Puebla scored eight runs in the first and went on to win Game Three, 8-5, but the Saraperos came back to shut the Pericos out, 5-0, on Sunday before closing the set and season with Monday’s mauling.

Refugio Cervantes highlighted the final game with a pair of homers for Saltillo to finish the postseason with nine longballs in 18 contests.

FOUR MLB TEAMS REPORTEDLY INTERESTED IN SALTILLO PITCHER RODRIGUEZ

There wasn’t a whole lot of attention paid to Saltillo pitcher Hector Daniel Rodriguez during the regular season. The 25-year-old Culiacan native had a so-so summer for the Saraperos, with a 4-4 mark and a 3.97 ERA. Not bad, but not eye-raising, either. Then came the Mexican League playoffs.

Rodriguez was nothing short of dominant in the postseason, turning in a perfect 5-0 record (including a July 25 no-hitter against Mexico City) while recording a 0.66 ERA. Now, according to the Vanguardia website, no less than four teams are lining up to talk to the six-foot lefty about a contract, including the Rockies, Mets, Dodgers and Yankees. The website quotes Saltillo general manager Sergio Ley as saying the four teams have contacted the Saraperos about Rodriguez, but “nothing concrete” has come from the talks.

Any MLB team seeking to sign Rodriguez will first have to acquire his rights from Saltillo before negotiating an individual contract…and after the past four weeks, he won’t come cheap.

VENADOS REPLACE GM VALDEZ WITH ANDRES CRUZ

The Mazatlan Venados have replaced general manager Jesus “Chino” Valdez with former pitcher Andres Cruz. The Venados are one of Mexico’s most successful baseball organizations, and Valdez received the Mexican Pacific League’s GM of the Year award a year ago. However, Valdez has been shifted to scouting duties by team president Jose Luis Martinez to make room for Cruz, who pitched for the Deer in the 1990’s.



“This is something we’d been thinking about for some time,” Martinez said. “We are looking for the best production from each person in their area so everyone has time to give more than 100 percent.”



The Venados also named journalist Jorge Lechuga as the team’s first media relations officer. Lechuga has been a beat writer covering both the Culiacan Tomateros and Saltillo Saraperos, and handled public relations for the Laguna Vaqueros in the past.

ENSENADA TOPS GUAYMAS FOR LIGA NORTE CROWN IN FIVE-GAME FINALS

The Ensenada Marineros defeated the Guaymas Ostioneros, 4-0, on August 9 to cop the Mexican Northern League championship series in five games over the defending champions. Dominican pitcher Alexis Candelario went seven shutout innings for Ensenada to win the LNM title clincher while Jose Alexis Galician took the loss after allowing three runs in 6.1 frames.

Ensenada finished with the second-best record in the LNM at 49-21, but the Marineros were third in points behind 40-26-2 Caborca in points, 6.5 to 7.0, because (for whatever reason) the league decided not to award points for the second half in which Caborca went 11-16-1 while Ensenada was 20-10.


Tijuana finished first both halves with an overall record of 54-14-2, but was bounced from the playoffs by Guaymas in the first round in seven games. Ensenada eliminated Caborca, 4 games to 1.

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 16, 2010

NO DOUBT ABOUT THIS ONE: SALTILLO MAULS PUEBLA, 21-2, TO WIN LIGA PENNANT

The Saltillo Saraperos strung together 17 runs between the third and fifth innings and went on to blast the Puebla Pericos, 21-2, Monday night to win the Mexican League Bicentennial Series, 4 games to 1, and clinch the LMB pennant for a second year in a row. A crowd of 15,421 on hand for Game Five at Saltillo’s Parque Francisco I. Madero erupted when Puebla’s Alberto Carreon lined out to Christian Presichi in right field for the final out of the season in the top of the ninth.

Refugio “Cuco” Cervantes (pictured) swung the biggest bat for the Saraperos, bashing a pair of homers, scoring four runs and driving in five with three hits in four trips to the plates. Cervantes’ two-homer night gave him a total of nine roundtrippers over 18 playoff contests. Shortstop Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez, Saltillo’s number nine batter, ended the night 4-for-5 with three doubles and three ribbies as the Saraperos rang up 20 hits to Puebla’s eleven.

Believe it or not, Puebla actually held a 1-0 lead after scoring in the top of the first when Ricardo Serrano led off the game with a double against Saltillo starter Jose Mercedes, then coming in to score two batter later on Luis Suarez’ fielder’s choice grounder to third base. After that, it was all Saltillo.

The Saraperos immediately took the lead with three counters in the bottom of the first, two of them on Cervantes’ first homer. After neither team scored in the second, Saltillo scored five runs in the third as both Cervantes and Jesus Cota went deep, four more in the fourth (including a two-run single by Presichi) and exploded for eight tallies in the fifth as twelve Saraperos came to the dish with Gabriel Martinez contributing a three-run shot to center field. By then the score was 20-1 and it became a matter of “when,” not “if,” the pennant celebration would begin Monday night in Saltillo.

Former Milwaukee and Baltimore pitcher Jose Mercedes was the recipient of all 21 Saltillo runs, but he only needed three of them. The 39-year-old Dominican righty went the distance in a masterful performance, throwing strikes on 90 of his 120 pitches and walking no Puebla batters.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 15, 2010

RODRIGUEZ, SARAPEROS BLANK PUEBLA, 5-0, AS SALTILLO NEARS PENNANT REPEAT

Hector Daniel Rodriguez (pictured) continued his dominant postseason pitching to lead the Saltillo Saraperos to a 5-0 shutout of the Puebla Pericos Sunday in Game Four of the Mexican League’s Bicentennial Series. Rodriguez tossed eight shutout innings for the Saraperos in front of 15,111 witnesses at Saltillo’s Parque Francisco I. Madero. The defending champs now lead Puebla, 3 games to 1.

The Saraperos drew first blood in the bottom of the third inning when Gabriel Martinez stroked a two-out single to left to score Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez and Willie Romero. Saltillo then plated a run in the fifth on a Jose Rodriguez RBI single, once in the sixth when Noe Munoz chased Puebla starter Omar Espinoza with a leadoff line drive homer to left, and one more time in the seventh when Rodriguez came in from third on a Martinez sacrifice fly to left. Romero finished 3-for-4 for Saltillo with two runs scored while Martinez, Jose Rodriguez and Munoz each gathered two hits. Valentin Gamez and Miguel Torrero had two hits apiece for the Pericos.

After a regular season in which he finished 4-4 with a 3-97 ERA in 12 starts for Saltillo, Rodriguez saw his playoff record rise to 5-0 by scattering seven hits and a pair of walks through his eight frames of work, striking out nine Pericos batsmen. The 25-year-old lefty’s earned-run average in the Liga postseason was 0.66 going into Sunday’s contest. According to the Vanguardia.com website, four major league organizations are said to be interested in signing Rodriguez, who was 4-2 with a 2.39 ERA for Culiacan last winter in the Mexican Pacific League.

The Saraperos will try to end the 2010 LMB season at home Monday when they take on Puebla in Game Five of the title series. If the Pericos win, Game Six will be played Wednesday at Estadio Hermanos Serdan in Puebla.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 14, 2010

PERICOS’ EIGHT-RUN FIRST TOO MUCH FOR SALTILLO; CHAMPS STILL LEAD SERIES

After waiting out a 90-minute rain delay, the Puebla Pericos made short work of the Saltillo Saraperos Saturday night, winning Game Three, 8-5, to score their first win in the Mexican League title series. The Saraperos still lead the title set, 2 games to one, despite suffering a loss in front of 14,738 fans in Saltillo’s Parque Francisco I. Madero.

Puebla jumped on Saltillo starter Fernando Villalobos and reliever Alejandro Garrido for eight runs in the top of the first inning. Eleven batters came to the plate in what has been the largest single-inning outburst in the Liga playoffs this year. Valentin Gamez whacked a solo homer, Rene Reyes sent a three-run bomb sailing over the center field fence and Ricardo Serrano (pictured) belted his own three-run circuit clout to highlight the outpouring of runs.

Saltillo did put three runs across the plate in the bottom of the fourth, thanks in part to consecutive bases-loaded RBI singles by Christian Presichi and Jesus Cota, and added runs on Refugio Cervantes’ solo homer in the sixth and Willie Romero’s run-scoring single in the seventh, but the defending Mexican League champions had too much of a deficit to overcome.

Pericos ace Andres Meza (6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER) did not have his best of nights, but with an eight-run lead before he even took the mound, he didn’t have to. Villalobos was handed the loss after allowing six earned runs on five hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning. Puebla closer Luis Ramirez picked up his fifth save in the postseason by tossing 1.2 frames of scoreless ball, but frankly, the work was done long before he entered the game with two outs to go in the eighth.

Puebla has halved Saltillo’s lead in the series as the Saraperos will take a 2-games-to-1 advantage into Sunday’s home game with the Pericos, but make no mistake: Losing the first two games of the LMB title set at home has made Puebla’s quest for a Liga pennant a very difficult task. They’ll need to win Sunday to tie the Bicentennial Series and regain home field advantage.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 12, 2010

SARAPEROS HOLD ON FOR 4-3 GAME TWO WIN, HEADING HOME UP 2-TO-0 IN FINAL

Saltillo’s Gabriel Martinez cracked a two-run homer to straightaway center field in the top of the eighth inning and Travis Minix combined with Mario Mendoza, Jr. to hold Puebla scoreless over the last two frames as the Saraperos held on to beat the Pericos, 4-3, Thursday to take a 2-games-to-0 lead over Puebla in the Mexican League’s 2010 Bicentennial Series. A crowd of 9,111 gathered at Puebla’s Estadio Hermanos Serdan to witness the completion of a game suspended by rain after four innings Thursday night.

The defending champion Saraperos came into Thursday’s portion of the contest with a 2-1 lead after scoring twice in the second inning the night before, including an RBI single by Jesus Cota. Puebla had put their run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when Ricardo Serrano singled in Cesar Tapia off Saltillo starter Hector Rodriguez (who was seeking his fifth playoff win).

When play resumed Thursday, Francisco Felix had replaced Rodriguez on the mound. Felix gave up two Pericos runs, one in the fifth when Ivan Cervantes scored on a Willis Otanez bases-loaded grounder to third base. The other Puebla tally occurred in the seventh on Otanez’ line-drive single to left that brought in Serafin Rodriguez with the go-ahead run, giving the Pericos a 3-2 advantage. Thomas Melgarejo replaced Felix after Otanez’ RBI and struck out Rene Reyes to end the inning.

In the top of the eighth, Jose Cobos came on in relief of Lorenzo Barcelo, who’d tossed three hitless innings as a second-day replacement on the mound for Puebla starter Guadalupe Perez. Cobos opened the inning by allowing a Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez single, but was able to get both Willie Romero and Jose Rodriguez out before leaving the contest in favor of Mauricio Lara. Lara bounced his first pitch to Martinez in the dirt before the Saltillo third baseman drilled the next offering over the centerfield wall to put the Saraperos ahead for good.

Minix had a 1-2-3 eighth for Saltillo, although it took a perfect strike from left fielder Jesus Cota to nail Miguel Torrero at second for the third out after Torrero tried stretching a single to a double. Mendoza had a 1-2-3 ninth for the Saraperos without incident to pick up the save. Melgarejo earned the win for Saltillo while Lara took the loss for Puebla. Martinez was 2-for-3 for the Saraperos, while Serrano and Torrero each collected a pair of safeties for the Pericos.

With home-field advantage now firmly in the Saraperos’ hands, the series shifts to Saltillo for the next three games (if needed). Game Three was originally scheduled for Friday at Parque Francisco I. Madero, but has now been pushed back to Saturday night at 7PM local time to allow for a travel day Friday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 11, 2010

LMB TITLE SERIES GAME TWO SUSPENDED BY RAIN

With the Saltillo Saraperos holding a 2-1 lead over Puebla after four innings Wednesday night, Game Two was suspended by home plate umpire Jose Vargas after rain made further play at Puebla’s Estadio Hermanos Serdan impossible. The game will be resumed Thursday.
Saltillo starting pitcher Hector Daniel Rodriguez, a leading candidate for playoff MVP with four postseason wins and a 0.82 ERA, was reasonably effective through his four innings on the mound, limiting the Pericos to a single run on four hits and two walks. Puebla’s Guadalupe Perez (pictured), who has struggled at times with a 5.06 ERA, pitched well enough to keep the Pericos in the ballgame by letting in a pair of runs on four hits and three bases on balls. Both pitchers had three strikeouts.

The Saraperos scored both their runs in the top of the second with Noe Munoz coming home from second with the game’s first run on a Jesus Cota single. With the bases loaded two batters later, Christian Presichi made it two Saltillo counters in the frame by scoring from third on a sacrifice double play fly out by Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez. Puebla pushed their lone run across the plate in the bottom of the third when Cesar Tapia scored on Ricardo Serrano’s two-out single to right. The contest was called after Rodriguez induced Miguel Torrero to fly out to Presichi in right to end the fourth.

The game will resume Thursday at 1PM local time in the top of the fifth with Saltillo’s Jonathan Aceves at the plate against the Pericos. The Saraperos lead the Bicentennial Series, 1 game to 0.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 10, 2010

SALTILLO SCORES TWICE IN NINTH TO TIP PUEBLA, 6-5, IN CHAMPIONSHIP OPENER

2010 Mexican League batting champion Willis Otanez made his first appearance of the playoffs for Puebla Tuesday night, but it’ll go down as a game he’d probably rather forget. Pinch-hitting for Valentin Gamez (who is hitting .340 in the postseason, including two hits in this game), the former major leaguer popped out to second base with two Pericos on base in the eighth, then committed a throwing error in the ninth that allowed Saltillo to score the game-tying run. The defending Liga champion Saraperos tallied one more time and held on for a 6-5 win in Game One of the Mexican League’s Bicentennial Series as 10,389 fans looked on in Puebla’s Estadio Hermanos Serdan.

It would be unfair to place goat horns on Otanez, however, as Saltillo’s win was as much a product of opportunistic hitting and a bullpen that put on an effective performance in the wake of a mediocre outing by starter Jose Mercedes. The Saraperos outhit the Pericos by a 12-8 margin, although Puebla did rock Mercedes for three homers, two of them coming in the fourth.
Saltillo opened the game by scoring a run in the top of the first, as Jose Rodriguez sliced a double to left field and eventually came in to score on a Gabriel Martinez groundout. The Saraperos took a 2-0 advantage in the second when Christian Presichi singled, moved to third on a Jesus Cota double and scored from third on Jonathan Aceves sacrifice fly.

Puebla brought out the long ball to get back into the game, however, as Rene Reyes led off the bottom of the second with a homer off Mercedes to right. The Pericos tied the game at 2-2 in the third the old-fashioned way when Gamez singled, took second on an Ivan Cervantes sacrifice bunt, moved to third on a Serafin Rodriguez groundout to second and crossed the plate on a Luis Suarez single.

The home team grabbed the lead in the fourth on Cesar Tapia’s one-out home run to left, then added two more when (with two out) Gamez singled sharply off the glove of Mercedes, who promptly served up a two-run gopher ball to Cervantes to give Puebla a 5-2 lead. Mercedes settled down and lasted into the seventh inning, when he was replaced by Thomas Melgarejo with two down.

For their part, Saltillo was unable to put another run across against Pericos starter Omar Espinoza until the seventh, when a Willie Romero triple was followed by a Rodriguez homer to bring the Saraperos to within one run. After a scoreless eighth, things fell apart for Puebla in the top of the ninth.

Romero led off the frame by singling against LMB saves leader Luis Ramirez, who then walked Rodriguez to move Romero into scoring position. After Martinez went down swinging for the first out, Refugio Cervantes hit a grounder to Otanez at first, who threw to Miguel Torrero at third to force out Romero. The throw sailed past Torrero, though, and Romero rounded third and scored the tying run while Rodriguez moved from first to third and Cervantes advanced to second on the overthrow. Ramirez then walked the dangerous Noe Munoz (.370 playoff average) to load the bases for the equally-danferous Presichi (.351 postseason). Presichi lofted a 1-1 pitch to Reyes in center field for the second out, but Rodriguez beat the throw home for the go-ahead run (pictured). Jesus Cota then whiffed to end the scoring.
It came down to Mario Mendoza, Jr. on the mound to preserve the lead for Saltillo, and the son of the Salon de la Fama shortstop responded by retiring the side in order to earn the save and seal the win.

Romero finished with a 3-for-5 night and two runs for the Saraperos while Rodriguez added two hits, two RBIs and scored three times, including the deciding run. Eight of Puebla’s nine starters in the batting order had at least one hit, but only Gamez had two safeties before being pulled for Otanez. Cecilio Garibaldi, who came up huge for Saltillo in Sunday’s LMB North title-clincing game against Monterrey, got the win for Saltillo while Ramirez took the loss for the Pericos.

Game Two of the championship series is set for Wednesday night in Puebla before the series shifts north to Saltillo beginning Friday.

Monday, August 9, 2010

SARAPEROS SEEK SECOND STRAIGHT FLAG AFTER WINNING LMB NORTH FINAL

A clutch pitching performance by Cecilio Garibaldi in the ninth inning capped a 6-4 Saltillo win over Monterrey Saturday night, giving the Saraperos a 4-to-2 Zona Madero final series win and a berth in the Mexican League championship series. With 24,385 attendees in Estadio Monterrey looking on, Garibaldi struck out the Sultanes’ Agustin Murillo on three pitches with the bases loaded to end the game.

The series victory puts the Saraperos in the Mexican League championship series for the second consecutive season. Saltillo defeated Quintana Roo, 4 games to 2, for the city’s first undisputed pennant since joining the LMB in 1970. This time around, Saltillo will take on the Puebla Pericos in a best-of-seven Bicentennial Series (commemorating Mexican independence of 1810), beginning Tuesday night in the Pericos’ home park.

PERICOS WIN LMB SOUTH CROWN, BICENTENNIAL SERIES NEXT

The Puebla Pericos scored three runs in the second inning and went on to defeat the Oaxaca Guerreros, 8-3, Sunday to win their Mexican League Zona Hidalgo final series by a 4-games-to-2 margin. 2009 LMB Pitcher of the Year, Andres Meza, allowed one earned run in seven innings for the Parrots to cop his third playoff win this year as 11,799 fans watched on in Puebla’s Estadio Hermanos Serdan.

The Pericos added single runs in the third and fourth frames, two more in the sixth and another tally in the seventh to go up 8-0. Meza kept up his end of the bargain by scattering seven hits while his infield turned three double plays behind him to quash any Guerreros offensive threats.

The current incarnation of the Pericos have yet to win a Liga pennant since the LMB returned to Puebla in 2000, but the city has been home to four Mexican League championship teams (including the Liga’s first season in 1925).

OAKLAND DEALS FOR TIGRES ACE CRAMER

Quintana Roo left-handed pitcher Bobby Cramer, who led the Mexican League in several categories this year, has been acquired from the Tigres by the Oakland Athletics organization. Cramer, who topped the Liga in wins (13), complete games (5), shutouts (3), strikeouts (123) and WHIP (1.12) and finished third in the LMB table with a 2.95 ERA while issuing just 27 bases on balls, has been sent to the A’s AAA affiliate in Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League.

Cramer, a native of Anaheim, California who turns 31 in October, was a 38th round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2001, but never signed a contract with the M’s. After undergoing Tommy John shoulder surgery in 2002, he signed with Tampa Bay and made his pro debut with the Rays’ Class A Hudson Valley affiliate of the New York-Penn League one year later. He spent two years in the Tampa Bay system as a reliever, but was out of organized ball in 2005 and 2006. Oakland signed Cramer in 2007 for the first of four stints in the A’s organization, including his current assignment in the PCL.
His minor league career record prior to 2010 was 27-16 with a 3.38 ERA in 105 games, including 39 starts.

PERICOS STAR SUAREZ TO PLAY WINTERBALL IN VERACRUZ LEAGUE

Puebla Pericos star outfielder Luis Suarez has agreed to play winter baseball for the Xalapa Chileros of the Veracruz Winter League. Suarez, who will play for Puebla in the Mexican League’s Bicentennial Series against Saltillo for the LMB title, batted .361 for the Pericos during the regular season with eight homers and 63 RBIs during the regular season.

The 31-year-old lefty-hitting Suarez has a career batting average of .327 with 89 homers in ten LMB seasons. He came to Puebla last year in a midseason trade. Suarez hit .326 for Los Mochis in the Mexican Pacific League last winter, but says he wanted to spend the upcoming winter closer to home. “I am very glad to be back to play with the Chileros,” he said in a telephone interview. “Xalapa is my home.”


Suarez has played three winters in Xalapa, including with one LIV pennant-winning team in 2007.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 8, 2010

PUEBLA BESTS OAXACA, TO FACE SALTILLO IN BICENTENNIAL SERIES

The Puebla Pericos scored three runs in the second inning and went on to defeat the Oaxaca Guerreros, 8-3, Sunday to win their Mexican League Zona Hidalgo final series by a 4-games-to-2 margin. 2009 LMB Pitcher of the Year, Andres Meza (pictured), allowed one earned run in seven innings for the Parrots to cop his third playoff win this year as 11,799 fans watched on in Puebla’s Parque Hermanos Serdan.

After Rene Reyes lined out to Oaxaca’s Christian Quintero to open the bottom of the second, Omar De La Torre and Cesar Tapia were walked by Heriberto Rodriguez (who replaced expected Guerreros starter Francisco Rosario), who then allowed RBI singles by Miguel Terrero and Valentin Gamez. That was all for Rodriguez, who was pulled for Sergio Valenzuela. Valenzuela get the final two outs, although Terrero scored on Ivan Cervantes’ sacrifice fly to bring the score to 3-0.

That was pretty much the ballgame right there, as the Pericos added single runs in the third and fourth frames, two more in the sixth and another tally in the seventh to go up 8-0. Through the first seven entradas, Meza kept up his end of the bargain by blanking Oaxaca while scattering seven hits while his infield turned three double plays behind him to quash any Guerreros offensive threats.

Oaxaca finally reached Meza for three hits, including a two-run single by Game Five hero Jolbert Cabrera, and Meza was replaced by Jose Cobos. One more Oaxaca run crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly, but that would end the scoring for the visitors as Luis Ramirez came in for Cobos and struck out Erick Rodriguez to end the inning. After a scoreless turn at the plate by Puebla, Ramirez notched his fourth postseason save by setting down the Guerreros in order in the ninth, battling Eloy Gutierrez for eight pitches before Gutierrez lifted a fly ball to center field that Reyes hauled in for the final out of the series.

Serafin Rodriguez led the Puebla offense by going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and Torrero added two hits and two ribbies. Gutierrez was 3-for-5 with a run scored for Oaxaca to finish the playoffs with a .429 average, while Cabrera and Jaime Brena each had two hits.

With the win, the Pericos move on to the Bicentennial Series against Saltillo for the Liga championship, beginning Tuesday in Puebla.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 7, 2010

SALTILLO ELIMINATES MONTERREY TO REACH MLB TITLE SERIES

A clutch pitching performance by Cecilio Garibaldi in the ninth inning capped a 6-4 Saltillo win over Monterrey Saturday night, giving the Saraperos a 4-to-2 Zona Madero final series win and a berth in the Mexican League championship series. With 24,385 attendees in Estadio Monterrey looking on, Garibaldi struck out the Sultanes’ Agustin Murillo on three pitches with the bases loaded to end the game.

Chris Roberson scored the game’s first run for Monterrey by leading off the bottom of the first inning with a double and later coming around to score on a two-out single up the middle by Luis Alfonso Garcia. Saltillo tied the game at 1-1 on Jose Rodriguez’ leadoff homer in the fourth and went ahead one inning later on Jesus Cota’s solo round-tripper. The Saraperos padded their lead with two runs in the top of the seventh as Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez plated a run on Rodriguez’ sacrifice fly and Willie Romero glided in to score on a sharply hit single by Gabriel Martinez, making it a 4-1 ballgame.

The Sultanes made a comeback in the seventh when both Mendy Lopez and Humberto Cota rapped RBI doubles, but Saltillo reliever Mario Mendoza. Jr. got the final out with the bases loaded to end the inning. The Saraperos added some insurance in the ninth on a Gonzalez RBI single and made it 6-3 when Jesus Cota streaked home from third on a Julio Manon wild pitch.


Monterrey made a last-gasp effort in the bottom of the ninth, putting the first three batsmen on base. Garcia drilled an RBI single to bring the Sultanes to within two runs. Alejandro Garrido struck out Edgar Quintero before Garibaldi came in to get Humberto Cota on a pop-up to short before the series-ending Murillo strikeout.

The Saraperos will next play the winner of the Puebla-Oaxaca series for the pennant.



CABRERA WALKOFF HOMER KEEPS OAXACA ALIVE

A solo homer by ex-big leaguer Jolbert Cabrera in the bottom of the ninth inning gave Oaxaca a 5-4 win over Puebla Saturday, completing a game that had been suspended by rain in the middle of the fourth frame Friday night. The walkoff blast in front of 7,523 screaming fans at Oaxaca’s Parque Eduardo Vasconcelos kept the Guerreros alive in the Mexican League Zona Hidalgo title series, although Puebla still leads by a 3-games-to-2 margin.

The game picked up where it left off Friday with the score tied at 2-2. The Pericos nudged into the lead on Ricardo Serrano’s RBI double in the top of the sixth, and padded their advantage to 4-2 in the eighth on a Serrano run-scoring single. Oaxaca pulled into a 4-4 tie with two in the bottom of the frame when Eloy Gutierrez doubled home Alejandro Gonzalez and then scored on Juan Canizalez’ single.

Oaxaca closer Yoel Hernandez wriggled out of a jam in the ninth. With runners at the corners and only one out, he was able to coax consecutive pop-ups to second by Ivan Cervantes and Serafin Rodriguez to end the Puebla threat. The game came down to Cabrera’s at-bat against Puebla’s LMB saves leader Luis Ramirez. On a 1-1 count, Cabrera clouted his game-winner over the left field wall and was carried off the field by jubilant teammates (pictured). Hernandez got the win, while Ramirez took the loss.

The series now shifts to Puebla’s Estadio Hermanos Serdan for Game Six. Andres Meza will start for the Pericos on Sunday while Francisco Rosario takes the hill for Oaxaca.

Friday, August 6, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 6, 2010

LMB SOUTH GAME FIVE SUSPENDED BY RAIN

The fifth game of the Mexican League’s Hidalgo Zone final in Oaxaca was suspended by rain Friday night with the host Guerreros and Puebla knotted up 2-2 in the middle of the fourth inning at Oaxaca’s Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos.

Oaxaca went up 2-0 in the bottom of the first when Alejandro Gonzalez scored from third on a Juan Carlos Canizalez groundout and Christian Quintero followed with a single that scored Eloy Gutierrez. Puebla came back with two of their own in the top of the second on a Valentin Gamez RBI single that brought in Cesar Tapia and an Ivan Cervantes double that scored Miguel Torrero from second base. Oaxaca starter Rolando Valdez and his Puebla counterpart, Lorenzo Barcelo, traded shutout innings until the cloudburst made play impossible after Puebla’s Luis Suarez flied out to center to end the top of the fourth.

Game Five is scheduled to resume Saturday at 1:00PM local time in Oaxaca. Puebla leads the series, 3-games-to-1, with the LMB South winner taking on the winner of the Monterrey-Saltillo series in the North in the Bicentennial Series for the Liga pennant, with Game One currently scheduled to take place August 10 at the home park of the southern division champion.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 5, 2010

SALTILLO CLUBS MONTERREY, 14-3, TO TAKE 3-2 SERIES LEAD

A seven-run explosion in the second inning propelled the Saltillo Saraperos to a 14-3 win over the Monterrey Sultanes Thursday night in Game Five their Mexican League Madero Zone final series. The defending LMB champions are now one win away from a berth in the Liga Championship Series as 15,721 fans watched in Saltillo’s Parque Francisco I. Madero.

Monterrey actually had a 1-0 lead after Chris Roberson came home on a Hector Rodriguez wild pitch in the top of the first, but Rodriguez settled down to go seven innings and giving up two runs to run his playoff record to 4-0 with the win. Not that he had a lot to worry about after that second inning in which his Saltillo teammates racked up seven tallies. Monterrey starter Edgar Gonzalez started the frame by walking the first three Saraperos batsmen he faced before giving up a grand slam homer to Jonathan Aceves. Gabriel Martinez added a two-run single and then scored from first on Refugio Cervantes’ double. Amazingly, Gonzalez pitched to all ten Saltillo batters that inning, but was gone in the third.

Monterrey’s Roberson scored on a Heber Gomez double in the top of the third, but it just wasn’t the Sultanes night as Saltillo racked up two runs in the fourth and five more in the fifth to make it 14-2 and essentially put the game in their hip pockets. Surprisingly, despite the lopsided final score, both teams finished with 11 hits on the night. Willie Romero and Jose Rodriguez each had three safeties for Saltillo as Romero raised his playoff batting average to .491.

Friday will be a night off before the series resumes with Game Six in Monterrey on Saturday.



PERICOS ONE WIN AWAY FROM ZONA HIDALGO CROWN AFTER 14-9 WIN

The absence of Liga batting champion Willis Otanez in the lineup since last month with a foot injury has concerned Puebla fans, but the Pericos seem to be doing reasonably well in his absence. Puebla put 20 hits on the scoreboard Thursday night in a 14-9 pasting of Oaxaca to take a 3-games-to-1 lead in their LMB South title set as 7,496 viewers jammed into Oaxaca’s Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos.

Like the game in Saltillo, Oaxaca was ahead, 1-0, after a wild pitch by Puebla starter Guadalupe Perez let in Alejandro Gonzalez from third base in the first inning. The Pericos responded with five runs in the second after Guerreros starter Sergio Valenzuela loaded the bases with nobody out before giving up consecutive RBI singles to Miguel Torrero and Valentin Gamez to make it 2-1. Ivan Cervantes lined into a double play, but singles by Serafin Rodriguez and Ricardo Serrano made it a 3-1 game to end Valenzuela’s night and the rout was on.

The Pericos scored three times in the third to stretch their lead to 8-1, and although Oaxaca added a pair of runs in the fourth, Puebla scored six times between the fifth and seventh frames to all but put the contest out of reach at 14-3. Oaxaca did score three runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to close the gap to the final 14-9 score, but for all intent and purposes this one was done after the third.

Omar De La Torre was 4-for-5 with three runs for Puebla and both Rene Reyes and Gamez had three hits each. Gamez, filling in at first for the injured Otanez, is hitting .333 in the postseason.

Game Five is slated for Friday night in Oaxaca.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 4, 2010

CERVANTES CRACKS SIXTH PLAYOFF HOMER AS SALTILLO TOPS SULTANES, 4-3

Refugio Cervantes is proving his Mexican League Home Run Derby title this year was no fluke by bashing his sixth playoff homer to lead Saltillo to a 4-3 win over Monterrey Wednesday to knot their LMB North final series at two games apiece while 13,852 watched at Saltillo’s Parque Francisco I. Madero.

Monterrey manufactured a run in the top of the first when leadoff batter Chris Roberson walked, moved to second on an error and scored on Luis Alfonso Garcia’s single to center. Saltillo evened the score at 1-1 in the third when Jonathan Aceves singled, stole second and came around to score on Willie Romero’s two-out single. Cervantes lined his homer to left field in the fourth to put the Saraperos back in front, but Augie Murillo led off the fifth for Monterrey with a homer and the Sultanes added one more in the frame when Roberson singled in Carlos Orrantia to make it a 3-2 lead for Monterrey.

Saltillo came back to tie the game in the sixth on Jesus Cota’s RBI triple, and Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez put the defending champs ahead for good on a Jose Rodriguez sacrifice fly in the seventh. Travis Minix got the win with three scoreless innings in relief of Saltillo starter Fernando Villalobos. Pablo Menchaca took the loss for Monterrey.

The two sides will square off once more for Game Five in Saltillo Thursday night before the series shifts back to Monterrey for Game Six on Saturday.



QUINTERO’S TWO-RUN BLAST PACES OAXACA’S GAME THREE WIN

Christian Quintero (pictured) hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to give his Oaxaca Guerreros a 3-2 lead and closer Yoel Hernandez turned in a 1-2-3 ninth inning to preserve Oaxaca’s Game Three win over the Puebla Pericos Wednesday night as 7,431 looked on at Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos.
It was a well-pitched ballgame in which starters Omar Espinoza of Puebla and Oaxaca’s Francisco Rosario each had shutouts going into the sixth inning. Rosario lost his on a two-run double to Valentin Gamez in the top of the inning, while Espinoza’s string of goose eggs was halted in the bottom of the frame when Jolbert Cabrera came in from third on a double-play grounder to shortstop by Quintero to bring the Guerreros to a 2-1 deficit, leading to Quintero’s heroics two innings later.

Hernandez got the win for Oaxaca with two shutout innings, while Puebla reliever Jose Cobos saw his playoff record fall to 0-2 after serving up Quintero’s blast.

The Guerreros will take a 2-games-to-1 lead in the LMB South finals into Thursday night’s Game Four in Oaxaca.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 3, 2010

MONTERREY OVERCOMES FIVE-RUN DEFICIT, BEATS SALTILLO, 14-11

The Monterrey Sultanes found themselves trailing the Saltillo Saraperos, 6-1, after four innings Tuesday night, but it was nothing that 12 runs over two innings couldn’t solve as the Sultanes went on to beat the defending Mexican League champions by a 14-11 count to take a 2-games-to-1 lead in their Zona Madero title series before 13,292 fans in Saltillo’s Parque Francisco I. Madero.

Christian Quintero and Jesus Cota each clobbered grand slam homers for the Sultanes, who also got solo homers from Adan Amezcua and Chris Roberson (pictured). Monterrey battered Saltillo starter Jose Mercedes along with relievers Cecilio Garibaldi and Esteban Hernandez for 12 runs on 10 hits and three walks in the fifth and sixth innings alone as the Sultanes batted through the order both frames. The Sultanes added another score in the top of the seventh to stretch their lead to 14-6.

To their credit, Saltillo fought back with three runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to close their deficit to 14-11, but Monterrey closer Julio Manon came on in the eighth with two out and the bases loaded, got Jonathan Aceves to ground into a force out at third to end the inning and held Saltillo scoreless in the bottom of the ninth for his fifth playoff save. Manon’s postseason ERA is now at 1.17.

Monterrey outhit Saltillo, 15-13 for the game. Luis Alfonso Garcia was 3-for-4 for the Sultanes and Willie Romero went 3-for-6 for the Saraperos. Reliever Hugo Castellanos got the win for Monterrey, who used eight pitchers in all, and Garibaldi suffered the loss for Saltillo.

The two clubs will square off Wednesday night for Game Four in Saltillo, with Game Five set for Thursday.

Monday, August 2, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 2, 2010

TENTH-INNING ERRORS HANDS PUEBLA 7-6 WIN, TWO GAME SERIES LEAD

Anyone who has followed baseball for any length of time knows that yesterday’s stud can be today’s goat. Oaxaca’s Victor Mercedes provided an object lesson Monday night when he committed a throwing error that allowed Puebla’s Miguel Torrero to score the winning run in the bottom of the tenth inning, giving the Pericos a 7-6 victory over the Guerreros in Game Two of their Mexican League Zona Hidalgo title series in front of 9,989 spectators at Puebla’s Estadio Hermanos Serdan.

Oaxaca went up 1-0 in the top of the first on Mercedes’ RBI single, but Puebla responded with three counters in the bottom of the inning as Luis Suarez bashed a two-run homer. A Jaime Brena double scored Juan Carlos Canizalez in the second for Oaxaca to tie the score at 2-2, but in the bottom of the frame Serafin Rodriguez cracked a three-run shot to left for the Pericos, giving Puebla a 5-2 lead.

Horacio Vasquez singled in Canizalez with Oaxaca’s third run in the top of the fourth, but the Pericos matched that in the bottom of the fifth when Suarez led off with a double and later scored on Torrero’s single to make it a 6-3 Puebla advantage. However, Oaxaca fought back for two runs in the sixth on run-scoring singles by Erick Rodriguez and Jolbert Carera, and then tied the game at 3-all in the seventh on Brena’s RBI safety to right field.

The score remained 3-3 into the bottom of the tenth, when Torrero hit a one-out single off Oaxaca closer Yoel Hernandez and moved to third on a Valentin Gamez single, bringing up Ivan Cervantes. After a pickoff attempt to first by Hernandez, Cervantes hit a grounder on the first pitch to Mercedes at third, who overthrew first baseman Cabrera, allowing Torrero to motor home from third to end the game. Mercedes was the hero in Oaxaca’s Game Seven win over Quintana Roo after hitting a bases-loaded series-winning single in the bottom of the ninth on Friday, but he put on the horns Monday night.

Suarez led Puebla at the plate with a 4-for-5 night while Rodriguez had three hits. Brena turned in three hits for the Guerreros. Puebla reliever Luis Ramirez earned the win while Hernandez took the loss. Puebla will take a 2-0 series lead into Game Three Wednesday night in Oaxaca.

SULTANES, SARAPEROS SPLIT FIRST TWO LMB NORTH FINAL GAMES

Chris Roberson (pictured sliding into second base) stroked a three-run double as part of a five-run Monterrey uprising in the seventh inning Sunday night as the Sultanes went on to beat Saltillo, 5-2, in front of over 22,000 fans at Estadio Monterrey in Game Two of the Mexican League Zona Madero finals. Saltillo shut out Monterrey, 4-0, in Saturday’s opener as Hector Daniel Rodriguez threw six scoreless innings for the defending champion Saraperos on the heels of his no-hitter against Mexico City in the first round.

Saltillo overcame a 3-games-to-1 deficit against the Diablos Rojos by winning three straight contests (two in Mexico City), including an 11-4 pasting of the Diablos last Wednesday night. Monterrey had an easier time of it in the first round, beating Chihuahua in five games as Sultanes pitcher Edgar Gonzalez let in just one Dorados run in 14 innings over two starts.The Saraperos and Sultanes move to Saltillo for Game Three on Tuesday night.

PERICOS COP FIRST GAME OF LMB SOUTH FINAL AGAINST OAXACA

Cesar Tapia broke open a pitcher’s duel with a three-run homer in the fifth inning Sunday night to pace the Puebla Pericos to a 6-2 win over the Oaxaca Guerreros in Game one of their LMB South final series before 8,112 fanaticos at Puebla’s Estadio Hermanos Serdan. Puebla starter Lorenzo Barcelo and his Oaxaca counterpart, Sergio Valenzuela, were locked up in a 2-1 ballgame when Valenzuela served his gopher ball to Tapia. The Pericos took their 4-2 lead and never looked back.

Puebla eliminated Yucatan in six games in their Zona Hidalgo semifinal, capping off the series with a 4-3 win last Thursday night at home. Oaxaca had to go all seven games to get past Quintana Roo in an emotional first round matchup. Victor Mercedes (pictured) struck the death blow for the Guerreros with a ninth-inning, bases-loaded walk-off (enough hyphens there?) single in last Friday’s 5-4 deciding win.

Game Two of the LMB South final is set for Monday night in Puebla.

MEXICO TAKES BASEBALL SILVER MEDAL AT CENTRAL AMERICAN GAMES

The Mexican National Baseball Team played in the Central American & Caribbean Games last week in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and the Verdes Grande returned home with silver medals after finishing second in the competition under manager Enrique “Che” Reyes.

After dropping their first contest to Nicaragua, 5-2, on July 24, Mexico won two games the next day, taking a 3-2 victory over the Dutch Antilles before slipping past the Dominican Republic, 2-1. A 7-0 pounding of Panama on July 26 vaulted Mexico into the semifinals of the tournament.

The Mexicans shocked host Puerto Rico, 1-0, on July 27 as Ivan Araujo scored the game-winner in the top of the ninth inning. Mexico’s win streak ended at four in the July 28 title game, however, as the Dominicans gained both revenge and the gold with a 3-2 win despite Emmanuel Valdez’ RBI double in the eighth inning. Francisco Campos took the loss for Mexico, whose pitchers allowed just eleven runs over six games (and only six tallies in their last five outings).

MACHEMER HOPING TO BRING OLD MAGIC BACK TO MEXICALI

Former major league infielder Dave Machemer will manage the Mexicali Aguilas this winter in the Mexican Pacific League. Machemer is returning to Mexicali 22 years after he led the Aguilas to their second Mex Pac pennants and an appearance in the Caribbean Series in 1988-89. Mexicali has won just one flag since.

Machemer homered in his first MLB at-bat for California in 1978 but otherwise had a brief career in the majors, hitting .229 in 29 games for the Angels and Detroit between 1978 and 1979. The 59-year-old Missouri native has been far more successful as a minor league manager, winning over 1.400 games and two pennants (with Stockton in the California League in 1986 and the AZL Giants in the Arizona Rookie League in 2008) since 1985.

He’s currently managing the Giants’ Class A South Atlantic League affiliate in Augusta, GA.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: August 1, 2010

SULTANES PARLAY BIG SEVENTH INTO 5-2 WIN, LMB NORTH FINAL TIED

After losing their Mexican League Zona Madero final series opener to Saltillo Saturday night, the Monterrey Sultanes were in danger of losing another game Sunday before the two teams headed to Saltillo for the next three games in the set. However, a five-run outburst in the bottom of the seventh inning overcame a 2-0 deficit as the Sultanes went on to win, 5-2, tying the series at one game apiece.

As a crowd of 22,595 looked on at Estadio Monterrey, Saltillo took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when pinch-hitter Jose Amador doubled off Monterrey starter Jonathan Castellanos to drive in Jesus Cota all the way from first base. The score remained the same until the top of the seventh, when Saraperos leadoff batter Jonathan Aceves greeted Sultanes reliever Gaudencio Aguirre with a home run to left on a 3-2 pitch to make it 2-0.
Monterrey roared back with a huge bottom of the seventh, sending ten men to the plate against five Saltillo pitchers. When the dust settled, the Sultanes had five runs on three hits, three walks and an Alejandro Garrido wild pitch on a third strike to Ramon Rios that should have ended the inning with two Monterrey runs in and the score tied at 2-2. Instead, the bases were loaded for Chris Roberson (pictured sliding into second), who promptly drilled a bases-clearing double to left field, making it a 5-2 contest. From that point, pitchers Pablo Menchaca and Julio Manon held Saltillo hitless the rest of the way to complete the comeback win.

Saltillo leadoff batter Willie Romero went 3-for-5 as the Saraperos actually outhit the Sultanes by a 9-to-5 margin. Romero is now hitting .442 for the playoffs. Menchaca was given the win for Monterrey while Thomas Melgarejo was tagged with the loss.

Game Three of the LMB North finals is slated for Tuesday night in Saltillo.



TAPIA HOMER KEYS PERICOS WIN OVER OAXACA IN LMB SOUTH FINAL OPENER

Starting pitchers Sergio Valenzuela of Oaxaca and Lorenzo Barcelo of Puebla both posted good performances Sunday night, but it was a Cesar Tapia three-run homer off Valenzuela that was the difference-maker in the Pericos’ 6-2 win over the Guerreros before 8,112 fans at Peubla’s Estadio Hermanos Serdan in the LMB South finals opener.
Barcelo earned the win with 7.1 innings of two-run pitching while scattering seven hits and a walk, tossing five shutout frames before allowing two Oaxaca scores in the sixth. For his part, Valenzuela was sailing along, allowing one Puebla run in the second before trouble struck in the fifth. With one run already in, Valenzuela intentionally walked Rene Reyes to pitch to Tapia…not necessarily a bad move as Reyes finished the night 3-for-3 to lift his postseason batting average to .609. But Tapia is hitting .480 in the playoffs himself, and he launched the second pitch over the left field wall to give Puebla a 4-2 lead and the Pericos never looked back.

The Guerreros and Pericos will meet again for Game Two Monday night in Puebla.