Friday, January 15, 2010

HERMOSILLO OPENS SEMI SERIES WITH TWO WINS OVER TOMATEROS

Hermosillo opened their Mex Pac Final Four series against Culiacan with an 8-5 victory over the Tomateros at home on January 12. Former MLB All-Star Vinny Castilla homered, tripled and drove in two runs to pace the Naranjeros, who also got roundtrippers from Luis Alfonso Garcia, Nelson Teilon and Jose Luis Sandoval. Luis Cruz homered twice for Culiacan.

In Game 2, Hermosillo starter Juan Delgadillo let in one unearned run on three hits over 6.1 innings, Garcia doubled twice and scored a run and Jacob Cruz posted two hits with an RBI to put the Naranjeros up, 2 games to 0, with a 4-2 win over Culiacan. Alex Sanchez singled twice, walked and drove in a run for the Tomateros.

The series moved to Culiacan for Game 3 on Friday, January 15.

CIBAO CLINCHES DOMINICAN FINAL BERTH

The Cibao Gigantes have clinched a slot in the Dominican League finals by registering an 11-5 record in the opening four-team, 36-game round robin playoff series.
With two games left in the first round, Cibao is three games ahead of 8-8 Escogido, defending champion Licey has a 7-9 mark, while Del Este is out of the running at 6-10.

Escogido won the regular season title with a 25-17 record, two games ahead of both Licey and Este. Cibao came in fourth at 23-21, but the Gigantes have turned it on in January to qualify for the Dominican Series.

Licey’s Timo Perez won the LiDom batting title with a .356 average while Cibao’s Juan Francisco led the league with 11 homers and 42 RBIs. Jose Capellan of Cibao had a great regular season, leading Dominican League pitchers with seven wins and a 2.15 ERA. His 41 strikeouts were one behind leader Ben Jukich of Cibaenas' 42 whiffs.

MAGALLENES ON TOP OF VENEZUELAN FIRST ROUND STANDINGS

The Magallenes Navegantes are in the driver’s seat of the Venezuelan League’s first round of playoffs with a 9-4 record in the five-team, 40-game round robin.

Hot on the Navegantes’ heels are the Caracas Leones, who are one game back at 8-5. La Guaira remains in contention at 7-5, but Margarita (who will host this year’s Serie Caribe) is 4-8 while Zulia is near elimination with a 3-9 record. Defending Caribbean Series champion Aragua did not qualify for the playoffs this winter.

Magallenes and Caracas tied for first place in the regular season at 41-22, nine games ahead of 32-21 La Guaira in third place. Alcedes Escobar of Lara hit .393 to win the batting title. Zulia’s Ernesto Mejia hit 14 homers, while Wilson Ramos of Aragua drove in 53 runs. Carlos Monasterios of Margarita led all pitchers with seven wins, Margarita’s Alberto Bastardo was tops in ERA at 2.77, and Zulia’s Josh Schmidt had the most strikeouts with 71.

ARECIBO TAKES FIRST PLACE HEADING INTO PUERTO RICO PLAYOFFS

The Arecibo Lobos have won the Puerto Rico Baseball League regular season championship. The Lobos finished at 25-14, four games ahead of 21-20 Carolina. Caguas was a half-game behind the Gigantes at 20-20, while Mayaguez snuck into the playoffs despite an 18-24 record because defending champion Ponce ended the winter at 15-27. The playoffs were slated to begin January 16 with Arecibo meeting Mayaguez and Carolina battling Caguas.

Arecibo will be led in the postseason by outfielder Michel Abreu and pitcher Lavale Speigner. Abreu led Puerto Rico batters with 12 homers and 42 RBIs, while Speigner topped league hurlers with seven wins and a 2.03 ERA. Carolina’s Armando Rios won the batting title with a .367 average. Caguas pitcher Orlando Roman was first on the table with 42 strikeouts.

A special draft of players on the Ponce roster among the four playoff teams was scheduled for Friday. Pitcher Juan Padilla, who went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA for the Leones this season, was expected to draw the most interest.

NEW IBAF CHIEF WANTS WORLD CUP TO BE WBC QUALIFIER

The newly-installed president of the International Baseball Federation wants the IBAF’s World Cup tournament to serve as a qualifier for the next World Baseball Classic.

Italy’s Riccardo Fraccari, who was elected in December to replace Harvey Schiller of the USA as IBAF chief, says, “It is our duty to answer for member countries that qualification for the WBC can be handled by the IBAF.” The IBAF, which was formed in 1938, has 112 member countries, including all 16 nations in each of the first two WBC’s.


Major League Baseball has overseen the selection of WBC competitors in 2006 and 2009. The next WBC is set for 2013. Speaking in Cuba, Fraccari said, “We should discuss this with the majors. It isn’t decided yet, but I think we can expand on the issue.”

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Results (1-08-10 through 1-14-10)

FRIDAY, January 8
No games scheduled

SATURDAY, January 9
Culiacan 5, Mazatlan 3
Mike McCoy cracked a bases-loaded triple and Jose Mercedes tossed 6 innings of 2-run ball as Culiacan forced a Game 7.
Hermosillo 3, Navojoa 0
Travis Blackley won his second game of the playoffs, allowing 1 hit over 8 shutout innings to clinch the series for Hermosillo.

SUNDAY, January 10
Mazatlan 2, Culiacan 1 (10 innings)
Lorenzo Buelna’s walk-off single drove in Jon Weber with the series-ending run for Mazatlan. Weber was 5-for-5 with an RBI.


FIRST ROUND G W L PCT. RF RA +/-
Obregon Yaquis 5 4 1 .800 32 24 +8
Mexicali Aguilas 5 1 4 .200 24 32 -8

Hermosillo Naranjeros 6 4 2 .667 30 29 +1
Navojoa Mayos 6 2 4 .333 29 30 -1

Mazatlan Venados 7 4 3 .571 26 20 +6
Culiacan Tomateros 7 3 4 .429 20 26 -6

Culiacan earns wild card berth in semifinals


MONDAY, January 11
No games scheduled

TUESDAY, January 12
Hermosillo 8, Culiacan 5
Vinny Castilla homered, tripled and had 2 RBIs and Jose Sandoval, Nelson Teilon and Luis Alfonso Cruz hit HRs for Hermosillo.
Mazatlan 4, Obregon 1
Jasiel Acosta won his second playoff game by holding Yaquis to 1 run and 2 hits over 6 innings for Venados.

WEDNESDAY, January 13
Hermosillo 4, Culiacan 2
Juan Delgadillo didn’t allow an earned run over 6.1 innings for Hermosillo as Jacob Cruz singled twice and drove in a run.
Mazatlan 7, Obregon 0
Reid Brignac had 2 hits, 3 RBIs and scored a run and Jon Weber went 3-for-5 with a run as Mazatlan won second straight.

THURSDAY, January 14
No games scheduled


MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
Remaining Semifinal Playoff Schedule
FRI, Jan. 15 Mazatlan at Obregon, Hermosillo at Culiacan
SAT, Jan. 16 Mazatlan at Obregon, Hermosillo at Culiacan
SUN, Jan. 17* Mazatlan at Obregon, Hermosillo at Culiacan
MON, Jan. 18 TRAVEL DAY
TUE, Jan. 19* Obregon at Mazatlan, Culiacan at Hermosillo
WED, Jan. 20* Obregon at Mazatlan, Culiacan at Hermosillo
*If necessary

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #16): Mexico City, D.F.

Originally called Tenochtitlan, Mexico City was the capital of the Aztec nation when it was found by Spanish conquistadores nearly 200 years after natives began building what became a beautiful city of 300,000 built on an island in the middle of a lake. When Cortes and his band of soldiers came upon Tenochtitlan after their 1519 arrival on Mexico’s east coast, they found a city that was easily equal in scope to almost any place in Europe at that time. Although Cortes’ soldiers were badly outnumbered, the Aztec emperor Moctezuma protected him because he thought the fair-skinned, bearded Cortez was the reincarnation of the god Cuetzalcoatl returning to fulfill ancient prophesies. Cortes repaid this hospitality by kidnapping the emperor, attacking a number of Aztec temples and placing Christian chapels alongside their altars. Eventually the natives rebelled, killing Moctezuma and driving Cortes’ forces from the city. It was a matter of time, however, before the Spaniards regrouped and finally took the city for good in August 1521.

Since then, Mexico City has evolved into one of the world’s leading urban areas, with over 25,000,000 residents. It is the capital of Mexico, as well as the nation’s business hub and media center. There are too many places worth visiting in Mexico City to list, but the “can’t miss” list includes the Palacio de Bellas Artes, one of the world’s most beautiful theaters; the Catedral Metropolitana, a massive yet ornate church that took 250 years to finish; the Bosque de Chapultepec park on the city’s west side featuring lakes, woods, lawns, a zoo, amusement park and museums; and the Palacio Nacional, a 17th century edifice housing the President’s office, the national archives, the federal treasury, and awesome courtyard murals painted by Mexico’s most famous artist, Diego Rivera, that give details of national history.

Mexico City is also a center of baseball in the country as home to both the Liga Mexicana offices and the Mexico City Diablo Rojos, who began in 1940. The Red Devils shared Mexico City for decades with the Tigres franchise before the latter moved away in the 1990s. Both teams played at the old Social Security Stadium, which has since been replaced by the modern 25,000-seat Foro Sol, Mexico’s second-largest ballpark. The Diablos have won 15 Mexican League pennants since 1956, most recently in 2008. There has not been a decade in which the team hasn’t won a flag since the 1950s.

NEXT ROAD TRIP STOP (#17): Puebla