Monday, April 5, 2010

STREAKING PERICOS RIDE PITCHERS’ ARMS TO LMB SOUTH LEAD

The Puebla Pericos ended the weekend with a 4-2 win in Campeche on Sunday to bring their current winning streak to eight games, best thus far among Mexican League teams. While the Parrots are third in the Liga in batting with a .324 team average (Willis Otanez is hitting .478 with a league-leading 24 RBIs), it’s pitching that has carried Puebla through the streak.

In six road games last week in Tabasco and Campeche, Pericos pitchers combined to allow just eight runs (including one shutout), with no opponent notching more than two runs in a single game. Omar Espinoza (4-0/2.82) leads the LMB in wins, while fellow starter Guadalupe Perez is 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA. Closer Luis Ramirez (1-1/2.25) tops the circuit with eight saves as Puebla has turned in a team ERA of 3.55.

The 14-3 Pericos have the best record in the Mexican League along with a three-game lead over 11-6 Oaxaca in the LMB South, which is being called the Zona Hidalgo this year by the Liga in recognition of the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s initial fight for independence. It was Father Miguel Hidalgo’s famous cry for freedom in 1810 (called “El Grito” in Mexico) that helped spur the native revolt against their Spanish colonial rulers.

DIABLOS, BRONCOS PULL AHEAD IN MEXICAN NORTH

Meanwhile, in the Mexican League’s northern Zona Madero (named after Francisco I. Madero, an early 20th century revolutionary leader and president after whom Saltillo’s ballpark is named), the Mexico City Diablos Rojos and Reynosa Broncos share the lead with identical 12-5 records. The Diablos carried a four-game win streak into Monday’s off-day, while the Broncos have a five-game skein going.

The Diablos have ten players batting .310 or better, led by first baseman Mario Valdez, whose .458 mark over just seven games includes a productive three homers. Newcomer Japhet Amador, last year’s LMB co-Rookie of the Year, is hitting .400 with 16 RBIs in 11 contests. The Red Devils pounded Laguna, 25-9, last Saturday as Valdez went 5-for-5 with six runs and six RBIs.

Reynosa completed a three-game sweep of Monclova with an 8-7 win Sunday as Yurendell de Caster’s seventh-inning RBI double ended up being the game-winner for the Broncos. Reynosa is batting .318 as a team (first baseman Jesse Gutierrez leads the club with a .394 average), while their collective 3.47 ERA is second in the Liga. Pitcher Brian Adams has been merely phenomenal, going 29 innings in four starts without giving up an earned run for a 2-0 record.

FIFTEEN MEXICAN PLAYERS MAKE MLB OPENING DAY ROSTERS

As Major League Baseball begins its regular season this week, 15 players of Mexican descent will be on Opening Day rosters. Ten of them are pitchers.

The list of 15 players includes five who were born in the United States to Mexican parents, including infielders Adrian Gonzalez of San Diego (pictured) and Florida's Jorge Cantu, along with pitchers Sergio Mitre (NY Yankees), Octavio Ojeda (Arizona) and Sergio Romo (San Francisco).
Eight MLB pitchers were born in Mexico: Joakim Soria (Kansas City), Alfredo Aceves (NY Yankees), Yovani Gallardo (Milwaukee), Jorge de la Rosa (Colorado), Oliver Perez (NY Mets), Rodrigo Lopez (Arizona), Jaime Garcia and Dennys Reyes (both St. Louis). Lopez has won a berth in the Diamondbacks starting rotation after attending training camp as a non-roster invitee.

Just two position players hail from Mexico: Ramiro Pena (NY Yankees) and Juan Castro (Philadelphia). Both are slated to be backup infielders for their respective league champion teams. The Yankees have the most Mexicans in the Majors with three players (Aceves, Mitre and Pena).

Pitcher Elmer Dessens from Sonora narrowly missed making the Mets’ roster, and was assigned to Class AAA Buffalo of the International League over the weekend.