Monday, July 19, 2010

DIABLOS, CAMPECHE CLINCH SECOND-HALF TITLES; PLAYOFFS BEGIN TUESDAY

The Mexico City Diablos Rojos and Campeche Piratas held off their challengers to win second-half titles in the Mexican League Zonas Madero and Hidalgo, respectively. Both Mexico City and Campeche picked up eight points for winning the second-half divisional titles.

Overall, the Diablos finished with a two-half total of 14.5 points and are the top seed in the Zona Madero while first-half champion Monterrey is second with 13.5 points. Chihuahua, Saltillo and Reynosa all tied for third at 12.0 points. The Dorados (.551) and Saraperos (.528) gained the final two playoff berths by having a better won-lost percentage for the season than the Broncos (.523). Saltillo will open the playoffs tomorrow in Mexico City while Chihuahua visits Monterrey.

In the Zona Hidalgo, first-half titlist Puebla (14.5 points) earned the top seed while Oaxaca is number two (14.0) and Quintana Roo (12.5) is third. However, despite their second-half flag and more cumulative points, Campeche (12.5) was squeezed out of the fourth playoff berth by Yucatan (11.5) because the 54-50 Leones had a better season record than the 52-50 Piratas. Thus, Yucatan will open in Puebla, Oaxaca will host Quintana Roo, and Campeche will be on the sidelines watching.


Go figure.

CRAMER FINISHES FIRST IN FIVE PITCHING CATEGORIES

In a league known primarily for its hitters, Quintana Roo import pitcher Bobby Cramer had a year to remember.
Cramer, a 30-year-old lefty from Anaheim, California who bounced around the minors since being drafted in the 38th round by Seattle in 2001, ended the regular season for the Tigres by leading the Mexican League in five pitching categories: Wins, complete games, shutouts, strikeouts and WHIP. Cramer went 13-3 with a 2.95 ERA, 5 complete games, 3 shutouts, 123 strikeouts and just 27 walks in 128 innings with a 1.12 WHIP. Chihuahua’s Mac Suzuki won the ERA title with a 2.89 mark while Puebla closer Luis Ramirez finished with 30 saves.

Among LMB hitters, Puebla’s Willis Otanez (who has missed the last two weeks after being struck on his right foot with a pitch) won the batting title with a .393 average, beating out Yucatan’s Sandy Madera, who finished at .383. Veracruz’ Victor Diaz led the Liga with 29 homers and 96 RBIs and Laguna’s Alexis Gomez won the stolen bases title by a comfortable margin with 37 swipes.

GUNFIRE HALTS GAME IN REYNOSA, CONTEST FINISHED IN MONTERREY

Despite ongoing battles between law enforcement officers and drug cartel members in northern Mexico this year, the conflict had not directly affected a Mexican League game until last weekend.

The Reynosa Broncos were hosting the Monterrey Sultanes in a Zona Madero matchup on Sunday, July 11, and the Broncos were batting with a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when gunfire outside Parque dolfo Lopez Mateos broke out after an RBI single by Reynosa’s Domingo Castro off Sultanes reliever Pablo Menchaca. Everyone on the field as well as the crowd of 1,638 instinctively ducked or sought cover and nobody was injured. Plate umpire Jaime Gutierrez then suspended the game.

The game was resumed in Monterrey last Friday as Reynosa went on to a 4-0 win.

A-GON GOES 0-FOR-2 IN MAJOR LEAGUE ALL-STAR GAME

The National League ended a losing streak dating to 1996 with a 3-1 win over the American League in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game last Tuesday in Anaheim, but San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez went hitless in two at-bats for the winners. Gonzalez replaced Albert Pujols at first base in the fourth inning. Boston’s Jon Lester got Gonzalez to ground out in the sixth inning and Tampa Bay’s Rafael Soriano induced a fly out in the eighth.

Two other Mexicanos, pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Joakim Soria, did not get into the game. Gallardo, a Milwaukee starter, was injured and unable to pitch for the NL. Soria, who leads the AL in saves with 25 for Kansas City, was in the bullpen if needed but was not called upon.