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.