Monday, April 11, 2016

Five Liga teams go 6-2 for first week of season, Oaxaca out the gate at 0-8

The Mexican League's 2016 season got into full swing last week after home-and-away series marked Opening Weekend, and no less than five teams are off to 6-and-2 starts.  In the LMB North, Monclova and Monterrey are tied for the division lead while Yucatan, Campeche and defending champion Quintana Roo are atop the LMB South standings.

Both Campeche and Quintana Roo are riding five-game win streaks going into Monday's travel day.  The Piratas took a 3-2 win at Veracruz Sunday as a double by shortstop Paul Leon (pictured) in the top of the ninth inning drove in C.J. Retherford with what proved to be the game-winning run.  Leon also homered and finished the game with three hits to raise his team-leading average to .448.  The Tigres completed a three-game sweep of the Guerreros in Oaxaca with a convincing 8-2 win Sunday as first baseman  Jorge Vazquez homered twice and singled to drive in four runs.  Oaxaca starter Ruddy Acosta only last 1.2 innings, giving up five runs on nine hits to drop to 0-2 for the young season.

Monclova extended their own win skein to four in a row Sunday by scoring eight runs in the bottom of the sixth frame to wipe out a three-run deficit in their 11-5 comeback win over Mexico City.  Jose Amador and Denis Phipps combined to drive in five runs for the Acereros as Amador cracked his second homer of the campaign during Monclova's outburst in the sixth.  The win came despite an outpouring of 17 hits by the visiting Diablos Rojos, including three for 21-year-old second sacker Samar Leyva, but the Red Devils left 13 runners on base after batting 4-for-18 with runners in scoring position.

Monterrey outfielder Felix Perez is the early leader in the Mexican League batting race on an 18-for-33 performance for a .545 average, Tigres teammates Alex Liddi and Esteban Quiroz are tied for the lead in homers with four apiece while Liddi tops the loop with 16 RBIs (Liddi has also struck out 14 times in 35 at-bats thus far).  Puebla's Nyjer Morgan is tied with Irving Falu of Oaxaca for the stolen bases lead with 4 apiece.

Seven pitchers already have two wins against no losses, with Carmen's Mario Gonzalez the most effective of the bunch after throwing 12 shutout innings and allowing just 7 hits over his two starts.  Veracruz' Maneul Al Flores has been almost as good, giving up just four hits and no runs over 11 frames, but has only two no-decisions to show for it.  Antonio Guzman has 18 strikeouts in 12 entradas for Tabasco to top the K category while Campeche's Jose de la Torre has earned four saves in five outings to lead the circuit.

Attendance leaguewide has unsurprisingly dropped off after Opening Weekend but Monterrey is still looking strong after 25,845 fanaticos attended Sunday's 7-5 win over Saltillo home.  In three openings, the Sultanes are averaging 23,430. Yesterday's loss to the Tigres ended a miserable week at the gate in Oaxaca, where just 2,708 spectators per game attended seven Guerreros home games at Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos.

LMB NORTH STANDINGS: Monclova 6-2, Monterrey 6-2, Aguascalientes 5-3, Laguna 5-3, Reynosa 3-5, Saltillo 3-5, Mexico City 2-6, Tijuana 2-6.
LMB SOUTH STANDINGS: Campeche 6-2, Quintana Roo 6-2, Yucatan 6-2, Veracruz 5-3, Puebla 4-4, Carmen 3-5, Tabasco 2-6, Oaxaca 0-8.