Monday, April 25, 2016

Acereros drop two of three to Yucatan, still lead LMB Norte

Despite losing twice in a three-game home series against Yucatan over the weekend, the Monclova Acereros nonetheless still held on to a narrow lead in the Mexican League's North Division going into Monday's travel day on the schedule.

The Leones took it to Monclova, 10-1, Sunday night as Yucatan posted six runs in the top of the first inning and were never threatened afterward.  The loss, in front of 8,640 fans at Estadio Monclova, dropped the Acereros' record to 14-6, one game ahead of second-place Monterrey.  Yucatan kept pace with Quintana Roo in the LMB South, with both teams ending the weekend with 13-7 marks.  The Tigres swept a three-game set against Laguna in Torreon, including another Sunday route, 10-2, over the Vaqueros.  Jorge "Chato" Vazquez (pictured above) had two hits and drove in three runs for the defending champs while Max Ramirez clubbed his first homer of the season.  The Vaqueros have lost six in a row to fall to seventh in the North at 10-10, one game ahead of last-place Saltillo.

Perennial contenders in the North, the Saraperos have been in unfamiliar territory as cellar-dwellers, although a 9-11 record isn't a call for pressing the panic button.  Saltillo has found the going tougher at home, with just a 4-7 record at Estadio Francisco I. Madero while going 5-4 on the road.  Still, they haven't had the kind of problems the Oaxaca Guerreros experienced to start their season.  Oaxaca lost their first eleven games before pulling out a 6-5 win at Saltillo (see above) in ten innings on April 15.  The Guerreros have won four of their last ten games but at 4-16, are still a game behind seventh-place Carmen.

Puebla catcher Cesar Tapia has taken over the lead in the LMB batting race with a .415 average, including 4 homers, in 16 games.  Five players are hitting .400 or better.  Aguascalientes shortstop Diory Hernandez still leads the circuit with 7 homers and 28 RBI while seeing his average cool to an even .400, and Puebla outfielder Nyjer Morgan has 9 stolen bases to top the table in that category.  The ex-MLBer is hitting .327.
Among pitchers, Monterrey starter Edgar Gonzalez is off to a great start with a 3-1 record and 0.77 ERA in four starts.  The former Diamondbacks hurler has gone three starts and 18 innings without giving up an earned run and has walked just two batsmen in 23.1 frames.  Gonzalez leads the Liga in ERA and is tied for the lead in wins with eight other pitchers.  One of those, Monterrey's Josh Lowey (3-1), has 32 strikeouts to share the lead with Tabasco's Antonio Guzman.  Well-traveled minor league vet Wirfin Obispo has 8 saves for Monterrey. The 31-year-old Obispo is in his first LMB season after splitting 2015 between AAA Colorado Springs and AA Biloxi.

All 16 Liga teams will open eight series Tuesday night.  The biggest at this point of the season is in Cancun, where the Tigres will host Puebla in a three-game set.  The 12-8 Pericos are one game behind Quintana Roo and Yucatan in the LMB South.  Monclova is in Mexico City to play three against the 11-9 Diablos Rojos in the most important series in the North.