Friday, January 13, 2017

Mexicali, Mochis win romps, both go up 2 games to 0

The Mexicali Aguilas chased Hermosillo starter Travis Blackley to the showers with an eight-run outburst in the bottom of the third inning en route to a 16-6 manhandling of the Naranjeros at Estadio B'Air Thursday night in their Mexican Pacific League semifinal series.  In the other MexPac Final Four matchup in Los Mochis, a three-run homer from Saul Soto (pictured) served as the centerpiece of the Caneros' seven-run seventh in their 14-2 blowout of Culiacan in Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada.

Both the Aguilas and Caneros now lead their series, 2 games to 0, heading into Friday's Game Three contests in Hermosillo and Culiacan, respectively.

LOS MOCHIS 14-17-1, Culiacan 2-10-2

Soto's homer was one of four Los Mochis longballs served up by three different Tomateros pitchers in the fateful seventh as the Caneros broke open what had been a competitive game.  Mochis scored the first run of the contest on a wild play that began when Phillies farmhand Leandro Castro bunted down the third base line, drawing a hurried throw from Culiacan's Issmael Salas that sailed into right field foul territory, allowing Castro to streak all the way to second.  He kept on going after rightfielder Sebastian Elizalde made a poor relay throw back toward the infield, scampering around third and coming in to score on a play even Ty Cobb would've smiled at in approval.

The Caneros scored twice more in the third to go ahead, 3-0.  Tomateros starter Zack Dodson intentionally walked Isaac Rodriguez to load the bases so he could face MLB vet Lew Ford, who poked a grounder into left field to score Sebastian Valle from third.  Culiacan ended Mochis' shutout bid in the top of the seventh, when reliever Fabian Williamson gave up a Salas homer to left, bringing the visitors to within two runs.  Then came the bottom of the seventh, when Juan Carlos Gamboa (solo), Eugenio Velez (solo), Soto (three-run) and Yosmany Guerra (solo) all homered as the Caneros bashed their way to a 10-1 advantage and the rout was on.  Culiacan did score a run in the eighth when Joey Meneses doubled and came in on Ramiro Pena's single, but Los Mochis put another four on the board to put the Tomateros away.  J.C. Linares stroked a bases-loaded triple to deliver the coup de grace.

The Caneros' 17-hit attack in front of another SRO home crowd of 11,372 should not obsure the standout work of Mochis starter Luis Niebla, who went to 2-0 in the postseason by tossing six innings of shutout ball, scattering five hits and a pair of walks.  Dodson took the loss for Culiacan to fall to 0-2 in the playoffs.  The former Pirates prospect didn't pitch badly (two earned runs in five entradas of work) and was spared from what came next.  The Caneros outscored Culiacan, 19-2, over two games in Los Mochis.

MEXICALI 16-21-0, Hermosillo 6-13-0

Mexicali sent eleven men to the plate in the third inning and put eight runs on the board to take a 9-0 lead and the hits just kept on coming the rest of the game as the Aguilas bombed Hermosillo, 16-6.

Naranjeros starter Travis Blackley was touched for a C.J. Retherford homer run in the bottom of the second as Mexicali took a 1-0 lead.  Blackley was chased in the third after allowing three runs on four hits in the third, including a two-out, two-run single from Xorge Carrrillo off the last pitch the ex-MLBer threw for the night.  Reliever Hector Galvan fared no better, eventually giving up a three-run double to Ramon Rios, who then came in on a Chris Roberson double for the final run of the inning. The toll?  Eight Mexicali runs on six hits, one walk, one hit bastman and two wild pitches.  From that point on, it was only a matter of time.

Mexicali put up three more runs in both the fourth (keyed by a Carrillo two-run double) and fifth (keyed by a Yordanys Linares two-run double) to go up 15-0 before Hermosillo showed their only sign of life by plating six runs in the sixth as Dodgers minor leaguer Julian Leon contributed a pinch-hit two-run homer, but it was academic by that point.  Linares went 4-for-6 for Mexicali while Carrillo had three hits and four RBIs.  Hector Velazquez got the win in his first start for the Aguilas, tossing five shutout innings before being roughed up for five runs in the Hermosillo sixth.  Maybe with a 15-run lead, he let up a little.  Blackley took the loss for his third defeat in as many playoff starts for the Naranjeros this winter.  A sellout crowd of 17,000 witness the onslaught in Mexicali.

In a circuit that historically has been known as a pitcher-friendly league, Thursday night's MexPac semis featured a combined 38 runs on 61 hits.