Sunday, January 22, 2017

Linares, Arballo sparkle as Mochis wins title set opener

J.C. Linares socked a two-run homer to stake Los Mochis starter Julian Arballo (pictured with a good reason to smile) a first-inning lead and the former Yankees prospect went on to toss six innings of shutout ball as the Caneros topped Mexicali, 3-1, Saturday in the opening game of the Mexican Pacific League championship series.  An SRO crowd of 11,132 jammed into the Caneros' venerable Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada, which opened in 1947 as Estadio Mochis.

LOS MOCHIS 3-4-0, Mexicali 1-9-0

After the visiting Aguilas were held scoreless in the top of the first, Mexicali starter Miguel Pena got the first two Mochis outs of the bottom of the frame before walking Lew Ford.  Pena was one strike away from retiring the side when Linares cracked a homer over the wall in left center to put the Caneros up, 2-0.  From that point, Arballo and Pena were locked in a pitcher's duel that lasted through the sixth with no more scoring from either side. A leadoff homer in the bottom of the seventh by Ford off a Pena pitch brought the Mochis lead to three.  After Pena allowed a Linares single next, Mexicali skipper Roberto Vizcarra came to the mound and waved in Edgar Gomez from the bullpen.  Gomez finished the inning without further damage, but the only sign of life the Aguilas would show the rest of the night was a Ramon Rios solo homer in the eighth off Oliver Perez, a reinforcement pickup from Culiacan.  For all intent and purposes, the night belonged to Arballo and the Caneros bullpen as Sergio Romo recorded the final three Mexicali outs in the top of the ninth to end the game and earn the save.

Arballo allowed only six baserunners over his six innings, all on singles with only Xorge Carrillo reaching second base.  The Cal Baptist product struck out six in his 82-pitch outing as five Caneros pitchers combined to whiff ten Mexicali batsmen.  Despite allowing all three Mochis runs on two homers in six innings of work, Pena did not pitch badly.  The left-handed Texan, who spent four years in the Red Sox system, only allowed two other hits, walked one and struck out four.  All Pena was lacking over 78 pitches was luck as his Aguilas teammates actually outhit Mochis, 9-to-4.  Jason Bourgeois (a reinforcement from Hermosillo) and Yuniesky Betancourt each had two hits for Mexicali.  Linares, himself a former Bosox farmhand who was Pena's teammate at Portland in 2013, had two safeties for the Caneros, including the biggest one.

Game Two will be played Sunday night at 5PM MST (0000 UTC) in Los Mochis.  After Monday's travel day, the next three games of the title series are scheduled to be played in Mexicali, all at 7:30PM PST (0330 UTC) in the 17,000-seat Estadio B'Air, or La Nida (The Nest).  The Caneros are looking for their fourth pennant since their first season in 1947.  Their last championship came in 2002-03.  Mexicali has won three flags since their 1976 debut, most recently in 1998-99.  The 1985-86 Aguilas went on to win the Caribbean Series under Salon de la Fama manager Ben "Cananea" Reyes.