Thursday, February 9, 2017

2017 Caribbean Series in review

Now that the Caribbean Series is over and the dust is settling, it's time to take a look back at the seven-day event in Culiacan, Sinaloa, where attendance was the highest among the past 14 editions of the CS, regarded as the Crown Jewel of Latin Baseball.

Although the Mexicali Aguilas fell short in their 1-0 title game loss to Puerto Rico's Caguas Criollos, the MexPac champions placed five members on the CS All-Star Team (as voted on by media members), including all three outfield positions.  Gardeners Jason Bourgois, Chris Roberson and Ronnier Mustelier were joined by catcher Sebastian Valle and relief pitcher Jake Sanchez on the squad, as was Aguilas manager Roberto Vizcarra.  Caguas third baseman David Vidal was named Most Valuable Player after batting .417 with 3 homers and 5 RBIs in 26 at-bats.  Granma right-hander Lazaro Blanco was named top pitcher after going 1-1 with a 0.68 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 13.1 innings over two starts.  Former MLB starter Joel Pineiro, who was 104-93 for four teams between 2000 and 2011, threw a scoreless inning for Caguas against Granma on February 3.  The 38-year-old Pineiro was a member of Puerto Rico's last CS champion, Santurce, in 2000.

Caguas' Ivan De Jesus, Jr led CS batters with a .500 average, going 11-of-22 at the plate.  Vidal led in homers with 3 and tied with Granma's Carlos Benitez and Jose Castillo of Zuila in RBIs with 5 each.  Castillo's Zulia teammate, Freddy Galvis, led in stolen bases with 3.  Among pitchers, nobody had more than one win.  Mexicali's Hector Daniel Rodriguez was unscored upon in 9 innings over one start and one relief apearance while Vladimir Banos of Cuba allowed no runs in his 8 2/3 innings against Mexicali.  Blanco was tied by Hector Velazquez of Mexicali with 11 strikeouts while LMP Reliever of the Year Sanchez led with two saves.

Tournament organizers in Culiacan have to be happy with the attendance figures, as 131,432 fans clicked the turnstiles at Estadio Tomateros to set a modern record, even after the initial crowd total of more than 24,000 announced for Friday in the 19,177-seat ballpark was subsequently revised down to capacity level (phone call from the fire marshal, posiblimente?).  With some columnists speculating about the future of the Caribbean Series due to economic crises in Puerto Rico and Venezuela (site of next year's CS) and the uncertain status of Cuba, which is not a host nation, the event has been very popular in Mexico, where four of the past five tournaments that topped 100,000 in accrued attendance were in Mexico.  Not everyone was thrilled with the ticket situation, however.  Mexicali closer Sanchez complained during the week that ducats allotted to players for friends and family were to seats located in the left field bleachers.

Wednesday, February 1  (Attendance 19,177)
GM 1   Granma (CU) 4-7-2, ZULIA (VZ) 0-7-2
Lazaro Blanco and Livan Moinelo combine for seven-hit shutout
GM 2   MEXICALI (MX) 4-10-0, Caguas (PR) 2-5-2
Hector Daniel Rodriguez carries no-hitter into 5th; Chris Roberson homers

Thursday, February 2  (Attendance 19,177)
GM 3   Zulia (VZ) 4-8-0, CAGUAS (PR) 3-9-2
Jesus Flores' 2-run homer caps 3-run Zulia second; Omar Bencomo goes 5 frames for win
GM 4   MEXICALI (MX) 7-15-2, Licey (DR) 2-6-1
Chris Roberson has 4 hits and scores twice; Jason Bourgeois triples twice for 2 RBIs

Friday, February 3  (Attendance 19,177)
GM 5   GRANMA (CU) 6-12-0, Caguas (PR) 1-8-1
William Saavedra hits two singles and 2-run homer; Vladimir Garcia allows 1 run in 5 innings
GM 6  MEXICALI 5-8-1, Zulia (VZ) 1-7-2
Sebastian Valle belts walkoff grand slam; Barry Enright lets in 1 run on 1 hit in 5 frames

Saturday, February 4  (Attendance 14,973)
GM 7   CAGUAS (PR) 10-11-0, Licey (DR) 2-5-2
Rusney Castillo socks 2-run HR in first; Ivan De Jesus 3 hits, 3 runs, 2 RBIs
GM 8   ZULIA (VZ) 8-15-0, Granma (CU) 3-10-2
Freddy Galvis and Ronny Cedeno combined for 6 hits, 3 runs and 3 RBIs

Sunday, February 5  (Attendance 19,177)
GM 9   ZULIA (VZ) 4-7-2, Licey (DR) 3-8-0
Ronny Cedeno's RBI double, Rene Reyes' 2-run HR in 8th put Caguas ahead for good
GM 10   GRANMA (CU) 4-11-0, Mexicali (MX) 0-6-0
Vladimir Banos pitches 8.2 shutout innings; Alfredo Despaigne cracks 3-run HR

Monday, February 6  (Attendance 19,177)
SF 1   Caguas (PR) 9-11-0, Zulia (VZ) 6-16-1
David Vidal hits 3rd CS homer; Rusney Castillo collects 3 hits, 2 RBIs
SF 2   MEXICALI (MX) 1-5-0, Granma (CU) 0-2-1
Miguel Pena, Hector Daniel Rodriguez and Jake Sanchez combine on 2-hit shutout

Tuesday, February 7  (Attendance 20,454)
FINAL Caguas 1-7-1, MEXICALI 0-4-1 (10)
Yadiel Rivera doubles, scores go-ahead run in 10th; Miguel Mejia 2 IP, 0 R in relief for win

1B - William Saavedra, Granma (Cuba)
2B - Carlos Benitez, Granma (Cuba)
3B - David Vidal, Caguas (Puerto Rico)
SS - Freddy Galviz, Zulia (Venezuela)
LF - Jason Bourgeois, Mexicali (Mexico)
CF - Chris Roberson, Mexicali (Mexico)
RF - Ronnier Mustelier, Mexicali (Mexico)
C -  Sebastian Valle, Mexicali (Mexico)
DH - Ivan De Jesus, Caguas (Puerto Rico)
SP - Lazaro Blanco, Granma (Cuba)
RP- Jake Sanchez, Mexicali (Mexico)
MGR -  Roberto Vizcarra, Mexicali (Mexico)
MVP - David Vidal, Caguas (Puerto Rico)

2004    90,000* Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
2005  102,000* Mazatlan, Mexico
2006    86,103* Maracay/Valencia, Venezuela
2007    28,583* Carolina, Puerto Rico
2008    90,000* Santiago, Dominican Republic
2009  101,500* Mexicali, Mexico
2010    71,405* Isla Margarita, Veracruz
2011    42,500* Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
2012    30,000* Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
2013  112,000* Hermosillo, Mexico
2014  113,517   Isla Margarita, Venezuela
2015  112,000   San Juan, Puerto Rico
2016    24,319   Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
2017  131,432   Culiacan, Mexico
2018     TBD      Barquisimeto, Venezuela
*-Six-day event from 2004 through 2013