Friday, June 23, 2017

Mayora falls one game short of Liga hit streak record

Durango Generales third baseman Daniel Mayora went 0-for-2 in a Tuesday night home game against Leon to see his hitting streak come to an end at 35 games.  Mayora's skein brought him to within one game of tying the Mexican League record of 36 consecutive games with a hit, set in 2000 by third baseman Luis de los Santos of Saltillo and tied by Quintana Roo second sacker Carlos Gastelum in 2012.

Mayora's last hitless game had come on May 5 against Union Laguna during the Generales' first-ever homestand following a month of games on the road to open the season while Estadio Francisco Villa was undergoing renovations needed to host the former Carmen Delfines.  The streak opened one night later when Mayora topped an Enrique Legucha pitch to send a slow roller to third and beat Jaime Pedroza's throw to first for an infield single for his only safety in a 1-for-5 outing.  Not the most auspicious start, perhaps, but from that game forward, Mayora went more than six weeks without being held hitless while seeing his batting average rise from .323 to a .363 mark.  Until Tuesday.

Batting in the cleanup slot, Mayora had no luck against Leon's crafty veteran starter Walter Silva, lining out to right fielder Junior Lake to open the second inning, drawing an inning-opening walk in the fourth and grounding out to third baseman Miguel Torrero to lead off the bottom of the seventh.  Mayora's last chance for a hit came in the ninth with the score tied at 2-2, but had the bat taken out of his hands when Leon reliever Fernando Villalobos intentionally walked him to set up a double play after Henry A. Rodriguez had bunted Daniel Nunez from first to second base.  That strategy became moot two batsmen later when Jairo Perez launched a three-run walkoff homer to give the Generales a 5-2 win.

The versatile Mayora, who can also play second base and shortstop when not manning the hot corner, is in his first Mexican League season but is no rookie.  The 5'11" product of Venezuela, who'll turn 32 next month, is a case study in persistence.  Mayora signed with Colorado as a free agent in 2005 and began his pro career with the Rockies' Casper affiliate in the rookie Pioneer League, hitting .263 with 1 homer.  Mayora spent a total of six season in the Colorado system, reaching as high as AA Tulsa, topping the .300 mark twice while being named to the Northwest League All-Star Team in 2006 and getting a South Atlantic League All-Star Team berth in 2007.

He opted for free agency after the 2010 season and began to bounce around the minors, first by signing on with Tampa Bay and splitting 2011 between Rays affiliates in AA Montgomery and AAA Durham and batting a combined .288 with 9 homers while being tabbed for the Southern League All-Star Game.  Mayora then inked a free agent deal with San Francisco for 2012 and hit .281 at AA Richmond, earning a nod for the Eastern League All-Star Game that year (his fifth such selection in six years).

Even so, the Giants released him the next March and he ended up spending 2013 with Bridgeport of the independent Atlantic League and hit .306 for the Bluefish, earning yet another All-Star Game call. That was enough for the Dodgers to sign him after the season and ship him to AA Chattanooga in 2014, where Mayora posted a .302 average with the Lookouts.  He spent yet another year in AA for the 2015 campaign, this time for the Dodgers' Tulsa farm club, and batted .248 while battling injuries.

Once again, the 5'11" infielder chose free agency after the season but this time signed on with Rimini of the Italian Baseball League for 2016 and hit .311 in 33 games to finish eleventh in the batting race for the Coppa Italia champions.  Mayora has also spent nine seasons with the Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League, batting .281 for the Leones over that span.  His career average at all levels since 2005 is .294 over 1,523 games with 105 homers and 135 stolen bases.

It's been a long and winding road for Daniel Mayora, who's making the most of his first Mexican League campaign.  He appeared in his seventh All-Star Game in six leagues Sunday in Campeche, grounding out to short in his only plate appearance after replacing Tijuana's Alex Liddi at third base in the fifth inning.  He was batting .364 (eighth in the LMB) after going 2-for-3 in Durango's 4-1 win over Leon Wednesday night.