Monday, June 26, 2017

Monclova's Borbon has six hits in 21-9 win over Campeche

Monclova outfielder Julio Borbon
Former major league outfielder Julio Borbon tied a Mexican League record Friday night by stroking six hits during the Monclova Acereros' 21-9 drubbing of the Campeche Piratas in front of 5,860 fans at Estadio Monclova.  The record of six hits in a nine-inning game was set in 1937 by Veracruz Rojos Aguilas Hall of Famer Martin Dihigo and had been tied 41 times before Borbon's outburst.  Saltillo's Bernardo Lopez and Cuban star Alfredo Despaigne of Campeche each had six-hit games in 2013, the last season the record was matched.

The 31-year-old Borbon had five singles and a double to key Monclova's 25-hit attack as the Acereros scored at least one run in each of the eight innings they sent batters to the plate.  Campeche actually led 7-4 until the bottom of the third, when the Steelers pushed five runs across the plate (with Borbon singling, but being called out at home after trying to score from first on Jose Felix' bases-loaded single).  Borbon, who also drove in five runs in the rout, saw his batting average jump from .324 to .345 in his fiftieth game of the campaign.  The former Rangers starter had plenty of help, as Amadeo Zazueta had four hits (including a two-run homer) and Matt Clark belted his 15th homer and singled twice as every Acereros batter except leadoff batter Willy Taveras had at least one hit and one run each.

Campeche didn't fare poorly at the plate themselves, gathering 15 hits on the night (three apiece for Yosmany Guerra, Oscar Williams and Engel Beltre), but Piratas starting pitcher Jorge Castillo coughed up seven runs on seven hits (including three homers) before being yanked with one out in the third and things didn't get much better for relievers.  The marathon lasted 4 hours, 31 minutes as the 7:30PM contest didn't conclude until a minute past midnight.  One night later, venerable hurler Francisco Campos recorded his first win of 2017 as Campeche defeated Monclova, 4-3.  Campos, who started the All-Star Game for the LMB South, gave the Pirates six strong innings by allowing one run and striking out four Acereros batsmen to go to 1-3 on the season and 192-138 for his 23-year Liga career.  His ERA is a solid 3.19 over seven starts bracketed around an injury that kept him off the mound from April 8 to May 24.

The Acereros dropped Sunday's game as well to fall to 41-30 in the LMB North Standings.  Monclova is in third place, looking up at 47-23 Monterrey and 46-25 Tijuana and casting a wary eye on the Aguascalientes Rieleros, sitting a game-and-a-half back in fourth at 40-32.  Union Laguna (38-34) had a tough week, losing home series to both defending champ Puebla and LMB South cellar-dwelling Leon.  Vaqueros fans appear to be reacting to the team's virtual giveaway of MVP candidate Ricky Alvarez to Yucatan by staying away from Estadio Revolucion.  Laguna had been averaging over 5,000 per opening prior to last week's player swap orchestrated by brothers Erick and Juan Jose Arellano (who own both clubs), but attendance totalled 13,660 over their six-game homestand for an average of 2,277.  Perhaps fans in Torreon and Gomez Palacio don't think much of their playoff-contending team being used as a feeder for the LMB South-leading Leones?

Yucatan was doing pretty well before Alvarez arrived, thank you, and their three-game weekend home sweep over Saltillo pushed their record to 44-24, opening their division lead to ten-and-a-half games over 35-36 Puebla.  The Leones have won seven of their past ten games, the only team in the South with a winning record over that same timespan.  Alvarez has been slow to adjust to his new surroundings, going just 5-for-23 (.217) with one RBI for his first six games in Lions' togs.  Quintana Roo (32-33) and Veracruz (31-39) currently hold the final two playoff positions ahead of Oaxaca (30-39) and Campeche (29-40).  The rules state that four LMB South teams will play in the postseason, but that doesn't mean they'll all deserve it.

Yadier Drake of Durango didn't have the most memorable week, going 4-for-16 in four games and seeing his average fall ten points to .385, but he's still the leader in the LMB batting derby ahead of Monterrey's Chris Roberson (.383).  The latter had a three-hit game Saturday against Tabasco en route to a 6-for-24 week over six games after the All-Star Break.  Jesus "Cacao" Valdez of Yucatan is third with a .375 mark.  Tijuana's Corey Brown cracked a two-run homer at Oaxaca last Tuesday to bring his season total to an Liga-leading 18, two more than teammate Alex Liddi's 16.  Monclova's Clark is tied for third with Jesse Castillo of Aguascalientes and Saltillo's Rainel Rosario with 15 apiece.  A ten-year minor league vet (mostly in the Cardinals and Red Sox systems), Rosario has already set a career record for homers and has 60 RBIs in 69 games for the last-place Saraperos.  Alvarez' 76 RBIs are still enough for the lead in that category, with Brown and Monclova's Manny Rodriguez tied for second at 65 apiece.  Saltillo gardener Justin Greene has gone two weeks without a stolen base, but Greene's 34 swipes are comfortably ahead of the 23 of Mexico City's Carlos Figueroa.  At 5'8" and 220 pounds, Figueroa doesn't conjure the classic image of a speedster, but some cronistas in Mexico consider him the LMB's fastest baserunner.

Veracruz starter Nestor Molina's dream season continues after the vet righty beat both Mexico City and Tijuana last week, allowing one run over 16 innings to raise his record to 9-1 (tied with  ) while lowering his ERA to a Liga-best 1.57.  Molina gave up one earned run in Sunday's win over the Toros, the first time he'd allowed one since May 28.  Oaxaca pitcher Irwin Delgado (9-2) is tied with Molina for wins and is second with a 2.16 ERA.  Delgado had won five straight starts before a no-decision against Tijuana last Wednesday, and his 83 strikeouts are second in the league only to Monclova's Josh Lowey's 93 K's.  Lowey has struck out 36 batters in 25 innings over his last four starts, going 2-1 in the process.  With a 3.83 ERA, the former Mercer University hurler hasn't been as dominant as he was in 2016 before going to South Korea, but three of those four outings would be considered quality starts as he appears to be regaining his past form.  Durango's Tiago da Silva continues to lead the LMB with 20 saves to augment his 1.84 ERA, but the Generales were dealt a blow when the Brazilian went down with a shoulder injury after appearing in a June 11 game against Tijuana.  A post last Thursday on the Generales' Facebook page says da Silva (who'd converted 20 of 21 save opportunities) will likely be out a couple more weeks.

Looking ahead to the coming week, there are no compelling midweek series on the Mexican League schedule but there are a couple weekend sets that have possibilities.  Tijuana will be in Aguascalientes, where they'll take on a competitive Rieleros team that shouldn't be overlooked.  The Toros had a six-game win streak (five on the road) snapped in Veracruz Sunday.  In the LMB South, Yucatan will visit Puebla for three games hoping to extend their lead over the Pericos in the standings.