Monday, August 28, 2017

Pitching rules the night in Monterrey, Puebla clutch wins

Puebla closer Deunte Heath receiving high-fives after win
Although the Mexican League has gained a well-earned reputation as a hitter's league over the decades, both of Sunday's division championship series games were most influenced by the men on the mound.  Puebla starter Jaime Lugo scattered five hits over seven shutout innings to lead the Pericos to a 2-1 home win over Yucatan to take a 2-games-to-1 lead in their LMB South title series.  In the LMB North, Monterrey's Edgar Gonzalez combined with two relievers to limit Tijuana to two runs on seven hits in the Sultanes' 4-2 victory against the Toros.  Tijuana still leads that set, 2 games to 1.

Game Four in both series is slated for Monday night.  Yucatan will send Jonathan Castellanos to the mound in Puebla against Pericos starter Andres Meza while in Monterrey, Jorge Reyes will take the hill for the Sultanes against Sergio Mitre and Tijuana.

PUEBLA 2-10-0, Yucatan 1-5-0
W-Heath (1-0).  L-Fr. Rodriguez (1-1).  A-11,812.  T-2:37

Puebla's Jaime Lugo and Yucatan's Jose Samayoa locked up in a pitcher's duel into the seventh inning and the respective bullpens carried it to the end as the Pericos slipped past the Leones, 2-1, on a ninth-inning run Sunday night in Puebla.  A season-high crowd of 11,812 witnessed the proceedings at Estadio Hermanos Serdan in the colonial city.

Lugo and Samayoa swapped zeros until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Pericos catcher (and 2017 LMB batting champ) Cesar Tapia lined a Samayoa delivery over the left field wall for a home run to give Puebla a 1-0 lead.  The Parrots clung to their narrow lead through the seventh, but the Leones tied it up in the top of the eighth when closer Deunte Heath (who was replacing Lugo) was touched for a solo homer to left by Yucatan catcher Sebastian Valle.  Heath settled down to retire the side without any further damage and pitched a scoreless ninth, setting up late heroics by Tapia and Alberto Carreon.

Ex-MLB hurler Francisco Rodriguez took over on the hill for Yucatan in the bottom of the ninth and immediately gave up a leadoff single to Tapia, who then advanced to second when Hector Garanzuay walked. Both runners moved up on Sergio Perez' bunt single and Carreon delivered the game-winning blow by smoking a Rodriguez delivery to left, bringing Tapia across with the walkoff run.

Tapia, Perez and Carreon each had two of Puebla's ten hits while Valle singled and homered for Yucatan. While Lugo pitched seven scoreless innings for the Pericos, allowing three hits and striking out five, the win went to Heath, who blew the save on Valle's homer but otherwise had a creditable two-inning appearance. Samayoa let in one run on five hits and one walk over six frames for the Leones, good enough to win most nights, but Rodriguez was tagged with the loss after giving up three hits, a walk and the game-winning run without retiring a batter in the ninth.

MONTERREY 4-9-0, Tijuana 2-7-1
W-Ed. Gonzalez (1-0).  L-M. Pena.  A-23,176.  T-3:04.

Although the pitching in this game wasn't as dominant as the contest in Puebla, former Arizona hurler Edgar Gonzalez turned in a strong performance Sunday in Monterrey as the Sultanes topped Tijuana, 4-2, in Game Three of their LMB North Division championship series.  The Toros still lead the set, 2-games-to-1, but a throng of 23,176 were in the Estadio Monterrey stands to see the Sultanes bounce back after two losses in the border city.

Gonzalez and Toros starter Miguel Pena were both working on shutouts through the first three innings before Tijuana scored the first run of the night in the top of the fourth when Corey Brown clubbed a Gonzalez serving over the wall in right-center field to put the visitors up, 1-0.  Pena was struck by three bolts of lightning in the bottom of the fourth when he gave up solo roundtrippers to Ramon Rios, Luis Juarez and Daniel Mayora to fall behind, 3-1.  Pena recovered to get the final two outs of the inning, but the wounds would prove mortal with Gonzalez shutting down the potent Bulls.  The Sultanes added an insurance run in the fifth when Rios doubled in Chris Roberson.

The Toros did score once more in the top of the sixth on Roberto Lopez' leadoff homer off Gonzalez, but that would prove to be the last hit of the night for Tijuana as Gonzalez, Nick Struck and Wirfin Obispo would combine to allow just one walk en route to recording the final twelve TJ outs of the contest.  The Toros ended the night with seven hits, but the longballs by Brown (who also singled) and Lopez were the only ones of any significance.  Rios had two doubles and a homer for the Sultanes, scoring twice for the winners, while Juarez and Luis Flores each had a pair of hits.

Gonzales tossed six innings of two-run, seven-hit ball for the win, striking out five in a solid performance while Obispo's scoreless ninth was worth a save.  Pena suffered the loss by allowing all four Monterrey runs on five hits in 4.2 entradas, striking out five and walking one.