|Tijuana Toros pitcher Hector Ambriz|
While the Toros have been a middle-of-the-pack offensive team thus far in the LMB's Fall season, the pitching staff has been solid, turning in a 3.04 ERA over Tijuana's 14-4 start to trail only North co-leader Monclova's 2.83 mark among the Liga's 16 teams. It's been a true staff effort, as the highest-ranking Toros starterer among ERA leaders is 0-1 Hector Ambriz, a former MLBer who's 20th at 3.38 after three starts. Former MLBer Tom Wilhelmsen leads the squad with five saves in eight outing, although his own 3.86 ERA is a bit higher than the rest of the team. Wilhelmsen hasn't pitched since earning a save against Spring champ Yucatan in Merida on Sunday, July 15 after joining the team just before the opening of the MXL's second season, but is still listed on the Toros' active roster. For his part, Moskos has been unscored upon in 10.1 innings over 11 appearances while fellow reliever Jesus Pirela has a 1.74 ERA out of the bullpen. Centerfielder Justin Greene's .411 average is fifth in the league batting race and leftfielder Junior Lake, a newcomer who came from Leon in exchange for reliever Cesar Carrillo on July 10, is among the circuit's leaders with 16 runs over 16 games despite a .220 average.
Meanwhile, in the LMB South, Lake's former Bravos teammates have won six in a row to surge into the division lead with a 10-6 record, one game up on equally-surprising Campeche (10-8). There'll be a guest story below on Leon's comeback win over Union Laguna Sunday, but skipper Luis Rivera's men moved up the ladder by virtue of home series sweeps over Durango and the Algodoneros last week while last Monday's leader Oaxaca fell to the mythical BBM curse by being swept in road sets at Monterrey and Tijuana after being our headline story (the pressure no doubt got to the Guerreros).
The Bravos have shown a nice balance between batting and pitching thus far. Centerfielder Eduardo Arredondo is batting .396 to rank eighth in the batting derby and Felix Pie, a former MLB outfielder, has a .317 average, but Leon is fourth (.296) in the MXL through a team effort at the plate. Starter Dustin Crenshaw, who went from Laguna to Quintana Roo before arriving in Leon in March after being released by the Tigres, leads the mound staff with a 2.55 ERA to augment his 2-0 record. Recent arrival Joe Colon, who pitched for Cleveland's 2016 American League champions, has yet to allow a run in eight outings and has four saves to show for it since coming to the Guanajuato team on July 5.
Quintana Roo third baseman Brian Hernandez leads the LMB with a .452 average, Monclova's Cesar Tapia is tops with seven homers after knocking out a longball Sunday against Campeche, Eric Aguilera of Union Laguna has 22 RBIs to lead Felix Perez (Aguascalientes) and Ricardo Serrano (Yucatan) by one and Perez' Rieleros mate Tony Campana heads the stolen bases list with ten. Josh Lowey (Monclova) has been joined by Acereros reliever Carlos Fisher, Tiago da Silva (Durango) and Edgar Gonzalez (Monterrey) as three-game winners. Another Monclova hurler, Andre Rienzo, has an Liga-best 0.49 ERA in four starts, Puebla's Enrique Oquendo has the most strikeouts with 28 in 20.2 innings and Wirfin Obispo of Monterrey has eight saves to top that list.
The biggest midweek series of the MXL will commence Tuesday when Monterrey (11-7) visits Monclova (14-4), followed by a big one between the Acereros and Tijuana (14-4) at Estadio Monclova next Friday through Sunday.
GUEST GAME STORY: LEON TAKES 10-8 WIN OVER LAGUNA
Bob Broughton is a Canadian expat now living in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. Bob is a baseball nut who oversees the CourtesyRunner.com website, which is primarily devoted to NAIA college baseball but also has included stories on the Caribbean Series and his adopted Mexican League team, the Leon Bravos. It's a good, lively site worth looking at. The following is his writeup of Sunday's exciting 10-8 Bravos win over visiting Union Laguna in which Leon maintained first place in the LMB South: