|Japhet Amador during happier times in Mexico City|
There was speculation that the LMB would allow Amador to suit up for the Mexico City Diablos Rojos, a flagship franchise who presently holds third place in the South Division with a 22-19 record and a likely postseason qualifier. The Red Devils own Amador's Mexican League rights and billionaire majordomo Alfredo Harp Helu is the Liga's richest owner and a power among his peers. However, last Thursday the LMB office in the nation's capital issued this Google-translated statement (with corrections for grammar only):
The Mexican Baseball League informs that it does not accept the movement by which the Meixco City Diablos Rojos sought the incorporation of Japhet Amador to their roster. This is in support of the Japanese Baseball League (sic), which determined to suspend for six months after finding an adverse result in an anti-doping test for prohibited substances while playing for the Rakuten Golden Eagles team.
Amador tested positive for chlorthalidone and furosemide, according to a report by the Japanese League, chemical substances that are considered prohibited because they conceal the existence in the human body of other substances that improve physical performance.
The LMB promotes fair play and ethics on and off the field. Based on this premise, this decision was made. The league is still waiting for the investigation to end in the case of Japhet Amador.
The last time Amador played in Mexico City was in 2015, when he won MVP honors after batting .346 with 41 homers and 117 RBIs in 103 games. He'd certainly have provided a large boost to the Diablos, who beat Yucatan, 6-5, Sunday night at home on Daniel Jimenez' walkoff single that drove Jesus Fabela in from second with the winner.
The loss dropped Yucatan into second place at 24-18, a half-game behind 24-17 Puebla. The Pericos broke a tie with the Leones at the top of the standings by splitting a doubleheader in Campeche Sunday, losing the opener by a 3-2 count before winning the 4-1 nightcap thanks to Bernardo Heras' three-run homer in the top of the ninth. Leon has lost their last four games and seven of their last ten to fall from the LMB South lead into fourth place at 20-20, three games ahead of 18-24 Campeche in fifth.
The Monclova Acereros have won seven in a row to go to 32-9, best in the Liga and six-and-a-half games ahead of Dos Laredos. The 26-16 Tecolotes are a game up on Monterrey (25-17) while Tijuana (24-17) is right behind in fourth. Aguascalientes is three games out of playoff certainty with a 21-20 mark while Durango, Saltillo and Union Laguna all may as well be looking ahead to 2019.
While none of the upcoming midweek series are particularly compelling (Monclova at Aguascalientes looks the best), a potential dandy next weekend will be when Puebla visits Mexico City for three. The Pericos currently are two games ahead of the Diablos with fifteen games remaining in the regular season.
Yucatan's Leo Heras leads the LMB with a .429 average, 22 points ahead of Oaxaca's Yuniesky Betancourt's .407. Felix Perez of Monterrey is tops with 13 homers, and Puebla's Delmon Young continues to head the RBI list with 48. Tony Campana of Aguascalientes is still best with 19 stolen bases but Dos Laredo's Johnny Brown and Cade Gotta of Monclova are closing the gap with 17 swipes each.
Although the Mexican League is upholding its reputation as a hitter's circuit, five starters have ERA's of 2.03 or lower, four of them under 2.00. Monclova's Andre Rienzo (3-0) continues to head the list at 1.08, well below the 1.67 of veteran Jose Oyervides (also 3-0), who signed as a free agent with Dos Laredos for the Fall season after being released by Monclova following the Spring campaign. Mexico City's Patrick Johnson leads in wins with a perfect 7-0 record, Enrique Oquendo of Puebla's 54 strikeouts over 46 innings leads all pitchers while Monterrey's Wirfin Obispo and Josh Lueke of Monclova have 11 saves apiece.
LORENZO BUNDY SUCCEEDS BENJI GIL AS CULIACAN MANAGER
|Former Culiacan manager Benji Gil in a quieter moment|
The 45-year-old Gil was born in Tijuana and was the first Mexican to be picked in the first round of the MLB draft by Texas. He went on to play all or part of eight Major League seasons between 1993 and 2003 with the Rangers and Angels, batting .237 with 32 homers over 604 games. He was a member of Anaheim's 2002 World Series champions, going 4-for-5 with a double and scoring one run in the Halos' seven-game triumph over San Francisco. Gil spent another eight years playing in the Mexican League for Tijuana, Monterrey and Chihuahua before retiring after spending a partial season with Oaxaca in 2011.
Gil also played 13 winters with Culiacan during his 19-year MexPac career during which he hit .263 with 64 homers in 669 games while winning four pennants and two Caribbean Series with the Tomateros. He first became manager in Culiacan for the 2014-15 season and led the Tomateros to the LMP pennant before getting fired a year later after the club failed to reach the playoffs. Gil was brought back to the Sinaloa city last fall and piloted the Tomateros to another pennant. Although his ability to manage has been largely proven, Gil has also proven to be a volatile sort not averse to challenging his own players in the dugout or making obscene gestures after clinching a title on the road, but his departure from the Tomateros managership is for familial, not temperamental, reasons, His son Mateo was chosen in the third round by St. Louis in the June draft and Benji said during a press conference that he wants to concentrate on Mateo's playing career in the Cardinals organization. The elder Gil will take a consultant position in the Culiacan organization but his resignation two months before the LMP season begins drew consternation among Tomateros fans, who rank among Mexico's most devoted aficianados, as to who would replace him.
Enter Lorenzo Bundy. The Philadelphia native was named as Culiacan's manager within days of Gil's resignation last week. Bundy is no stranger to the MexPac. He was let go in Hermosillo earlier this year after five seasons in his second stint managing the Naranjeros. This winter will be Bundy's 25th season managing an LMP team after playing six years in the loop. He's won pennants in Navojoa, Mazatlan and Hermosillo and won his 700th regular season game last winter, second only to Francisco "Paquin" Estrada's record 856 victories over 27 campaigns. Bundy is currently in his first year managing the Mexican League's Puebla Pericos and has the Parrots leading the LMB South with a 24-17 record. He's also coached in MLB with Colorado, Arizona, Miami and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
ENSENADA WINS SECOND STRAIGHT LIGA NORTE FLAG
|LNM Finals MVP Yousamot Cota of Ensenada|
San Quintin took an early 1-0 lead in Game Six when Mario Cabrera scored on Fernando Inzunza's second-inning single but the Marineros knotted the score at a run apiece two frames later after Ramon Sesteaga's sacrifice fly to center field brought in Uriak Marquez from third. Cota's RBI safety put Ensenada ahead for good in the fifth and a bases-loaded walk to Marquez in a later inning pushed Rodriguez across with an insurance run for the eventual winners. Marineros starter Jesus Yave Estrada pitched one-run ball over five innings to earn the win while Luis Ramirez got the save. Irving Machuca, who gave up the Cota single, was tagged with the loss for San Quintin. Cota, a native of Hermosillo, was named the LNM Finals MVP after going 3-for-4 for Ensenada in Game Six while Italo Mota paced the Freseros attack with a pair of hits.
The pennant is Ensenada's third in the Liga Norte, with the Sailors joining San Luis as the only two teams to never miss the postseason in the circuit's seven season. The Marineros also won the LNM title after the loop was formed in 2012 following a split among teams in the Northern Sonora League, which dated back to 1944. The LNS lasted another three seasons before going on hiatus after the 2014 campaign, a break that stretched into its fourth year in 2018. Current LNM teams in Puerto Penasco and Caborca shifted to the Liga Norte following the LNS shutdown.