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YAQUIS' LOPEZ TOSSES NO-HITTER AGAINST NAVOJOA
Obregon Yaquis left-hander Arturo Lopez tossed the first no-hitter of the Mexican Pacific League season (and 44th in the loop's history) last Saturday night, blanking the visiting Navojoa Mayos, 6-0, in front of 5,421 spectators at Estadio Yaquis. The 39-year-old Lopez struck out eleven Mayos batters, walking one and hitting another in allowing two baserunners en route to the third no-hitter in Obregon history and first ever at Estadio Yaquis.
Lopez got all the offensive support he'd need in the bottom of the first inning when Victor Mendoza's double to left off Navojoa starter Rogelio Martinez brought Josuan Hernandez all the way around from first base. Just in case, the Yaquis plated three more runs off Martinez in the third, two on a Yadir Drake double. A Mendoza seventh-inning single scored the final two runs of the night for the winners.
The 5'9” Lopez, who posted a 19.49 ERA in 2009 for the San Diego Padres over four relief appearances, was hitting the corners all night and threw 70 strikes in 97 pitches as neither Mayo to reach base got into scoring position. A Culiacan native who has represented the Mexico City Diablos Rojos in five Mexican League All-Star Games, Lopez is in his 16th Mex Pac season and has a 60-38 career LMP record and surpassed 600 strikeouts during his no-no.
Despite winning two of three games in the weekend set against the Mayos, the Yaquis remain in a tie for last place with defending champion Jalisco and Monterrey at 9-14, one game behind 10-13 Culiacan. Hermosillo remains in the first half lead at 15-8 but the race has tightened at the top, with 14-9 Mazatlan one game back in second and 13-10 Los Mochis two games out in third. Guasave, Mexicali and Navojoa are knotted up in a tie for fourth at 12-11 each.
There HAS been a change at the top in the Mex Pac batting race, as last week's leader (Ramiro Pena of Culiacan) has dropped to third with a .359 average. Los Mochis' Yosmany Tomas went 2-for-3 against Culiacan Sunday to raise his league-leading mark to .378, 14 points ahead of Monterrey's Alberto Carreon (.364). Anthony Giansanti of Mexicali leads the winter circuit with seven homers, two more than Obregon's Sebastian Valle and Giansanti's Aguilas teammate Niko Vasquez. Christian Villanueva of Jalisco had a good week, going 9-for-24 (.378) and moving into first on the RBI table with 20, two more than the 18 ribbies each from Vasquez and Monterrey's Fernando Perez. Jose Cardona held the stolen base lead with 10 swipes for Hermosillo, ahead of the eight steals of Mazatlan's Randy Romero.
The number of pitchers with three wins has grown to six, with Raul Carrillo (Navojoa), Matt Pobereyko and Jeff Kinley (both Guasave) joining Juan Pablo Oramas (Hermosillo), David Reyes (Mexicali) and Tyler Alexander (Jalisco) for the LMP leadership in that category. Luis Miranda of Los Mochis still leads the ERA race with an 0.00 mark after four starts and 22 innings pitched, ahead of Oramas (1.25) and Gusave's Nico Tellache (1.44). Jalisco veteran Javier Solano, now in his 15th MexPac season, tops the strikeouts list with 30 in 33.2 innings, one more than Lopez of Obregon's 29 and three up on Pobereyko's 27. Brandon Koch of Guasave has edged one save ahead of Mazatlan's Elkin Alcala, 10 to 9 while Mexicali's Jake Sanchez (who set the LMP record with 26 salvados last winter) is third with eight.
With two weeks left in the first half schedule, teams are starting to jockey more for playoff points placement. The biggest upcoming midweek series is probably going to be in Mazatlan, where the Venados host Hermosillo in a battle of the current top two clubs. Next weekend, the most intriguing three-game set may be between perennial power Culiacan and 2021-22 pennant winner Jalisco at Estadio Tomateros with both teams struggling to find their way out of the second division.
THREE LIGA TEAM SEEK, PICK NEW SKIPPERS FOR 2023
With the Mexican League's 2023 season five months away from opening, three LMB teams have been working on filling managerial openings. One of them has been the Monterrey Sultanes, who are seeking to replace former Major League outfielder Roberto Kelly. The former Yankees outfielder led the Grey Ghosts to an LMB North playoff title and a berth in the 2022 Serie del Rey before falling to the Yucatan Leones after finishing fourth with in the regular season with a 51-39 record.
Kelly, who'd returned to the Sultanes this year after taking the 2021 season off, has been named to the Texas Rangers coaching staff under new manager Bruce Bochy. Kelly was a manager in the Giants system before joining Bochy's staff as first base coach when the latter managed San Francisco to three World Series titles between 2010 and 2014. The Panamanian first came to Monterrey in 2018 and led the Sultanes to their tenth pennant in the shortened Fall 2018 season, beating Yucatan in the Serie del Rey and being named Manager of the Year.
Another ex-MLBer, Geronimo Gil, will manage the Oaxaca Guerreros next year. Gil made his Mexican League debut in 1993 as a 17-year-old catcher and went on to spend all or part of six seasons with Baltimore and Colorado between 2001 and 2007, hitting 12 homers and driving in 45 runs as the Orioles' starting receiver in 2002. After wrapping up his 23-year professional career in 2016, he coached for Oaxaca for one year, managed Ensenada to the Liga Norte pennant in 2018 and then spent 2019 managing Yucatan in 2019. The 47-year-old Oaxacan took the Leones to a 66-52 season record and a playoff run that ended with a seven-game loss to Monclova in that year's Serie del Rey.
Gil has also spent time as an instructor at the Alfredo Harp Helu Academy in Oaxaca and managed in the LMB Prospect League. He's currently at the helm of the combined Mexico City-Oaxaca team in the Mexican Winter League. Both the Diablos Rojos and Guerreros francises are owned by Harp, one of Mexico's richest men. Gil will replace another former catcher, Erick Rodriguez, at the helm of the Guerreros, who finished 34-53 in seventh place in the LMB South, six games out of the division's last playoff berth.
Finally, the Saltillo Saraperos have let Adan Munoz go as pilot and hired Mark Weidemeier as their new manager following a 38-52 campaign this year. Munoz stepped in at the helm in Saltillo after Roberto Vizcarra resigned as manager to take over in Yucatan, leading the Leones to the LMB pennant. Weidemeier also managed in the Mexican League in 2022, albeit in abbreviated fashion. A first-time skipper for Dos Laredos, he led the Tecolotes to seven wins in their first ten games before leaving the border team for what the club termed “personal reasons.”
Although he never played professionally, Weidemeier is a baseball lifer who got his first paying job out of college in 1982 when the Kansas City Royals hired him as a minor league coach. Since then, he's worked for numerous MLB organizations including the Angels, Yankees, Indians, White Sox, Dodgers and Diamondbacks. He coached under Matt Williams with both the MLB Nationals and Korea's KIA Tigers. Weidemeier has spent much time in Mexico as well, including managerial stints in Laguna and Veracruz, where he first worked for Tecos owner Jose Antonio Mansur, who has owned (and moved) several LMB teams over the years. One of Weidemeier's Tecos players, first baseman Kennys Vargas, told the Laredo Morning Times during training camp that “Players love him a lot because he is a fun manager. He tries to transfer all the experience he has onto us.”
MEX PAC SERIES IN TUCSON CANCELED
Just weeks after it was first announced to the public, a three-game series between the Mexicali Aguilas and Obregon Yaquis slated to be played next week in Tucson has been called off. It would have marked the first time that Mexican Pacific League regular season games would be played north of the border. Instead, the Tucson series was canceled due to what the LMP office called “contractual reasons” and moved back to Obregon, the original venue of the three-game series on the league schedule.
The contests were scheduled for Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13 at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, former spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox as well as a pair of since-moved Pacific Coast League franchises. The 11,500-seat facility is now the flagship ballpark for the annual Mexican Baseball Fiesta involving MexPac teams in October and also the home facility for the Tucson Saguaros, winners of three pennants over seven seasons in the independent Pecos League, which boasts 16 teams in six states stretching from California to Kansas.
The following is a translated press release from the Mexican Pacific League and first posted on their website Sunday, four days before the first game in Tucson was to have been played:
Guadalajara, Jalisco; November 7, 2022 (LMP Media) - We regret to have to inform that, for contractual reasons, the decision has been made to definitively suspend the series between Águilas de Mexicali and Yaquis de Obregón, which would have taken place in the city of Tucson, Arizona on November 11, 12 and 13 of this year.
This commitment will be made on the same dates, but at the Yaquis Stadium as originally scheduled, leaving for next season the possibility of playing in North American territory.
We apologize on behalf of the teams for any inconvenience this may represent for our fans.
We are convinced that the internationalization of the LMP is of paramount importance for our future growth. However, this first attempt could not be realized in a favorable way for the parties involved.
We will continue working so that from next season this and other activities can be carried out.
We appreciate your understanding.
The Tucson Saguaros have released their 2023 Pecos League schedule, starting with a May 31 game in Austin and a June 8 home opener against Roswell at Kino Stadium.