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NARANJEROS HOLD FIRST, YAQUS MOVE UP
It seems like the Hermosillo Naranjeros have led the Mexican Pacific League standings most weeks in both halves of the current season and this week is no exception, but the Obregon Yaquis have started to move up in the second-half tables and now trail the Orangemen with just two weeks left in the regular season.
Despite losing a 3-2 decision at Guasave Sunday after shutting out the Algodoneros twice in a Saturday doubleheader, Hermosillo has a one-game lead over Obregon with a 13-5 mark while the Yaquis are right behind at 12-6. Saturday was a pitcher's dream for the Naranjeros as Wilmer Rios went all seven innings in a 5-0 win, scattering six hits anstriking out six Cottoneers batters as Luis Alfonso Cruz went 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI to pace the offense. Then it was Jose Samayoa and two relievers who allowed just two singles in a seven-inning 2-0 whitewash for the nightcap with Isaac Paredes socking a solo homer in the sixth for the winners.
Guasave avoided the sweep Sunday thanks to a Ramon Ramirez walkoff single up the middle in the bottom of the ninth off reliever Cesar Vargas that scored pinch-runner Ciro Norazgary from with the game-winning run. Although he didn't the the win, it was Algodoneros starter Gino Encina's turn to shine on the hill with seven scoreless innings on two hits and seven strikeouts.
Meanwhile over the weekend, Obregon swept three games in Navojoa and likewise shut out the Mayos in the first two games. Friday's result was an 8-0 blanking with starter Dallas Martinez and four relievers combining on an 8-hitter. Yordanys Linares doubled twice and tripled to score two runs and drive in two more for the Yaquis. Saturday was more of the same with Obregon taking a shutout with as Arturo Lopez tossed a two-hitter over five innings and Carlos Sepulveda was 3-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and an RBI.
Obregon broke out the brooms in Sunday's 3-2 win but they had to wait until the top of the ninth to start sweeping after Victor Mendoza and Jose Carlos Urena led off the frame with back-to-back homers, erasing a 2-1 deficit. Samuel Zazueta then retired the Navojoa side to nail down the win. Fans had lots of room to take in the action as fewer than 10,000 watched the three contests at Estadio Francisco Carranza Limon, with two games attracting fewer than 3,000 spectators.
In all, it was a pitcher's showcase in games on Friday and Saturday nights, with with nine of the ten games played ending in shutouts, unusual even for the Mex Pac. The bats woke up Sunday with nobody being kept off the scoreboard as 36 runs were scored over the five games. Not exactly Murderer's Row stuff, but not exactly Hitless Wonders material either.
Los Mochis finished the weekend in third place with an 11-7 second-half record after dropping two of three to Culiacan, one game ahead of 10-8 Mexicali, who took two of three over defending champion Jalisco (who scored four runs in the series). It then becomes a logjam for the final six slots on the table, as 8-10 Mazatlan and Culiacan are just a game ahead of four teams with identical 7-11 records: Guasave, Jalisco, Monterrey and Navojoa.
All four clubs tied for seventh finished at the bottom of the standings in the first half and need to start making a move to avoid missing the eight-team playoffs next month. Defending champ Jalisco and Culiacan, who've won four titles in six years under skipper Benji Gil, are tied for the worst overall record in the circuit at 22-31 each.
Monterrey's Roberto Valenzuela still leads the batting race with a .350 average but things are tightening up as Los Mochis' Justin Dean is now only ten points back at .340 while his Caneros teammate Yosmany Tomas is third with a .325 mark. No real changes in the home run derby as Jesse Castillo (Guasave) and Anthony Giansanti (Mexicali) are tied at the top with 10 dingers each while Sebastian Valle (Obregon) ad Niko Vasquez (Mexicali) are tied for third at eight apiece. Victor Mendoza (Obregon) leads in RBIs with 43, ahead of Los Mochis' Tomas' 41 and Yadir Drake of Obregon with 39. Randy Romero of Mazatlan has reached 20 stolen bases for the season, Hermosillo's Jose Cardona is second with 17 swipes and three other players are tied for third with 14 each.
With his shutout win Saturday over Guasave (assuming the LMP awards him a shutout by holding the Algodoneros scoreless over the league-allotted seven innings, unlike MLB refusing to recognize its own rules in denying Madison Bumgarner a no-hitter in 2020 because he didn't pitch an extra two innings that Rob Manfred ruled weren't required), Wilmer Rios of Hermosillo became the Mex Pac's first seven-game winner this winter. Mexicali's David Reyes and Juan Tellez of Mazatlan are tied for second with six win apiece. Los Mochis' Luis Miranda allowed six earned runs over his last two starts after letting in one over his first eight outings but still has a 1.15 ERA for the season, well below the 1.89 of Juan Pablo Oramas (Hermosillo) and 1.90 of Manny Barreda (Culiacan).
Barreda's 60 strikeouts lead the lead, with Luis Payan's 55 for Navojoa and Matt Pobereyko's 53 for Guasave the next-highest totals. Mazatlan closer Elkin Alcala's string of consecutive saves ended at five after he didn't get the save Sunday against Monterrey, but the Colombian's 15 salvados still lead the loop. Brandon Koch of Guasave is second with 13 saves while Josh Lueke is tied for third at 12 saves with Mexicali closer Jake Sanchez, who got his 84th career LMP save Saturdfay against Jalisco to tie another former Aguila, David Cardenas, for second on the all-time list. Well ahead in first on the list is Salon de la Fama member Isidro Marquez with 134.
Among the five upcoming midweek series beginning Tuesday, the most notable will involve third-place Los Mochis at second-place Obregon for three games. Next weekend, a couple of proud franchises will meet in a must-win series as Culiacan visits Guadalajara to take on the Jalisco Charros.
Also, Justine Siegal is in the middle of her annual peripatetic tour of Mex Pac cities during which she spends a couple days coaching for the local LMP teams and holding clinics for young female players. Siegal has already done short stints in Hermosillo, Jalisco and Guasave and is currently spending a couple days in Mexicali.
PUEBLA SWEEPS MONCLOVA IN LIM'S SERIE DEL PRINCIPE
After winning the first two games of the Mexican Winter League's Prince Series, including one marathon match that lasted into a second day, the Puebla Pericos returned home to complete their sweep over defending champion Monclova with a 14-6 win Wednesday against the Acereros at Estadio Hermanos Serdan. Monclova had defeated the Parakeets in last year's Serie del Principe, the first since the Mexican League resuscitated its Liga Invernal Mexicana for prospects and some veterans after shutting it down following the 2017 campaign.
The Pericos clinched the LIM pennant last Wednesday night by breaking open a 5-5 game with four-run outbursts in both the fifth and sixth innings. Raudel Meraz' two-run homer in the bottom of the fith gave Puebla a 9-5 lead while Luis Cossio's two-run single and a homer by Victor Landeta made it a 13-5 contest in favor of the hosts. Meraz and Rogelio Cobos both had two hits and a homer while Cossio finished with a pair of hits and two ribbies. Aldo Nunez scored on Dominic Bethancourt's two-run singleton in the top of the first to give Monclova a quick 2-0 and later belted a solo homer for the Acereros.
The opening game of the series on Saturday, December 3 saw Puebla outlast the Acereros, 2-1, in a pitcher's duel at Estadio Monclova. Hector Sepulveda pitched five shutout innings for the Pericos, allowing just two hits for the win. Monclova starter Isaac Esqueda took the loss despite a great outing of his own over five frames, letting in one run on a Herman Alvarado RBI single in the second while scattering six hits. Puebla reliever Jose Hernandez sparkled by striking out all five Steelers batsmen he faced.
Game Two was no less thrilling, although the 11-8 Puebla win took considerably longer to finish. While pitchers took center stage in the opener, this one featured batters and Mother Nature in a late Sunday night appearance delayed the contest until Monday night. Monclova raced off to a 7-0 lead that featured a nightmarish first inning for Parakeet pitchers, who gave up seven walks in the entrada, five with the bases loaded. The Pericos fought back and even took an 8-7 lead in the top of the sixth on Giancarlo Servin's two-run homer off Acereros reliever Jonathan Lopez. Monclova tied it up in the bottom of the sixth on a solo blast by pinch-hitter Edgar Salazar off Hernandez. The score stood at 8-8 until fog stopped play in the top of the eleventh at 11:11PM. After the game resumed Monday, Armando Aguilar's three-run roundtripper in the top of the twelfth gave Puebla an 8-7 that held through the end of the game, after which the two teams disembarked for the third (and final) game in Angelopolis.
MEX PAC, LiDOM CALL FOR CHANGES TO CARBBEAN SERIES
We've called the annual Caribbean Series the “Crown Jewel of Latin Baseball” for years here on BBM and while some of its luster has diminished in recent winters due to fewer major league players and smaller attendance, the Serie del Caribe remains the most important baseball tournament among most countries involved, with national pride remaining a common denominator among fans.There is still no other event like it in the sport.
In recent seasons, Mexico and the Dominican Republic have staged the best-attended Caribbean Series and now leagues from both nations have come together to create a protocol called the Miami Agreements in which they seek improvements to the event, which is scheduled to resume in Venezuela in February.. What follows is a translated story from ESPN Deportes by writer Juan Arturo Recio, who concludes that while the LiDOM and Mex Pac state a shared desire for changes to the CS, those changes weren't spelled out while the scarcity of financial details makes it impossible to determine what their points of contention are:
A recent agreement between the Dominican and Mexican winter leagues indicates that both circuits want improvements in terms of the economic aspect of the international event.
On Tuesday, November 29, the Professional Baseball League of the Dominican Republic (LIDOM) and the Mexican Pacífic League (LMP) announced the signing of a "collaboration protocol" which they called "The Miami Agreements." The press release through which the announcement was made does not go into much detail about what is being sought, but it does give hints regarding aspects of cooperation between the Latin American winterball circuits.
The joint statement published by the leagues talks about fostering ties to work together for the benefit of baseball in the region, but the most interesting point is that they will seek to promote joint initiatives within the Caribbean Baseball Confederation. Among several aspects mentioned in the press release, it talks about the economic aspects of the tournament.
The agreement states that the two leagues want to "promote the definition of a business model that allows the Caribbean Confederation and its main product, the Caribbean Series, to be placed commercially at its fair value and at efficient levels of profitability."
Said wording brings up the question of how profitable it is to hold a Caribbean Series and if the event creates a profit for all involved.
Based on the words used by the
leagues in their own statement, it can be inferred that the current business
model is one that they consider deficient. Unfortunately, the little access
there is to the monetary information of the event makes it extremely difficult
to access the data in this regard. However, for the year 2020, according to MB
Sport president Antonio Muñoz Grajales, whose company is in charge of
assembling the event in Puerto Rico, its economic impact would be closely
related to the creation of two thousand jobs and a hotel occupancy of five
Muñoz himself indicated during an interview in 2015, when the event was held on the Caribbean island, that the profits generated were about four or five million dollars but with indirect jobs, the sum could quadruple.
Without more information in this regard, doubts remain as to whether the member countries of the Caribbean Baseball Confederation see a real benefit in staging and holding the event. For several years, Mexico has been the nation with the most venues since, at least in terms of ticket sales, it surpasses other countries while the Dominican Republic is coming off what is considered its best Caribbean Series in decades. However, it is clear that both leagues see room to grow, at least financially.
We will only have to wait to see what will be the best joint ventures that will be proposed in the future by Mexico and the Dominican Republic in search of a "better" Caribbean Series.
FROM MEXICO, VISIT