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ASTROS SWEEP ANGELS IN MEXICO SERIES
The Houston Astros won twice over the Los Angeles Angels in Monterrey last weekend in the third installment of Major League Baseball's Mexico Series for 2019. The defending American League champion Astros blasted the Angels, 14-2, Saturday night, then came back a day later for a 10-4 bopping of the Halos Sunday.
In Friday's opener, Alex Bregman launched a pair of homers and contributed four RBIs while Michael Brantley smacked a longball and doubled to push four more runs across the plate as Houston built a 6-0 lead before the Angels woke the scorer in the bottom of the fourth when Kole Calhoun singled off Astros starter Wade Miley to bring in Brian Goodwin. There was little else the Angels could do against Miley and nothing the Los Angeles pitching staff could do to stem the onslaught as Houston racked up 14 runs on as many hits (ten for extra bases, including five homers).
Albert Pujols cracked a solo homer in the fifth but that would be the final blemish on the ledger for Miley, who got the win with six innings of work, allowing two runs on six hits. A crowd of 18,177 looked on at Estadio Monterrey.
Justin Verlander was the recipient of the Astros' continued offensive fireworks Sunday afternoon, this time to the tune of 13 Houston safeties including homers by Bregman, Brantley and Carlos Correa. Bregman's blow was a grand slam in the top of the fifth that erased an Angels 3-2 advantage and the Astros never looked back. Verlander got the win to go to 5-1 on the season but he was not at his best. The seven-time All-Star allowed four runs on five hits in 6.1 innings, including two homers to Jonathan Lucroy and a solo shot by David Fletcher, but Bregman's four-run bomb gave the 2011 AL Cy Young winner all the cushion he'd need.
A total of 35,791 fans attended the two-game series, with 18,177 at Saturday night's contest while another 17,614 clicked the turnstiles Sunday. The set marked the third time in 2019 that MLB teams have played a pair of games in Monterrey. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies split a pair of Cactus League exhibition games March 9-10 while the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals each copped a win in a National League twofer April 13-14. Last weekend's set brought out the most people to watch games at the 22,061-seat ballpark.
MONCLOVA WINS 8 STRAIGHT, OVERTAKES TJ FOR 1ST IN LMB NORTH
Although the Tijuana Toros led the Mexican League North Division for most of the first month of the 2019 season, they were expected to be challenged by defending champion Monterrey and perennial bridesmaid Monclova for LMB North supremacy before the season was over. It was Monclova to first rise to the challenge of overtaking the Toros for first as the Acereros swept a pair of home series over Tabasco and Campeche last week to move past Tijuana into first place.
Monclova's 7-6 win over the Piratas Sunday was their eight in a row as the Acereros moved to 20-7 on the season, good enough for a one-game lead over 19-8 Tijuana. Sunday's victory for the Steelers came in dramatic fashion. Chris Carter's solo homer in the bottom of the ninth (his second of the night and 15th of the season) pulled Monclova into a 6-6 tie and Francisco Peguero's walkoff circuit clout off Francisco Haro in the eleventh sent most of the 6,548 fans at Estadio Monclova home happy.
Things weren't as rosy for the Toros at home in Tijuana as visiting Union Laguna pounded their way to a 12-6 triumph Sunday in front of 11,956 onlookers at Estadio Chevron. Dustin Geiger went deep on a Jesus Pirela pitch with the bases loaded for a sixth-inning grand slam to give the 11-16 Algodoneros a comfortable 8-3 lead. Last place Laguna won two of their three games in the border city to cop the series as the host Toros dropped into second, three games ahead of Monterrey and Dos Laredos (both at 16-11).
In the LMB South, Oaxaca has cooled down a little but even so, six wins in their last ten games was still enough to keep the 17-10 Guerreros in the division lead, one game up on Mexico City and Pueblo (both of whom are 16-11 and also 6-4 over their last ten outings). Oaxaca dropped a 9-7 decision to Quintana Roo Sunday at home as 2,979 watchers sprinkled the Parque Eduardo Vasconcelos stands. First baseman Eric Meza went 3-for-5 with two runs for the hosts but a Brian Hernandez two-run homer in the fifth pulled the Tigres into a 7-7 tie and a bases-loaded wild pitch to Frank Diaz by reliever Juan Carlos Medina in the sixth brought in Ruben Sosa with the go-ahead run and a subsequent sacrifice fly by Diaz plated Justin Greene with an insurance run.
Mexico City closed the gap on Oaxaca by outlasting Yucatan, 8-6, in ten innings Sunday on Jorge Cantu's walkoff two-run homer off Norman Elenes; Puebla held off Aguascalientes, 6-4, at home Sunday as Pericos DH Antonio Lamas was 3-for-5 with five RBIs, thanks in part to a three-run homer in the first off Rieleros starter Ariel Pena.
Leon first baseman Carlos Lopez has taken the lead in the LMB batting race with a .433 average, ahead of Aguascalientes' Jose Vargas at .426 and Monclova's Carter at .422. Carter's home run Sunday gives him one more than Vargas' Rieleros teammate Michael Wing, 15 to 14. Wing does lead the league in RBIs with 37, two more than Carter and Felix Pie of Leon. Dos Laredos' Johnny Davis has a comfortable lead in stolen bases with 16, five more than Alonzo Harris of Oaxaca.
Monclova's Josh Lowey was touched by Tabasco for four runs on five hits and three walks in 6.2 innings last Wednesday, but he left the game with a 6-5 lead as the Acereros went on to a 7-5 win, giving Lowey an LMB-best 5-0 record, one win more than four other pitchers (including 4-0 Edgar Gonzalez of Monterrey). Lowey is tied for fifth with 33 strikeouts, well behind the 49 of Leon's Yasutomo Kubo, a former Pacific League Rookie of the Year in Japan's NPB. Yucatan's Joe Samayoa has pitched far better than his 1-1 record would infer, with a Liga-topping 0.66 ERA after five starts and 27.1 innings. Monclova's Carlos Bustamante and Rafael Martin of Saltillo are tied for the lead with nine saves apiece while Tijuana's Jesus Pirela (who ran into hard luck Sunday) is tops with eight holds.
CUARTO BAT WRITER'S TOP 6 MEXICAN BALLPARKS (PART 2)
A writer for Mexican baseball website Cuarto Bat, Yasser Trujillo, posted a column in April about his picks for the top six ballparks in the Mexican and Mexican Pacific leagues. Here is the second part of a series in which we bring you a translated version. Although it was reported last week in BBM that Cuarto Bat's site had since apparently been suspended, according to a Google search, we're glad to report that it is back online at CuartoBat.com and that you can download a free copy of their February magazine. While there appears to only have been one story posted since early April, we're hoping they get things back up and running again with new content.
5. Estadio Teodoro Mariscal, Mazatlan
It's difficult to rank and evaluate an enclosure when it is not yet completely finished. However, Teodoro Mariscal de Mazatlán already offers full-time services.
Despite that, although tentative images and final models look spectacular, you can never give a well-founded opinion until you visit the property. It is essential to live the experience and enjoy it in its entirety.
It is a park with 75 percent progress, but it has already spent its first full season hosting the fans. It has a splendid interior, but an exterior undergoing work. It was still full of beams, earth, pipes and machines.
However, despite everything, there is already an aura of modernity. It offers a first level experience desired by many places that are finished in their entirety.
It has the largest screen in Latin America in 4K resolution. It also has a wide inner corridor of 360 degrees where one walks without limitations and can surround the property at will without even taking his eyes off the field. It has a food area of about 35 stores with a wide offer for all visitors. In addition, bars and a la carte restaurants with a diamond view.
For access, it has automated turnstiles to enter through either with your physical ticket or on your cell phone. It has televisions in each aisle, family activities in the main lobby, a huge shop with a baseball concept and even a barber shop overlooking third base.
It is expected that by October 2019 it will be completely finished. By then it will be complete with its colorful external mesh, its esplanade with dancing fountains. Also be ready will be its huge sign that is shaping to be iconic, with everything including an external screen.
It is a property endorsed by the Major Leagues and that is also a few steps from the beach, the Malecon and the Zona Dorada. It has the best location, above any other ball park in this country. In conclusion, a stadium that surely 100 percent will rise considerably in this ranking.
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