Caribbean Series 2017: Banos goes eight helps Cubans get shutout; Despaigne and Saavedra go deep for Cubans

February 8, 2017


Cuba 4, Mexico 0

By Lewis Rubman

Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico–Going into tonight’s match up, the Mexicali Eagles, of Mexico, were 3-0. The Zuria Eagles,of Venezuela, who had just defeated the hapless Dominicans were a half-game behind them at 3-1, and Mexicali’s opponent, the Granma Sorrel Horses, out of Cuba, were bringing up the rear of the teams still vying for the first seed in the play off rounds of this year’s Caribbean Series, with a record of 2-1. If the Cubans managed to pull it off, we’d have a three way tie, which would have to be broken by the Caribbean Baseball Federation’s complex rules on the subject. Otherwise, Mexico would face fourth place Puerto Rico in Monday’s semi-finals, and all the Federation’s rules would have to decide would be whether Cuba or Venezuela would bat first when they would meet each other in Monday’s other game.

One swing of the bat by a slumping thirty year old, thirteen year veteran of Cuban, Mexican, and Japanese baseball solved all these scheduling problems. Cuba will play Puerto Rico at noon, Pacific Time, tomorrow, and Mexico will duke in out with Venezuela at four o’clock, unless the earier game delays the start of the second one.

Mexico played tonight’s game as the visiting team, so Cuba’s Vladmir Banos threw the game’s opening pitch to Chris Roberson, who eventually struck out. Banos didn’t get to throw the last pitch of the game; reliever Jose Garcia did that. But first Banos had thrown 123 pitches, 72 for strikes. He did that in eight and two-thirds innings. Garcia wrapped up the job in four pitches. Between the two of them, they shut out Mexicali on six hits, all off Banos.

Mexicali’s performance on the mound wasn’t too shabby, either, in spite of Cuba’s double digit hit total. If you could excise a six play sequence in the fifth inning, the game would have been a scoreless tie when Garica got Yordanis Linares to pop out to first and seal Mexico’s defeat.

Here’s the sequence: Starter Javier Solano is on the mound for Mexico. Yoelkis Cespedes, Yoenis’s nineteen year old half brother, singles to left and advances to second when Roel Santos lays down a bunt single to third. Alexander Ayala fouls out to first. Alfredo Despaigne, the thirty year old veteran of thirteen seasons, who was hitting .091 for the series at game time and has been hitless in his two times at bats so far tonight, blasts a home run to right. Then William Saavedra blasts a homer to left. That’s it.

Jose Meraz replaces the shell shocked Garica. He, Edgar Gomez, and Jose Manuel Lopez shut down Granma for the rest of the game.

The final line score was Cuba, four runs, eleven hits, and no errors. They left seven men on base. Mexico scored no runs on six hits, and made no errors. They left six men on base.












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