Photo credit: @AguilasDeMxli
By: Lewis Rubman
November 10, 2018
Charros de Jalisco: 0 | 4 | 1
Aguilas de Mexicali: 8 | 14 | 1
MEXICALI, Baja California — Yesterday, I made a mistake. I said that Mike Sánchez had been credited with an unmerited save because when he entered last night’s game, the on=deck hitter didn’t represent the potential tying run. I had forgotten, that it was Rodolfo Aguilar who entered the game in that situation. After giving up a run-scoring single to the only batter he faced, Aguilar left the bases loaded for Sánchez, who did, indeed, began his stint with the potential tying run in the on deck circle.
I also promised to explain the Mexican Pacific League’s method of determining the final standings of its teams. Here goes. From October through December, the teams play a 68 game season, divided equally into two rounds. In each half season, the team with the best won-lost percentage receives eight points; the second, seven; the third, six; the fourth, five; the fifth, four and a half points; the sixth, four points; the seventh, three and a half; and the eighth, three. Then the totals for each half season are added up to determine the teams’ overall positions. The tie breakers for establishing the standings for all the fragments of the season until the participants in the semi-finals have been determined, are in decreasing order of importance, face-to-face won-lost records and the “run-average.” This last figure is computed by multiplying the teams’ total runs scored, multiplying it by 100, and dividing the result by the runs scored against them.
Starting just after New Year’s Day, there are three play-off rounds, each of them best of seven games. In the opening round, the first place team faces the sixth place finisher; the second, the fifth; and the third place team plays the fourth. The teams with the three best records, along with the wild card (called “the best loser”) advance to the semi-finals. The best loser is the one with the most play-off wins. The two tie-breakers are play-off run-average, followed by the place in the over-all regular season standings. For the semi-finals and final series, teams can add to players to their rosters (although one of them can play) from the two eliminated teams. The first seed plays the wild card team and the second and third place teams face each other in a best of seven series to determine the finalists, who then duke it out in another best of seven series. The survivor goes on to the Caribbean Series, which I’ll discuss in tomorrow’s article, the last of this three-part report.
I also promised to continue my brief history of the Aguilas after they left “organized” baseball in 1958. After years of unsuccessful attempts to enter what everyone calls the winter leagues, although almost all of their games are played in the fall, Mexicali was admitted to the Mexican Pacific League in 1976. It took the Eagles a decade to win their first league championship, but that 1985-86 team, with the A’s current minor league defensive coordinator, Juan Navarrete, playing second base and John Kruk in the outfield, went on to win the Caribbean Series. Three of the champions’ four wins came in the last inning. The Aguilas also topped the league in 1988-89, 1999-2000, and 2016-17, but that initial Caribbean victory was the only time they’ve taken home all the marbles. As I mentioned, the 1989 Series took place in Mexicali.
Over the years, many other players known to American fans have taken the field for the Aguilas. Among them are Mike Piazza, Fernando Valenzuela, Jonny Gomes, Rudy Seánez, Jeff Samardzija, Sergio Romo, Dan Serafini, Matt Joyce, David Cortés, Rubén Amaro, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jason Bourgoeois, Adam Rosales, and Ron Washington. Also, great Mexican players, not well known in the states, like Cananea Reyes, Matías Carrillo, and Houston Jiménez also have played for the Mexicali faithful. Some American players have carved out major careers playing in the Mexican League in the summer and the with the Eagles during the fall. Derrick Bell and Oakland born Chris Roberson are among these, as is the belovèd Bubba Smith (pronounced BOObah Esmith in Spanish), who was extremely popular with young fans in the US minor leagues, Korea, Japan, and Mexico. A rotund first baseman, Bubba gave his name to a hot dog stand at the Eagles’ Nest.
Eventually the word Bubba replaced salchica as the local word for that delicacy. Today you can walk into the local supermarket and find the clearly marked Bubbas section.
Tomorrow, I’ll provide a brief overview of the food available and The Nest, now it’s time to report on this evening’s game.
Mexicali even its record at 12-12 and dropped Jalisco below .500 at 11-13 by lambasted the Charros 8-0 at the Eagles’ Nest tonight. Taking a leaf from last night’s book, the Eagles soared to a commanding lead early in the game, this time going ahead 6-0 after two innings. Again, their starting pitcher held this lead as long as he was on the mound. Tonight, it was David Reyes, who held his opponent scoreless of six frames, yielding only three hits and one walk while striking out eight Charros. C.C. Delgado earned the save by pitching three shutout innings, allowing only one hit, an eighth inning double to Kevin Medrano, and striking out four of the 10 batters he faced. Jalisco’s unfortunate starter, Vince Malesky, was touched up for five runs, two of them earned, in one plus innings pitched.
The three unearned runs scored as the result of his own throwing error in the top of the second. A trio of Jalisco relievers held the Eagles to one run each over the remaining seven innings, but the damage was done.
For the second straight night, neither team hit a home run. The Eagles scored on a combination of timely hitting and hustle. Malesky’s fatal error occurred on a sacrifice bunt by Javier Salazar that allowed him to reach second and Ricky Alvarez to score while Ramón Ríos made it to third. David Harris stole a base, and Jason Boureois purloined two.
Tomorrow, we’ll see Mexicali go for the sweep, while Jalisco tries to salvage its honor in the series finale.