Dominicans win their 20th Caribbean Series defeating Venezuela 9-3

February 8, 2020

By Lewis Rubman

Venezuela (6-2) 3 9 0

Dominican Republic (7-1) 9 12 0

HATO REY PUERTO RICO–In the early hours of this morning, the Toros del Este won the Dominican Republic’s twentieth Caribbean Series title by running rings around Venezuela’s Lara Cardinals in the final game of this year’s winter classic.

It was an exciting game, but no one was surprised by the outcome. Four members of the Toros had just been named to the Series’ all-star team, left fielder and lead off batter, Rubén Sosa, right handed reliever Ramón Ramírez, designated hitter Jordany Valdespín, and their Puerto Rican manager, Lino Rivera. Mexico was the only other team to have as large a representation.

The only member of the Venezuelan team named as an all star was shortstop, Alí Castillo. It was a tribute to Lara’s determination that it took as long as it did for the Dominicans to run away with the game.

And did they ever run! Their box score statistics for base running, two stolen bases, one runner picked off, and three advances on wild pitches, don’t begin to tell the story of this team that seemed to be in perpetual motion.

Box scores don’t tell you about leg hits, singles turned into doubles, frustrated double plays, runners taking off for the next base only to return after the batter follows off the pitch,.and the like. Sabremetrics might, but that’s a different story.

The Toros were leading 3-0 through four innings of play. Then, with two down and nobody on base, Adonis García singled to left, and Gorkys Hernández drove him in with a line drive double to center.

This Dominicans got their lead back and then some, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth and another in the sixth. But Venezuela never let the game get out of hand. They added two tallies in the top of the seventh, bringing the score to 6-3.

The Redbirds brought the potential tying run to the plate with one out in their half of the eighth, when Oakland’s Jorge Mateo failed to come up with Carlos Rivero’s grounder to the Cardenales’ shortstop’s right. It wasn’t an easy play, and the scorer correctly ruled it a hit, but a better fielding shortstop might have made it.

The Toros ran away with the game, starting with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Mateo redeemed whatever fault he might have committed in the top of the inning by slamming a hard grounder down the left field line for a Mark Ellis double. Sosa walked.

Venezuela made its sixth pitching change of the game, and Pedro Rodríguez got Junior Lake to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. At least, that’s how first base umpire Kelvin Bultrón saw it. All-star manager Lino Rivera didn’t. He challenged the call vehemently enough to get kicked out of the game, although it wasn’t clear if his ejection came before, during, or after he engaged in a few acts of umpire pushing and dirt kicking (or maybe it was turf kicking (Santurce’s HIram Bithorn Stadium has an artificial playing surface).

Nonetheless, Rivera’s challenge was upheld, and the twin killing was turned into a force out at second. An infield single, a hit batter, and Abraham Almonte’s two bagger to right brought the score to 9-3, which is where it stayed until the final out was recorded.

Hernández’s RBI double was the only extra base hit for Venezuela. Almonte and Mateo doubled for the Dominican.

The DR’s starting pitcher, Paolo Espino, who pitched a total of twenty-four big league innings for two teams in 2017, got the win. Tim Peterson, Anthony Carter, Jumbo Díaz, Wirfin Obispo, and Ramón Ramírez gave him the bullpen support he needed. Espino yielded one run in five innings. Carter allowed the remaining two, while working just a third of an inning.

Venezuela’s starter, Wilfredo Ledesma, who gave up three runs, all earned, in as many innings, was saddled with the loss. He was followed by Francisley Bueno, Jesús Sánchez, Juan Sandoval, José Ascanio, Hassan Pena, Pedro Rodríguez, and Ricardo Gómez.

If enough goes according to plan, the sixty-third Caribbean Series will take place in Mazatlán next February.

Caribbean Series Semi Finals Game 2: Dominicans get past Puerto Rico in a real nail biter 4-3

February 7

By Lewis Rubman

Puerto Rico (2-4) 3 5 9

Dominican Republic (5-1) 4 7 1

HATO REY, PUERTO RICO–Right after Puerto Rico’s gut wrenching 5-4 loss to the Dominican Republic in the last game of this year’s Caribbean Series, some one asked José Valentín, the manager of Puerto Rico’s team, the Santurce Cangrejeros (Crabbers), how he felt about fellow Puerto Rican Lino Rivera managing the Dominican entry. Knowing that the two teams would face each other again, in the following day’s one and done semi-final, Valentín answered, “All I can see is that for one of us, it’ll be his last game.”

That following day was last night, and it was Valentín would managed his last game of the Series.

For a long time, it looked as if it would be the other way round. The Santurce Cangrejeros (Crabbers), representing the Island of Enchantment, got off to any early lead, but in a way that boded ill for the team’s hopes for the championship.

The Puerto Rican squad loaded the bases, with one out in the top of the second and Cuban right hander Yunesky Maya on the mound for the Dominicans. Roberto Peña then reached first on a bunt single-quite a move for a catcher-as Raymond Fuentes crossed the plate and the two other runners moved up a base. Henry Ramos smacked a hard single to right, driving in Ozzie Martínez, Jan Hernández following closely on his heels.

But Junior Lake made a magnificent throw from right field, but home plate umpire Emil Jiménez called the runner safe, to the mostly Puerto Rican crowd’s delight. That was the start of the foreboding, because review umpire Iván Mercado reversed the decision, killing the rally.

The Dominicans chipped a run of Puerto Rico’s lead, but they got that back in the fifth. Puerto Rico quickly added a run in their half of the sixth. The Dominican cut Puerto Rico’s 3-2 lead to 3-2 in their half of that inning and almost eliminated it entirely.

A walk,a single, and a stolen base, followed by Wilken Castillo’s infield single scored a run and put men on first and second with no one out. They moved up a base on an infield out. Gustavo Núñez hit what looked like a sacrifice fly, but Jan Hernández did his best Ramón Laureano imitation, and threw Abraham Almonte out at the plate. It was Junior Lake’s second inning throw to the plate all over again, down to the long wait before the the result of the replay was announced.

It was now the bottom of the eighth, and the bottom fell out of Puerto Rico’s chances. Facing number 13 Nicholas Padilla, Jordany Espín singled to right. Peter O’Brien sent him to third with a double to center. Francisco Cruz came into the game to relieve Padilla and uncorked a wild pitch, which allowed Espín to score and Alen Hanson, pinch running for O’Brien to advance to third. Almonte lofted a sacrifice fly to center, and the Domincan led, 4-3.

Fernando Abad, who had entered the game to get the final out in the top of the eighth, got the side out in the ninth and the win. It was a good game for players with Oakland connections. Jorge Mateo went one for three, raising his average for the Series to .250.

Padilla took the loss.

The Dominican Toros del Este take on the Venezuelan Lara Cardenales for the Series crown tomorrow night at 8:00.

Caribbean Series Baseball: Mexico gets key hits in win over Puerto Rico 4-1

tomateros.com photo

By Lewis Rubman

Puerto Rico (1-1) 2 8 2

Mexico (1-1) 4 11 0

HATO REY, PUERTO RICO–This afternoon’s match up between the Santurce Cangrejeros (Crabbers), Puerto Rico’s team, playing today as the visitors, and Mexico’s representative, the Culiacán Tomateros (Tomato Growers) began as if it might be a replay of the mornings pitchers’ duel between Colombia and Panama.

The score was tied at one all for the first four and a half innings, the Crabbers’ tally coming on a solo home run into the right field bleachers off the bat of Jan Hernández in the top of the second, the first round tripper of the Series. The Tomateros caught up in the bottom of the third by stringing together a couple of singles, a sacrifice bunt, and an infield out that brought their first run home.

Two innings later, the complexion of the contest changed. Culiacán’s right fielder, Sebastián Elizalde, who had watched Hernández’s blast sail over his head in the second, now sent his own into the cheap (or at least cheaper seats) in right. But with one difference; there were two men on board when Elizalde launched his liner. The game was no slugfest or a blowout, but the prospect of pitchers mastering batters had disappeared.

Santurce came charging back in their half of the sixth. An error by Puerto Rico’s third sacker, Emmanuel Rivera, had allowed one of the runners who scored on Elizondo’s clout two reach base. Rivera atoned for that sin by driving in Iván de Jesús, Jr., from first on a double to left.

That was all the scoring. Puerto Rico had some chances but blew them. In the seventh, they had men on second and third with no outs. It wasn’t good pitching that saved Mexico’s bacon then; it was bad base running. Reliever Derrick Loop picked pinch runner Alexis Pantoja off second to break the back of the rally.

Both teams now are tied at 1-1 with Panama for third place. Venezuela, who plays the Dominican tonight, is undefeated and leads the pack by a half a game. The Dominicans trail the three tied teams by a half a game and leads the 0-2 Panama squad by the same margin.

Manuel Barrreda, Mexico’s starting pitcher, picked up the win. He gave up five hits and one run, earned, in his five innings of work, throwing 78 pitches, 49 of which were strikes, according to baseball’s weird accounting system that considers any pitch a bat makes contact with a strike. Adalberto Baldonado, who faced three batters in the ninth, K’ing two of them, notched the save. PUerto Rico’s Giovanni Soto was charged with the loss. He gave up four runs (three earned) on eight hits in four and a third innings.

Tomorrow’s schedule calls for Panama to play Mexico in the morning, the Dominican Republic to face Colombia in the afternoon, and Puerto Rico to duke it out with Venezuela under the lights.

Caribbean Series Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico edges Panama 4-3; Santiago shuts down Panama in five innings of work

Puerto Rico pitcher Hector Santiago pitched five innings of work to shut down Panama in a one run win on Saturday. Photo from zimbio.com

By Lewis Rubman

Panama 3 8 2

Puerto Rico 4 9 3     10 innings

HATO REY, PUERTO RICO–Panama participated in the earliest years of the Caribbean Series was played, from its inception in 1949 through its twenty-one year suspension following the 1960 tournament. Indeed, with the victory of the Carta Negra Yankees in 1950, Panama won the Series title in the tournament’s second year. Carta Negra, by the way, was a brewery. It wasn’t until 2019, when the political situation kept Venezuela from hosting the games, which were moved to Panama City, That the isthmus nations returned to Series competition and the Toros de Herrera substituted for the Venezuelan entry. The newcomers surprised everybody by winning the Caribbean Crown. Panama is represented this year by the Astronautas from the the volcanic region of Chiquirí.

At 8:20 last night, Atlantic Time, the Astronautas went to bat against the Cangrejeros (Crabbers) of Santurce, Puerto Rico’s entry. Panama threatened their hosts in each of the first three innings, suffering The Curse of the Lead Off double in the opening frame, getting their first batter on base through a single and a walk in the second and third, respectively. But Héctor Santiago, Puerto Rico’s starter kept the Panamanians slammed the door to home closed on the Panamanians during all five of the innings he pitched.

They finally managed a tally in the top of the sixth, when Devin Raftery relieved Santiago when Jack López drove Jan Hernández home from second with a single to right.

Puerto Rico already had scored a run in the third on Vimael Machín’s sac fly, and they threatened to score again in the bottom of the fifth. But Andy Otero came in to strike out José Sermo with runners on first and second and two down. But one out walk to Jan Hernández, followed by another RBI single by López brought Carlos de Jesús Díaz into the fray in the very next inning. Díaz successfully closed out the frame but was not so successful in the seventh. Machín’s double, a walk, a sacrifice bunt that Díaz himself bobbled for an error, and a walk let in the tying run and left the bases loaded with Crabbers.

Puerto Rico seemed poised to break the game open. Diego Moreno put an end to that thought. Two hard hit balls, a line out to third and a 6-4-3 double play kept the game tied at three.

It stayed that way until the new extra inning, start with a runner on second rule came into play. Panama couldn’t take advantage of it, but Puerto Rico did. With Tyler Wilson toeing the rubber for the Astronautas and Henry Ramos having begun the inning at second, Jan Hernández bunted him over to third. A medium deep fly to left by Jonathan Morales was all that was needed to send the crowd home, or at least to the long lines that blocked the parking lot exits to the street.

Sunday´s games are scheduled to start at 11:00 (Colombia-Panama), 3:30 (Puerto Rico-Mexico), and 8:30 (Dominican-Venezuela).