Nice to see current and former Rays playing well in Winter Ball. But when they’re the only players on their teams playing well, that usually is not a very good sign.
Dominican Winter League Championship Series Game 3: Leones de Escogido 3, Aguilas Cibaenas 0
Aguilas third baseman, 3-hole hitter, and one-time Rays Rule 5 Draft pick Hector Luna has pulled an Alex Rodriguez this postseason for the Aguilas, hitting under .200 just about the entire time. But the Aguilas decided to stick with him, and he finally came through on Tuesday night with a 3-hit game… and of course the Aguilas still lost. Luna went 3 for 4 in the game- the rest of the team, including fellow ex-Ray Manny Ramirez, went a combined 2 for 26 with a pair of walks. It was a tough day for them against former Boston Red Sox first round pick Kris Johnson, who went 6 innings allowing just 4 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1, followed by three Escogido relievers who have seen time in the big leagues including two of the best in the game: Octavio Dotel, ex-Rays minor leaguer Jhonny Nunez (who like Dotel appeared in the big leagues with the White Sox), and of course Fernando Rodney. The trio allowed just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 4 in their 3 innings of shutout relief to end it. Also appearing for the Leones was Julio Lugo, who went 1 for 4 with a run scored, Jesus Feliciano, who went 1 for 5, Jorge Cantu, who went 0 for 4 but scored a run, and Leslie Anderson, who went 0 for 3 but actually drew a walk! Anderson is only hitting .211 in the postseason, but at least he’s taking his walks, something Rays fans have been waiting for him to do since the moment he signed. Probably just a fluke, but hey, a man can dream. Recent Rays signee Juan Sandoval also got into the game for Cibaenas, throwing 1.2 perfect innings of relief to follow 4.1 one-run innings for Lorenzo Barcelo, but 7 innings by the Aguilas’ bullpen allowing just one run went to waste as their offense (other than Luna) could not get anything. The good news for the Aguilas is that the DWL Championship Series is a best-of-nine series. The bad news is that they’re down 3-0 now, and it’s going to be awfully hard to come back.
Mexican Pacific League Championship Series Game 1: Yaquis de Obregon 5, Aguilas de Mexicali 3
It the MPL Championship Series opener, and it quickly became apparent how important starting pitching is in the playoffs. This game was over pretty quickly after Mexicali’s starter Jorge Campillo allowed 4 runs in just 2.2 innings while the Royals’ Luis Mendoza went 6 innings for Obregon allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 11 while walking 3. Guided by former Rays catcher Iker Franco, Obregon pitching struck out 14 by the time the game was through. Franco isn’t hitting at all, but he’s catching so well that the Yaquis almost couldn’t care less (could the Rays or someone offer him a minor league deal?). Wes Bankston did have a solid game in the loss for Mexicali, going 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored, while Jon Weber went 1 for 5.