The Undercards: Hector Luna Home Run The Difference as Cibaenas 4-Hits Oriente in Pitchers’ Duel
By Robbie Knopf
It’s a common refrain for Rays fans- it’s great to get outstanding outings from your starting pitchers, but if you want to win ballgames, you have to find yourselves some runs. The Aguilas Cibaenas got unbelievable pitching on Wednesday, and Hector Luna gave them the support they needed to come away with a satisfying victory.
Dominican Winter League Postseason: Aguilas Cibaenas 2, Estrellas de Oriente 0
In the 4th inning of this one, the Aguilas’ Hector Luna took fellow ex-Ray Ramon Ortiz deep for a 2-run home run. That would be the only scoring in the game as both teams got dominant performances from their pitching staffs. For Cibaenas, Dustin Richardson went 7 innings allowing just 4 hits, striking out 10 while walking 1. A pair of relievers finished off the effort for the Aguilas as they 4-hit Oriente, striking out 13 while walking just 1. The Estrallas’ hitters could not get anything against Cibaenas pitching, but you can blame their staff for that. Ortiz was great except for the home run, going 6.1 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1, and Jose Trinidad finished the game for Oriente, going 2.2 hitless innings, striking out 2 while walking 1, but their performances went to waste as the Cibaenas pitching was just too good. To wrap up the other performances by ex-Rays, Ray Olmedo went 1 for 3 with one of the Estrellas’ 4 hits and their only walk while Manny Ramirez went 0 for 3 for the Aguilas, reaching once on a hit-by-pitch.
Leones de Escogido 4, Toros del Este 3
Escogido had a remarkable comeback in this one, overcoming a 3-0 deficit with 4 runs in the 8th inning, including a Mauro Gomez 3-run home run, to come away with the win. A trio of ex-Rays had interesting performances. Jorge Cantu, making his Este debut after his Naranjeros de Hermosillo got eliminated from the Mexican Pacific League playoffs, went 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI, Willy Aybar went 1 for 1 for Escogido before getting taken out of the game following a hit-by-pitch- hope he’s OK- and Jhonny Nunez tossed a perfect 9th to nail down the save for the Leones.
Mexican Pacific League Playoffs: Aguilas de Mexicali 5, Algodoneros do Guasave 4
Speaking off incredible comebacks, Mexicali has to be feeling awfully good about themselves after this one. Guasave took a 4-0 lead in the top of the 2nd inning before the Aguilas responded with 1 run in the bottom of the inning to trail 4-1. The score remained that way until the 6th inning, when a Ricky Alvarez solo home run made it 4-2 Guasave. Then Mexicali kept chipping away in the 7th inning, with Oscar Robles doubling then scoring on an error to make it 4-3. And then a pair of slumping ex-Rays figured prominently in the Aguilas’ 8th inning rally to tie the game. After Alvarez singled to begin the inning, Weber, the Aguilas’ third-place hitter, bunted him over to second base knowing that he wasn’t hitting and just had to do whatever he could to help the team. A wild pitch moved Alvarez to 3rd base before Wes Bankston found a way to get him in on a flyball to centerfield to knot the game at 4. Then in the 9th, pinch-hitter Jorge Guzman came up with a walk-off RBI single as the Aguilas came up with a run each in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th innings to beat Guasave 5-4. Weber and Bankston combined to go just 0 for 5 with a walk in the game, but they did what they needed to do in that game-tying 8th inning rally.
Yaquis de Obregon 10, Tomateros de Culiacan 3
Unlike the games we saw above, Obregon rolled in this one and Iker Franco was in on the fun, going 2 for 4 with a run scored. Juan Miranda also went 0 for 3 with a walk for the Yaquis as 8 of the 9 Obregon starters reached base. Jesse Gutierrez slammed 2 home runs while Doug Clark went 4 for 5 with a homer, a double, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico) Postseason: Indios de Mayaguez 7, Cangrejeros de Santurce 6
Despite the best efforts of a pair of ex-Rays, Santurce came up just short in this one. Jose Ruiz went 1 for 2 with 2 RBI for Santurce, but was pinch-hit for in the 5th as he may be hurt, and Julio DePaula worked around a hit with a pair of groundouts as he tossed a scoreless 6th inning to hold a 5-5 tie. Ruiz has been huge for Santurce out of their cleanup spot, hitting .359, and it would be a major blow to them if he misses any time.
Gigantes de Carolina 3, Criollos de Caguas 1
I am completely befuddled by the fact that Carolina benched Jesus Feliciano in this one, but it worked as they won 3-1. Feliciano, who was the only Gigantes player who could say that he had a good game as he went 3 for 4 in the team’s 14-2 loss, was replaced at the leadoff spot and in centerfield by Osvaldo Martinez, who went 0 for 3 with a walk. Leslie Anderson did the same out of the Gigantes’ 3-hole (yay, Anderson drew a walk!). Catcher Rene Garcia drove in all 3 Carolina runs and that was enough as their pitching was phenomenal in a complete reversal of their last game. Gaby Hernandez allowed just an unearned run on 5 hits in 5 innings, striking out 4 while walking none, and then ex-Ray Eddie Morlan was incredible behind him, allowing just a hit and a walk in 3 shutout relief innings, striking out 3 and getting his other 6 outs on the ground. Sergio Espinosa tossed a perfect 9th for Caguas, striking out 1, but by then it was too late. Morlan has been exceptional this postseason for Carolina, managing a 0.90 ERA.