Rays Winter Ball Recap: Ex-Rays Figure Prominently in Venezuelan Winter League Thrillers
Is there anything better than classic extra-inning games in the postseason? Yes–them coming in the offseason, when every baseball fan is starving for some excitement in games. While people went on and on debating the Hall of Fame voting, the winter leagues proceeded as normal and gave the fans watching a special experience.
Dominican Winter League Postseason: Leones del Escogido 9, Aguilas Cibaenas 2
Joey Terdoslavich and Hector Luna simply could not do enough as the Aguilas faltered in their opportunity to gain some ground on first-place Escogido in the Dominican Winter League round-robin. Terdoslavich went 1 for 4 with an RBI while Luna went 1 for 4 with a run scored while Julio Lugo went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored in the win for the Leones in their victory.
Mexican Pacific League Division Series: Mayos de Navojoa 16, Caneros de los Mochis 4
After blowing a 2-0 lead to allow the Caneros to tie the series at 2 games apiece, the Mayos came back with two straight victories to win the series in 6 games. Everything went right in this game, with Fernando Flores and Luis Fonseca both drilling 2 home runs. Among the ex-Rays, Jon Weber went 2 for 5 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored while Wes Bankston went 1 for 5 with a run scored. For the Caneros, Jason Bourgeois finishes the postseason with a solid .308 average after he went 1 for 4 with a walk, but his efforts were not enough.
Venezuelan Winter League Postseason: Tiburones de La Guaira 8, Aguilas del Zulia 7 (12 innings)
You had to constantly be on the edge of your seat watching this one. The game was tied at four different points as both teams found a way to come back every time the game started to get out of reach. Ernesto Mejia‘s 2-run double gave the Aguilas a 2-0 lead against ex-Rays prospect Bobby Cramer and the Tiburones, but La Guaira got a pair of runs in the 2nd before Joe Thurston and brief Ray Alex Cabrera went back-to-back to give them a 4-2 lead. But Cramer could not finish off his solid outing as Ender Inciarte got him for a 2-run single to knot the game at 4. Then in the 7th, Freddy Galvis doubled off Bruedlin Suero and RBI singles by Jose Pirela and Oswaldo Arcia gave Zulia a 6-4 lead. But in the bottom of the inning, a passed ball and a 2-run single by C.J. Retherford made it a 7-6 game in favor of La Guaira. But even that huge momentum shift was short-lived as Galvis’ RBI single tied the game at 7. Finally in the 12th, Rene Reyes‘ walk-off homer gave the Tiburones–good thing they were the home team because Zulia never got the chance to respond. Several Rays saw time for the victorious Tiburones as Cabrera went 1 for 2 with his homer, a walk, and 2 runs scored, Cesar Suarez went 1 for 4 with a run scored, and Cramer went 4.1 innings allowing 4 runs on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1 and posting a 7-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Cramer did fine, but two back-breaking hits were enough to ruin his outing. For Zulia, Sergio Espinosa had a forgettable game, hitting the only batter he faced with a pitch.
Navegantes del Magallanes 6, Caribes de Anzoátegui 5 (13 innings)
This game featured just as many ex-Rays, but it was ironic they way they figured into the game. Both teams had one that delivered a great game, with Hector Gimenez going 2 for 3 with 2 walks for the Caribes and Robinson Chirinos going 3 for 4 for Magallanes. Erold Andrus did pinch-hit for the Navegantes, but his contribution was negative as he grounded into a double play to end a potential rally in the 9th. The crazy thing, though, was that each team had exactly one ex-Ray appear in relief and it was those two pitchers that were the pitchers of record in the game. Jean Machi earned the win with 2 perfect innings, striking out 3, while Cedrick Bowers took the loss, allowing 1 run on 2 hits in 1+ innings. He fell apart after getting three groundouts to work through the 12th. The game vaulted Magallanes ahead of Anzoátegui for first place in the Venezuelan Winter League round-robin at 5-1, and the two teams will be going down to the wire until the very end.