Rays Winter Leagues Recap: Ali Solis’ Bizarre Game-Winner
By Robbie Knopf
I know exactly what you’re reading this minor league recap: for juicy matchups of teammates like Juan Carlos Oviedo squaring off against Josh Lueke and Justin Christian going against Ali Solis. Well, it’s probably not, but that’s exactly what we have to talk about here on this Tuesday morning.
Dominican Winter League: Aguilas Cibaenas 4, Toros del Este 1
Manny Ramirez had a nice game for the Aguilas in their win, going 1 for 3 with a solo homer and a walk. Of course, it works out that the player least related to the Rays in this contest delivered the best performance, but there are several other players for us to talk about.
Juan Carlos Oviedo also appeared in this game for Cibaenas, tossing a scoreless inning with a strikeout as he worked around a hit. Oviedo recently signed with the Texas Rangers on a minor league deal, and best of luck to him as he continues his quest to get his career back on track.
Josh Lueke, meanwhile, is still at Triple-A Durham for now and happened to have a nice game in this one, striking out 2 in a scoreless frame for Este. He looked very good in the regular season as well, managing a 1.86 ERA and a 10-0 strikeout to walk ratio in 9.2 innings pitched. Evidently, the DWL remains in Lueke’s comfort zone, unlike the major leagues.
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Mayo Acosta did fall back to the earth for the Toros, going 0 for 3, but recent minor league signing Eugenio Velez was able to make a splash. The 32-year-old utility man went 1 for 2, and when he got on base via a single, he proceeded to steal both second and third base. Velez’s career splits–he’s much better against right-handed pitching–make him a poor fit for the Rays’ roster, but the Rays would like his stout speed.
Mexican Pacific League: Tomateros de Culiacán 2, Caneros de los Mochis 1 (11 innings)
Justin Christian only had 3 homers in 61 games in the regular season for the Caneros, but he has come up big in the playoffs. Christian homered in the 4th inning to give los Mochis a 1-0 lead, delivering his 2nd homer in 4 postseason games. Overall, he went 2 for 5 in the contest. However, the Tomateros tied the game in the 7th inning before Ali Solis (kind of) delivered the game-winner in the 11th.
With one out and runners on first and second, Solis hit a groundball to the first baseman. The first baseman threw to the shortstop covering second base for one out, but the return throw was wild, allowing the runner that had been on second to score. Solis didn’t get an RBI–although he would have had the runner been on third base–but it was his batted ball that brought the Tomateros to the win.
Solis’ other at-bat delivered a more legitimate result, a double, but of course the should-have-been double play ball turns into the game-winner. Actually, Solis easily could have been the goat in this game for that play as he doubled in the 9th inning but was then picked off second base. However, his luck turned in quite a dramatic fashion.
This contest also finished in an amusing way in the bottom of the 11th, with a los Mochis runner getting thrown out by the right fielder trying to go first to third on a single to end the game. Does that remind anyone of the Carl Crawford–Greg Golson game? Better yet, Golson appeared in this game for the Caneros, going 1 for 4 with a walk.