Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tigres finish off Margarita, arm for Finals

vs. los Bravos
Photo courtesy of los Tigres de Aragua

Bravos 5 at Aragua 6

W: J. Karnuth (1-0, 4.63); L: L. Ramirez (1-1, 2.45); SV: F. Butto (4)
HR: ARA: M. Prado (2).

Los Tigres de Aragua defeated los Bravos de Margarita in a relatively meaningless game to end the round-robin portion of the playoffs. The Tigres will take on los Cardenales de Lara on Wednesday for the start of the best of seven series final for the Venezuelan Winter League Championship.

Albero Gonzalez (NY Yankees) lead off for the Bravos with a single to start the game. William Bergolla (San Francisco) doubled him. Following a fly out to Frank Diaz (Washington), Rene Reyes (F/A) reached on a fielding error by Miguel Cabrera (Detroit) that also allowed Bergolla to score. One out later back-to-back singles by Raul Escalona (Florida) and Ray Olmedo (Toronto) allowed Reys to cross the plate, giving the Braves a 3-0 lead.

They would pick up another run in the second in nearly the same way: a single to Gonzalez and a double to Bergolla. This time however, a sac-fly by Diaz was need to plate the run.

Margarita extended their lead in the top of the third with Julio Cordido (San Francisco) finding his way onto base with a ground ball single, then coming home on J.C. Boscan's (Atlanta) double.

The Tigers finally found their scoring stroke in the bottom of the fourth when Cabrera took advantage of a fielding error by Olmedo to get on base. Martin Prado (Atlanta) went yard over the left field wall to give the Tigres their first 2 runs.

Luis Maza (LA Dodgers) singled in the bottom of the 5th and came home on a Ronny Cedeno (Chicago Cubs) double. Singles by Raul Chavez (Pittsburgh) and Alberto Callaspo (Kansas City) saw Cedeno home to make it 5-4 Braves.

Prado singled to put the tying run on base in the bottom of the sixth. Hector Gimenez (Tampa Bay) drew a walk and Maza moved the pair on a sac bunt. Cedeno was then intentionally walked. Chavez singled out to right to bring in Prado to even the game, then Callaspo singled to center to score Gimenez for the go ahead run.

Horacio Estrada (F/A) took the start for the Tigres allowing 5 runs (3 earned) on 11 hits while striking out 5. Jason Karnuth (Detroit) picked up the win, pitching 2.2 innings of relief, allowing 1 hits and 1 walk while striking out 2.

Cabrera went 1-for-4 in game with a run, Maza as 1-for-3 with a run and former Miracle Luis Rodriguez (San Diego) was 0-for-3.

The Tigers travel to Lara for the first two games of the finals on Wednesday and Thursday, both set for 7:30 PM AST. They return home on Friday, and then will play Sunday and Monday (if necessary) at Jose Perez Colmenarez Stadium before returning to Lara for the final two games of the series.

Jesus Silva (Florida) and Juan Carlos Gutierrez (Arizona) joined the Tigres pitching staff and will start the 2nd and 3rd games of the playoffs respectively. Silva had been pitching for los Bravos in the playoffs while Gutierrez joins the team from La Guaira.

Tigres de Aragua

The Twins exchanged figures with outfielder Michael Cuddyer and reliever Matt Guerrier on Friday in preperation of upcoming arbitration. Cuddyer is looking for $6.2 million for the upcoming season, $1.5 more than the Twins have offered him. Guerrier is seeking $1.15 million while the Twins are offering $750K.

Cuddyer and Guerrier are the last two players eligible for arbitration. The Twins settled with Juan Rincon on Friday, signing him a $2.475 million one-year deal.

There has been some speculation that Ron Gardenhire is thinking of playing Cuddyer in centerfield to replace Torii Hunter. My personal feeling is irregardless of what the Twins say, we'll see Delmon Young in center field by the end of the 2008 season.

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