Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tigres regain control of series

Finals vs. Lara
Photo courtesy of los Tigres de Aragua

Lara 4 at Aragua 5 (13 innings)

W: R. Garcia (2-0, 2.12); L: R. Luque (0-1, 1.42)
HR: None.

It took 13 innings, but los Tigres de Aragua managed to take back the lead in the best-of-seven Championship series with a 5-4 win over los Cardenales de Lara Friday at Jose Perez Colmenarez Stadium.

The Cats opened up the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Back-to-back singles by Alberto Callaspo (Kansas City) and Luis Rodriguez (San Diego) got things rolling. A fly ball single to right by Edgardo Alfonzo (Texas) plated Callaspo, while Rodriguez came home during Miguel Cabrera's (Detroit) double play ground out.

Lara took one back in the top of the 4th when Robert Perez (F/A) and Selwyn Langaigne (F/A) both doubled. Perez would only go to 3rd on Langaigne's fly ball, but would score when Jose Lopez (Seattle) reached on a fielder's choice.

Aragua would add to their lead in the bottom of the sixth when Cabrera lead off with a walk, then moved to second on a wild pitch by Marcos Carvajal (Florida). Martin Prado (Altanta) would also walk before Lara brought Ivan Blanco (Seattle) onto the mound. Willie Romero (F/A) would ground into a double play which took Cabrera out at 3rd, but a Luis Maza (LA Dodgers) single would bring in Prado.

The top of the 8th proved big for Lara, as Guillermo Rodriguez (San Francisco) singled and Cesar Izturis (St Louis) reached on a force attempt when Cabrera miss-threw the ball. Luis Ugueto hit into a sac bunt that brought in G-Rod, but a second throwing error by Cabrera saw Ugueto safe at first. Frank Butto (F/A) would come onto the mound for the Cats to replace Yohan Pino (Minnesota) who would end up being charged for 3 runs on 1 hit while striking out 1 in .2 innings worth of work. Marco Scutaro (Toronto) would be walked, and Adam Jones (Seattle) would be hit by a pitch to force in Izturis. After Perez struck out swinging, Langaigne was walked to bring in Ugueto. Victor Moreno (Baltimore) would be called to the mound to get the final to outs in the inning, but the Cardenales had taken the lead.

Los Tigres answered back though in the bottom of the ninth when Maza singled, moved to 2nd on a sac-bunt by Ronny Cedeno (Chicago Cubs), and scored on Hector Gimenez's (Tampa Bay) fly ball single to right, tying the game and forcing the contest into extra innings.

In the bottom of the 13th, with one out, Cedeno would double, and Gimenez would be intentionally walked. Callaspo would single to center to score Cedeno, breaking the deadlock and handing the victory to the Cats.

Juan Rincon (Minnesota) pitched one inning for the Red Birds, allowing 1 hit and striking out 1.

The series rests on Saturday and the two teams will play Sunday and Monday in Aragua before the series reverts back to Lara (if necessary).

Tigres de Aragua

Pino developed a case of acute bronchitis and was removed from the roster following the game. Reports say he should be available to the team on Tuesday again.

The Twins locked up Justin Morneau with a six-year, $80 million deal Friday, the longest and richest contract in franchise history. The Twins also signed right fielder Michael Cuddyer to a 3-year, $24 million deal with a club option for 2011. Meanwhile, the Pioneer Press is reporting that the trade involving Johan Santana is likely to occur within the next 10 days. Right now it appears the Mets are the fore-runners in the Santana sweepstakes.

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