Photo courtesy of los Tigres de Aragua
Aragua 9 at Bravos 0
W: R. Garcia (1-0, 2.63); L: F. Paulino (1-2, 3.52)
Thursday proved a different story for los Tigres de Aragua as Rosman Garcia (Baltimore) and three relievers combined to blank los Bravos de Margarita 9-0.
The Tigres wasted no time getting onto the scoreboard. Alberto Callaspo (Kansas City) and Luis Rodriguez (San Diego) lead off with walks. A passed ball by catcher J.C. Boscan (Atlanta - formerly Cinci) moved the pair which left room for Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera to be intentionally walked, loading the bases. Hector Gimenez (Tampa Bay) then singled out to right to score the first two runners.
In the top of the 4th inning, Luis Maza (LA Dodgers) singled followed by a Ronny Cedeno (Chicago Cubs) walk. A sac bunt by Alex Delgado (F/A) moved the pair. Callaspo singled to plate Maza and a sac-fly by L-Rod brought in Cedeno.
With one out in the fifth, Gimenez and Alex Romero (Arizona) both drew walks, then moved on a wild pitch by Margarita's Steve Kent (Atlanta). A single by Maza saw Gimenez score, but Romero would be taken out at the plate as he tried to hustle home as well. A Cedeno grounder to right plated Maza, giving the Cats a 6-0 lead.
Callaspo again walked to start out the top of the sixth. L-Rod singled, and another passed ball by Boscan moved the pair. Edgardo Alfonzo (Texas) then walked to load the bases. A sac fly by Gimenez scored Callaspo and a wild pitch from Malvin Vasquez (Pittsburgh) saw Rodriguez home.
With a big lead, the Cats made some offensive changes in the 8th. Jose Martinez (St Louis) replaced L-Rod and drew a walk. Ramon Castro (F/A) came in for Cabrera and walked as well. Gimenez then walked to load the bases and a single by Romero would drive in the final run of the game.
L-Rod was 1-for-2 with a walk, 2 runs and an RBI. He was returning to the line up following some time off for a sore back. Maza was 3-for-5 with 2 runs and 1 RBI and Romero was 1-for-4 with a walk and 1 RBI. Cabrera, who is the subject of a new article on the Tigres website, was 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk.
Former Miracle Victor Moreno (Baltimore) pitched the ninth inning, striking out 2.
The win puts the Cats in a tie with los Cardenales de Lara, who lost Thursday, for first place in the round-robin playoffs.
Aragua plays a pair of games Friday and Saturday against Caribes de Anzoategui. They have Sunday off, and face Margarita again on Monday.
Tigres de Aragau
Former Miracle Jason Kubel agreed to a $1.3 million one-year contract on Thursday, thereby avoiding arbitration with the Twins. Kubel hit .273 with 13 homers and 65 RBIs in 128 games last season. He has been sidelined by knee injuries and the Twins are hoping he can prove that he can stay health this season.
He showed promise toward the end of last season, finishing the year by hitting .323 in his final 10 games. He is expected to split time in left flield with newly acquired Delmon Young, as well as serve a left-handed designed hitter off the bench.
The Twins also agreed to a one-year $7.4 million deal with Justin Morneau, avoid arbitration with the 2006 MVP. Morneau hit .271 with 31 home runs and 111 RBIs last season, a drop of 50 points from the .321 he hit in 2006.
Minnesota now has three arbitration-eligible players remaining that they need to settle with -- outfielder Michael Cuddyer and right-handers Juan Rincon and Matt Guerrier. Arbitration figures are due to be released later today, which should reveal how close the team is to signing these players.