Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tigres take Game 1 of final series

Photo courtesy of los Tigres de Aragua

Aragua 4 at Lara 3

W: J. Santiago (4-1, 2.70); L: G. Carrara (1-2, 5.75); SV: F. Butto (5)
HR: ARA: A. Romero (2).

Los Tigres de Aragua took a 4-3 win Wednesday in game one of the best-of-seven Venezuelan Winter League final series at Antonio Herrera Gutierrez of Barquisimeto Stadium. Jose Santiago (NY Mets) took the start, limiting los Cardenales de Lara to 1 run on 4 hits over 5.2 innings while striking out 3.

The Cats took a 2 run lead in the second inning when Martin Prado (Atlanta) and Alex Romero (Arizona) hit back-to-back fly ball singles with one out. Following a fly out to Ronny Cedeno (Chicago Cubs), Raul Chavez (Pittsburgh) doubled in the pair with a line drive out to left field.

Lara got on the board in the bottom of the 4th, when Robert Perez (F/A) singled his way onto base, then moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. A ground out by Selwyn Langaigne (F/A) saw him to 3rd, while a fly ball single to center off the stick of Jose Lopez (Seattle) served to plate him.

Aragua added two more runs in the top of the 6th when Prado singled, then came home when Romero, a former Fort Myers Miracle, went yard over the right field fence.

The Red Birds would add a second run in the bottom of the seventh when Lopez doubled off Victor Moreno (Baltimore), moved to 3rd on a Tomas Perez (Houston) fly ball single, then came home when Wiki Gonzalez (Chicago White Sox) ground into a double play.

They would stage a late rally in the 9th with Lopez again doubling with one out. Following a strike out by Perez, he then scored on a Gonzalez single. Despite a double by Guillermo Rodriguez (San Francisco) and a walk to Luis Ugueto (F/A) that loaded the bases, Marco Scutaro (Toronto) ground into a force out that ended the game with the Cats on top.

The two teams rematch tonight, at 7:30 PM AST.

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera was 2-for-4 for the Cats with a walk, but did not figure into the scoring, Romero was 2-for-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBI's. Luis Rodriguez (San Diego), who played last season in AAA Rochester, was 0-for-4 with a walk. Ugueto, who split time between Fort Myers and Rochester in 2007, was 1-for-4 with a walk for the Cardenales.

Juan Rincon (Minnesota) pitched .2 innings in the ninth for Lara, striking out 2.

Tigres de Aragua

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.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Aragua down Caribes, 8-2

Corey Baily
Photo courtesy of los Tigres de Aragua

Aragua 8 at Caribes 2

W: C. Bailey (2-0, 3.52); L: E. Aponte (0-1, 7.94)
HR: ARA: R. Castro (1), J. Martinez (1). ORI: N. Romero (1).

Cory Bailey (Chicago Cubs) limited Caribes de Anzoategui to 5 hits and 1 walk over 5 innings on Saturday, striking out 7, while the Tigres' offense remained in action, picking up 8 runs on 8 hits.

Hector Gimenez (Tampa Bay) doubled to lead off in the 2nd inning. Following a Willie Romero (F/A) ground out, Alex Nunez's (F/A) ground ball brought him in for the first Tigre run. A double by Ramon Castro (F/A) and a sac fly by Jose Martinez (St. Louis) brought in Nunez to give Aragua an early 2-0 lead.

The Tigres pounced again in the 2nd when Gimenez walked. 2 outs later, Castro went yard over the right field wall to make it 4-0, Cats.

with 2 outs in the 8th, Nunez singled and Castro walked, before Martinez blasted a ball over the left field wall for three more runs.

The Caribes only 2 runs came in the bottom of the inning when Luis Landaeta (F/A) doubled, and Niuman Romero homered off Aragua's Ivan Maldanado (NY Mets).

Luis Maza (LA Dodgers) walked, then took advantage of some sloppy fielding by Caribe's Jonel Pachaeco (Pittsburgh) in center to make his way home for the final Aragua insurance run.

Oswaldo Sosa (Minnesota) pitched .2 innings of relief, allowing 1 hit. Former Miracle Victor Moreno (Baltimore) worked the final inning, allowing 1 hit and striking out 2.

Maza was 0-for-4 in the contest with a walk and a run, and Alex Romero (Arizona) was 0-for-5. Most of the Tigres big guns were given the game off, after security a spot on the finals Friday.

Tigres de Aragua

Juan Rincon pitched 3.1 innings for the Cardenales Saturday, allowing 1 hit and 1 walk and striking out 2. Lara defeated La Guaira 5-4. Former Miracle Luis Ugueto (F/A) was 1-for-6 with a walk in contest.

The win puts the Cardenales into the finals with the Tigres. The round robin tournament finish up Monday, with Aragua taking on Margarita.

Tigres pound Caribes with 20 hits, 13 runs

Miguel Cabrera
Photo courtesy of los Tigres de Aragua

Aragua 13 at Caribes 2

W: J. Santiago (3-1, 3.00); L: A. Herrera (0-2, 13.50)
HR: ARA: R. Cedeno (2).

Los Tigres de Aragua pounded out 20 hits for 13 runs in route to a blow out victory over Caribes de Anzoategui Friday.

Jose Santiago (NY Mets) picked up his 3rd post season win, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits and 1 walk over 6 innings of work while striking out 3.

With two outs in the first inning, Edgardo Alfonzo (Texas) doubled out to center. Miguel Cabrera (Detroit) singled him in to the give the Cats an early lead.

They added to it in the bottom of the second when Martin Parda (Atlanta) singled and Luis Maza (LA Dodgers) doubled. A sac-fly by Ronny Cedeno (Chicago Cubs) brought in Prado, and a similar hit by Raul Chavez (Pittsburgh) plated Maza.

The Cats would pick up one more in the top of the fourth inning when Cedeno homered over the left field wall.

A double by Rico Washington (St Louis) opened the bottom of the inning for Caribes. Following a ground out to Jose Castillo (Florida), Javier Brito (Arizona) and Jonathan Herrera (Colorado) hit back-to-back singles to give Caribes one run on the board. Alex Requena (F/A) drove in the 2nd run one out later, with a ground ball to center.

Alfonzo and Cabrera both singled in the top of the 5th, followed up by a walk to Willie Romero (F/A) to load the bases. A wild pitch by Alex Herrara (F/A) brought in Alfonzo, while a single plated Cabrera and Romero. A change in pitchers, to Oscar Montero (F/A), resulted in a wild pitch that moved Prado to 2nd. He progressed to 3rd on a Maza ground out, then found his way home on a Chavez single.

The Cats gave the Caribes a break for a couple innings, before turning on the scoring machine in the 8th inning. Alberto Callaspo (Kansas City) singled. Luis Rodriguez (San Diego) reached on a force attempt, and then Alfonzo singled to load the bags. A single by Cabrera brought in one and a double by Prado saw two more runs come home. Maza's single to center plated to Cabrera to make it 12-2, Aragua.

They icing on the cake came in the bottom of the 9th, when Rodriguez would be hit by a pitch to put him on base. Alfonzo singled and one out later, Romero would bring him in with a grounder to left.

Cabrera was 5-for-5 in the contest with 2 runs and 2 RBIs. Rodriguez was 0-for-4 with 2 runs and a walk, Maza ws 2-for-5 with 1 run and 1 RBI.

Yohan Pino (Minnesota) worked 2 innings in relief, allowing 1 hit and striking out 1.

The two teams rematch on Saturday. Aragua is idle on Sunday.

Lara was idle on Friday, so the win put the Tigres .5 games ahead of them in the standings. This put the Cats in the finals for their sixth consecutive season.

"This is the first step of our goal, we are going for the title, it is time to celebrate," said Cabrera as the champagne was uncorked.