by Bruce Baskin
June 7, 2016 - Mexican League (ML)
While there's rarely been much surprise among followers of Mexican baseball when they see the stat line HR-Amador in a box score in recent years, there may have been a raised eyebrow or two among observers reading the box for Sunday's Mexican League All-Star Game in front of 23,421 fans at Estadio Monterrey.
Yes, that WAS an Amador who went yard for the North in the seventh inning off the South's Brazilian-born reliever Tiago da Silva, representing the Carmen Delfines. However, it wasn't 2015 Liga MVP Japhet Amador (who's in Japan this year), but Monclova infielder Jose Amador who launched da Silva's third pitch of the game over the wall in left-center field for a three-run homer as the North went on to clobber the South, 8-4, in a contest that lasted just 2 hours, 49 minutes despite a total of 23 pitchers trotting out to the mound for the two teams.
Jose Amador (pictured above) has done a lot to come out from under Japhet's considerable shadow since the latter signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles during the offseason. First, Jose (no relation) won Baseball Mexico's MVP award for last winter's Mexican Pacific League season (leading the MexPac with 11 homers and 39 RBI's and batting .323) prior to embarking on an LMB season during which he's hit .281 with 12 homers in 53 games for the North-leading Acereros. His Sunday bomb was enough to get him voted the All-Star Game MVP by media.
The North went up 4-0 early with four second-inning runs highlighted by a two-run homer by Juan Apodaca (Tijuana) off former big leaguer Travis Blackley (Puebla). The South came back in the fifth off when LMP batting champion Jesus Valdez (Yucatan) socked solo homer off Hector Daniel Rodriguez (Saltillo), then plated two more in the top of the seventh when Jose Rodriguez (Puebla) whacked a two-run homer off Tony Pena, Junior (Laguna) to make it a one-run game.
The North had just gone ahead 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh when a pop single to center by Agustin Murillo (Monterrey) off Josh Judy (Quintana Roo) brought in Walter Ibarra (Monterrey) from third. At that point, South manager Roberto Vizcarra pulled Judy for da Silva to pitch to Amador with Ibarra standing on first base and Zoilo Almonte (Monterrey) on second. Da Silva seemed a worthy choice, bringing a 1.86 ERA with 15 saves in 16 opportunities for the 19-35 Dolphins heading into the break, but Amador changed that in one swing to extend the North lead from one to four runs in bringing the score to 7-3. Each team scored once the rest of the way, but this one was decided by Amador.
Josh Lowey (Monclova) had been on the mound when the North scored their first four runs in the second and was awarded the win while Orlando Lara (Puebla), who was yanked by Vizcarra so Blackley could pitch to Apodaca, was tagged with the loss. Ibarra and Ivan Terrazas (Mexico City) each had three hits for the North, including a double for Terrazas, while Valdez had three safeties for the South.
Before the All-Star Game, Quintana Roo third baseman Alex Liddi outlasted Tigres teammate Esteban Quiroz, 4-3, in the final round to take top honors in the Home Run Derby. Liddi, a fomer Mariners prospect who has represented Italy in the World Baseball Classic, launched 12 homers over three rounds, some of them tape-measure shots that cleared the outfield fences easily.