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Baseball Mexico

by Bruce Baskin
June 20, 2018 - Mexican League (ML)

SULTANES TO SERIE DEL REY; LMB SOUTH DOWN TO SEVENTH GAME

Leo German launched a two-run homer off Tijuana reliever Daniel Moskos in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Monterrey a 6-5 lead they'd hold until the end of Saturday's Mexican League North Division championship series Game Six to win the set, 4 games to 2. Thus, the Sultanes advance to the Serie del Rey for the first time since 2013 by knocking off the defending champs in the third consecutive LMB North title showdown between the two teams. Chris Roberson also homered for Monterrey while Corey Brown and Roberto Lopez went deep for the Toros as setup man Nick Struck won his third game of the series. A full house of 21,909 were on hand for the third straight sellout at Estadio Monterrey in a well-attended LMB North finals, during which 113,732 aficionados attended the six encounters for an average of 18,955 per opening.

The Toros had taken a 2-games-to-1 LMB North title series lead last Tuesday with an 11-5 win at home as Rodriguez' bases-full triple keyed a six-run fourth inning for the (Pedro) Mere Men of Tijuana. The Sultanes came back to take the next two contests at Estadio Gasmart: a 4-3 Wednesday win when Chris Roberson doubled and came in on Guty Murillo's single in the top of the eleventh followed by a 6-5 Thursday triumph in which Murillo came in from third on Yadir Drake's bases-loaded single in the top of the ninth to score the tiebreaker.

The LMB South championships will go to a seventh and deciding game on Monday night. Quintana Roo took a 2-games-to-1 lead in the set last Tuesday by beating Yucatan, 6-1, in Cancun as Javier Solano gave up one run on five hits before being replaced by Derrick Loop with two out in the eighth. The Leones responded Wednesday night with a 6-2 victory over the hosts as starter Yoanner Negrin went seven strong innings, allowing one run on three hits.

Then the rains came and washed out Game Five both Thursday and Friday nights and delaying Saturday's contest by nearly seven hours. The Leones won that one, 8-6, in a game marked by two big innings as the Tigres scored five times in the bottom of the fifth to break a scoreless tie before Yucatan posted six runs in the seventh as Everth Cabrera doubled in two runners and later scored on Art Charles' two-bagger.

The Tigres roared back to take Sunday's Game Six, 5-2, thanks to a three-run homer by Alonzo Harris in the top of the sixth off Yucatan reliever Jose Manuel Lopez to break a 2-2 deadlock. Harris, who hit .301 with eight homers for Quintana Roo in 48 games, is a former Mets prospect who spent two years playing indy ball with St. Paul before batting .315 with 23 homers for York in the Atlantic League last summer. Venerable Pablo Ortega took the 2-2 tie into the fifth before he was replaced by Javier Solano with two out and the bases loaded. Solano induced Leo Heras to ground out sharply to C.J. Retherford at first to end the threat and went on to hurl three more scoreless frames to take the win in relief. Although it was Lopez who gave up Harris' homer, predecessor Carlos Frias was charged with the go-ahead run and thus the loss, his second in the series.

Game Seven is set for Monday night at 7PM Eastern in Merida's Parque Kukulcan. The game will be streamed live at the LMB En Vivo page on Facebook. En espanol, por supuesto.

LMB ALL-STAR GAME ROSTERS RELEASED

A total of 56 players will converge on Merida at the end of June for the annual Mexican League All-Star Game, set for June 29 at Parque Kukulcan, the 14,917-seat home of the Yucatan Leones. The game had originally been scheduled for Mexico City's Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu but was shifted to Yucatan earlier this year when construction delays on the Diablos Rojos' new ballpark pushed the facility's opening back to the 2019 season.

Both the North (managed by first-place finisher Monterrey's skipper Roberto Kelly) and South (headed by Yucatan helmsman Roberto Vizcarra) division rosters will include 28 players apiece, half of them pitchers. Kelly will have Monclova's wins and strikeouts champ Josh "The Mayor" Lowey, wins co-leader Carlos Hernandez of Tijuana and Jorge Reyes, who was the Liga's ERA leader for Kelly's Sultanes, to choose from for the North's starting pitcher. Vizcarra has plenty of starting material on the South roster, including Quintana Roo's Henderson Alvarez, Yucatan ace Yoanner Negrin and Octavio Acosta of Mexico City.

There are even a pair of sentimental choice in Campeche's Francisco Campos and Pablo Ortega of Quintana Roo. Campos, 45, is in his 24th season pitching for the perennial also-ran Piratas, spending some time on loan with Monterrey in 2006. While his 2-2 record and 5.16 ERA are so-so at best, an All-Star Game without the beloved Pancho Ponches would be almost unthinkable (this is his 14th). The venerable Ortega (in his 20th LMB campaign at age 41) has shown he can still pitch by going 3-2 with a 3.13 ERA in seven regular season starts for the Tigres and turning in a complete game win over Mexico City in the LMB South semifinals earlier this month.

A day ahead of the All-Star Game, there'll be the ubiquitous Home Run Derby plus a new competition featuring double play combinations. The Home Run Derby will feature three longballists from each division: Aguascalientes' Francisco Perez, Ricky Alvarez of Monterrey and Monclova's MVP Jesse Castillo will represent the North against Puebla's Daric Barton, Luis Juarez of Yucatan and former MLB shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, now with Oaxaca. The Double Play Derby will feature five keystone combinations being timed on turning two outs: Moises Gutierrez and Javier Salazar (Durango), Ramiro Pena and Ramon Rios (Monterrey), Maxwell Leon and Isaac Rodriguez (Tijuana), Rolando Acosta and Carlos Gastelum (Quintana Roo) plus Walter Ibarra and Everth Cabrera (Yucatan).

Here are the rosters for both All-Star squads:

NORTH DIVISION

Pitchers (14) - Anthony Carter (AGS), Linder Castro (AGS), Maikel Cleto (LAG), Tiago Da Silva (DUR), Carlos Hernandez (TIJ), Josh Lowey (MVA), Josh Lueke (MVA), Rafael Martin (SAL), Nestor Molina (LAR), Wirfin Obispo (MTY), Roman Pena (LAG), Jorge Reyes (MTY), Marco Tovar (MTY), Raul Valdes (MTY).

Catchers (2) - Jose Felix (MVA), Isidro Pena (DUR).

Infielders (7) - Jorge Cantu (TIJ), Jesse Castillo (MVA), Dustin Geiger (DUR), Agustin Murillo (MTY), Ramiro Pena (MTY), Isaac Rodriguez (TIJ), Saul Soto (AGS).

Outfielders (5) - Yadir Drake (MTY), Desmond Jennings (MVA), Maxwell Leon (TIJ), Enrique Osorio (LAR), Chris Roberson (MTY).

Manager - Roberto Kelly (MTY).

SOUTH DIVISION

Pitchers (14) - Octavio Acosta (MXC), Henderson Alvarez (QR), Francisco Campos (CAM), Dustin Crenshaw (LEON), Barry Enright (QR), Adrian Garza (TAB), Chad Gaudin (YUC), Arcenio Leon (OAX), Dallas Martinez (LEON), Yoanner Negrin (YUC), Juan Pablo Oramas (TAB), Pablo Ortega (QR), Pedro Rodriguez (CAM), Jose Samayoa (YUC).

Catchers (2) - Sebastian Valle (YUC), Hans Wilson (TAB).

Infielders (6) - Emmanuel Avila (MXC), Daric Barton (PUE), Yuniesky Betancourt (OAX), Alberto Carreon (PUE), Carlos Gastelum (QR), Alexei Ramirez (MXC).

Outfielders (6) - Carlos Figueroa (MXC), Leo Heras (YUC), Luis Juarez (YUC), Junior Lake (LEON), Ivan Terrazas (MXC), Jesus Valdez (YUC).

Manager - Roberto Vizcarra (YUC).

LOS MOCHIS DEALS VALLE TO MAZATLAN FOR QUIROZ

The Los Mochis Caneros and Mazatlan Venados have swung a major Mexican Pacific League offseason trade, with the Caneros sending catcher Sebastian Valle to the Mazatlan Venados for second baseman Esteban Quiroz. In the 26-year-old Quiroz, Los Mochis brings in one of the top second sackers in a country with several good ones (including Manny Rodriguez, Isaac Rodriguez and Ramon Rios), a nice blend of batting with extra-base power and good range afield. In the 28-year-old Valle, Mazatlan gets one of Mexico's top catchers, a one-time Phillies prospect featuring solid defensive skills and some pop at the plate, if not necessarily a high average.

Both are members of the Mexican National Team who've had their careers harmed by injuries. Quiroz was placed on the 7-day DL April 30 by the Boston Red Sox with a leg injury suffered when the 5'7" sparkplug nicknamed "El Pony" was hitting .302 with 4 homers and 13 ribbies over 15 games for AA Portland. He had .264/0/21 numbers in 59 games for Mazatlan last winter. Valle hit just .203 with 6 homers in 36 games for Yucatan of the Mexican League this Spring (he's at .280 with 2 longballs and 6 RBIs in seven playoff games for the Leones) after a .184/6/12 LMP season with Los Mochis in 2017-18

Veteran second baseman Paul Leon is expected to take Quiroz' place in new Venados manager Joe Alvarez' everyday lineup while former Padres farmhand Ricardo Valenzuela will battle 32-year-old Humberto Sosa (a current teammate of Valle in Yucatan) for the Yaquis catching job next winter.


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Mexican League Stories from June 20, 2018


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