Texas Winter League Update
Harlingen South grad Danny Gidora fanned former American League Most Valuable Player Jose Canseco three times while pitching the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings to a 4-3 victory against the McAllen Thunder Friday afternoon at Harlingen Field.
The victory, combined with the Brownsville Stars' 5-5 tie with the Edinburg Roadrunners in the second game of the day, clinched the regular season Texas Winter League championship for the WhiteWings (9-4-2). The first TWL playoffs begin on Tuesday.
Gidora (1-0) scattered 10 hits in his 7-inning complete game while walking none and striking out seven.
But none of those strikeouts were more dramatic than the final out, in which Gidora fanned Canseco, the Thunder's designated hitter.
"Honestly, I heard his name called and then I just saw the catcher," Gidora said. "I threw him a change-up, because he was way out in front at the end of the second at bat."
"I felt good but my bat speed and timing is off," said a good-natured Canseco, 48, who is playing competitive baseball for the first time since playing for the Worcester Tornadoes in the CanAm League last summer.
Offensively the star of the day was Vince Coleman Jr., who drove in all of the WhiteWings' runs. Batting against Thunder (4-10-1) starter Leo Madrid in the bottom of the third he drove in Cody Bishop with a two out single to left, then tripled down the third base line with the bases loaded in the fifth inning to give the WhiteWings a 4-2 advantage off the lefthander.
The Thunder came back the following inning when Derrick Pyles doubled to right and Albert Carpen pulled a long single to right to score the Thunder right fielder to lead off the inning against Gidora. But the 6-4 right-hander settled down and actually recorded assists of all of the remaining outs of the innings on two groundouts and a bunt by Jeff Allen with runners at the corners and one out that could not produce the tying run.
Hiroki Itakura led off the seventh with a single, but Gidora, 24, then coerced Daiki Komori to hit a ground ball to second baseman Curtis Camilli that was turned into a classic 4-6-3 double play immediately before Canseco came to hit.
"Today I was trying to get my velocity up and get my fastball going," Gidora said. "But my mindset is not on stats; just being efficient. As long as it's an out I'm satisfied."
Madrid (0-2) took the loss for the Thunder, who have not won any of their last eight games. The lefty from La Puente, California allowed just three hits, walks, and earned runs while striking out five.
It was a complete reversal of Madrid's outing last Sunday against the WhiteWings, in which he allowed 11 runs in two innings in a 24-1 loss.
"I left the ball down in the zone and was not too cute with the ball," said Madrid. "Plus having [Allen] back there makes all the difference."
STARS 5 ROADRUNNERS 5
In the second game of the doubleheader, the focus seemed to be even more on Jose Canseco as he pitched five innings for the Brownsville Stars and again made the final out of the game as the Stars and Roadrunners played to a 5-5 tie.
Canseco, using primarily knuckleballs from an efficient pitching motion from the stretch, gave up six hits in his five inning start while walking three, hitting four batters, and striking out two while allowing three earned runs.
After Vince Coleman Jr. hit a triple to center field to drive in two runs to highlight a 3-run first inning and the Roadrunners (7-7-1) scored again in the top of the second, Canseco was able to get out of one-out, bases loaded jams in both the fourth and fifth innings to keep the game close.
But if the former American League outfielder was a bit sloppy on the mound, opposing right-hander Selby Brummett was neat, retiring the first 10 Stars he faced until Austin Fraker snuck a triple to right field just inside the foul line. Fraker would then score on a Justin Juneau single to make the score 4-1.
With the playoffs beginning on Tuesday, Roadrunners manager Brooks Carey then removed Brummett after four innings for the starter's boyhood chum from Salem, Utah, fellow right-hander Tyler Hanks.
Hanks allowed one run when the Stars' (6-6-3) Masa Takahata and Keigo Miyagi executed a double steal of second base and home and Austin Newell drove in Takahata with a long triple to right in the fifth.
After the Roadrunners scored an unearned run off reliever Jumpei Hayashi in the sixth, it appeared the game was firmly in the Roadrunners command.
But with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, shortstop Thomas Schull dropped Newell's easy popup, allowing Alex Foltz to score. Fraker then collected a perfect hit and run double up the middle that scored Newell from first to tie the score, 5-5.
Either playing the percentages or realizing the drama that would come about from such a move, Carey then ordered the left-handed hitting Juneau walked intentionally to face the right-handed hitting Canseco.
Canseco had collected a single in his previous at bat, but this time could only hit a long fly ball that Ginjira Fujiwara caught in right field for the final out.
Canseco would finish 1 for 8 in the two games, striking out four times, but hitting the ball sharply when he would make contact in the second game.
"My arm felt decent," said Canseco, who pitched 11 games two years ago for the Yuma Scorpions of the North American Baseball League. "But I fouled a ton of pitches I shouldn't have because I haven't played."
"I love to play and stay in shape."
Canseco also hinted at a potential future partnership with an independent minor league, whether it be continuing to play, manage, or possibly working as a league or team executive.
The Stars and Thunder will play on Saturday at 11 a.m., while the WhiteWings and Roadrunners play in the nightcap. Canseco will continue to appear in the games.
CORRECTION- It was incorrectly reported that Roadrunners right fielder Ginjiro Fujiwara had been traded to McAllen yesterday. He has not.
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United League Baseball Stories from February 22, 2013
- Texas Winter League Update - Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings
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