Andy Dirks powers Escogido Leones
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The Dominican Republic's Escogido Leones, seeking to become the first team since 2005 to win the Caribbean Series at home, took advantage of three errors by Puerto Rico's Mayaguez Indios and gained a 6-1 victory to remain undefeated in the tournament, which pits the champion clubs from the Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico and Dominican winter leagues.
The game, delayed by more than two hours due to a power outage, started as a classic pitcher's duel as Mayaguez and Escogido starters, Bobby Livingston (0-1) and Raul Valdez (1-0), respectively, traded zeros for three innings until Escogido struck first in the top of the fourth.
Andy Dirks led off the inning by drawing a walk and went from first to third on a single by Erick Almonte. Dirks reached home on a single by Julio Lugo, which advanced Almonte to third. Dennis Phipps' grounder to second allowed Almonte to score to give the Dominicans a 2-0 lead.
Mayaguez answered in the bottom of the fourth as Puerto Rican League MVP Jorge Padilla drove home Luis Figueroa, who had reached on an error by Escogido shortstop Pedro Florimon and reached third after Edgar Baez walked and a Jeffrey Dominguez sacrifice, with a single.
Mexico's repeat dreams still alive
In the early game, Carlos Valencia's double in the sixth inning drove in two runs to lead the defending Caribbean Series champions Ciudad Obregon Yaquis, looking to become the first team in 14 years to win back-to-back titles, to a victory over Venezuela's Aragua Tigres -- a painful loss for the Venezuelan champion whose hopes of a title fizzled with Escogido's win over Mayaguez.
The Yaquis got a solid outing from Rolando Valdez (1-0), who went seven innings and spread out four hits and yielded two unearned runs to earn the win.
It seemed in the early going that Aragua would have the upper hand as it took advantage of a throwing error by Valdez to get a 1-0 lead in the first inning. With two outs, Cesar Suarez dropped a bunt, but Valdez sailed his throw over Obregon first baseman Iker Franco to reach second and Adonis Garcia, who is hitting .500 for the Series, followed with an RBI single.
Obregon answered in the bottom of the fifth as Franco hit a booming two-out double off Aragua starter Brian Sweeney (0-1) and scored on a single by Sergio Contreras.
Aragua came right back in the top of the sixth when Miguel Rojas reached on an error by Obregon shortstop Alex Amezaga which allowed Guillermo Rodriguez, who had singled to open the inning, to reach third. Rodriguez scored two pitches later on fielder's choice off the bat of Suarez.
Obregon's game-deciding rally came in the bottom of the seventh as the Yaquis took advantage of back-to-back-to-back errors. Chris Roberson opened the inning by dropping a bunt which was mishandled by first baseman Hector Gimenez. Amenzaga followed with another bunt but the throw to second was bobbled by Jose Rodriguez, allowing Roberson to reach third.
Veteran Karim Garcia drove Roberson home to tie the game with a fielder's choice and then Barbaro Canizares' ground ball was mishandled by Aragua third baseman Luis Maza. Douglas Clark walked off reliever Pedro Rodriguez, setting the stage for Valencia's double to close the scoring at 4-2.
Caribbean Series notesNew York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano threw out the first pitch in the game between his native Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico saying that, "I wish I could be out there playing." ... Dirks has scored or driven in a run in each of Escogido's first three games. ... Cleveland Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez received a standing ovation from the crowd when he was introduced by the PA announcer.
Javier Maymi covers baseball for ESPNdeportes.com.