Caribbean Series

The Serie del Caribe is coming up: 2-7 February. And this year it is on XM Radio!

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A real head-liner of a finish!

Or, actually, a head-popup. But I’m getting a-head of myself…

Venezuela completed its sweep of the Caribbean Series by beating the Dominican Republic, 5-4. It was a great game, with numerous spectacular defensive plays, which makes it all the more ironic that several of the game’s runs scored because of errors and the game ended on a really bad fielding play.

The D.R. had led the entire game, from the first inning until one out in the ninth. Then Ramon Hernandez, who had singled to start the ninth off Jorge Sosa and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Franklin Gutierrez, came around to score on a single by Alex Gonzalez.

Next up was Henry Blanco, who you might say hit a double-header to win the game. Or should that be a header-double? It was actually a routine popup to shallow left. Erick Aybar, the Dominican shortstop (and top Angel prospect) went back on the ball and lost it. Really lost it. The ball bounced off his head, away from the left fielder, and rolled all the way to the warning track. Gonzalez thus scored the winning run and the Leones were the champs.

From Yahoo, here’s the play:
Aybar's header

Cap tip (so to speak): Rev. More from MLB.com; I tend to agree with the MLB story that it was really the left fielder’s ball, but still, evidently Aybar got under it.

What a way to end a series!

And now it’s back to the void–but only for a little bit.

A super game!

UPDATE: The DR beat Mexico, 3-1, today. The Dominican team is now 4-1 for the series. Mexico is 0-5.

Venezuela is now 4-0 in the Caribbean Series. Last night’s game was a thriller. Mexico made a dramatic ninth inning comeback to tie, but failed to push across the one additional run it needed to win its first game of the tournament. Venezuela handed the ball to Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth. Some of his breaking balls were terrific, and he struck out three. And yes, these are the Mexican hitters, who have not exactly been fearsome in this series, but Frankie’s slider was working, and showed why he is known as “K-Rod.” However, he also gave up a single to major-league journeyman Trenidad Hubbard and then a game-tying homer by Juan Canizalez.

Venezuela went on to win in the 10th on a single by Alex Cabrera, who I assume is the same Alex Cabrera who once played for the Diamondbacks before breaking his leg, and then later went on to hit 55 home runs in a season in Japan. Those 55 homers tied the single-season record held by the legandary Sadaharu Oh (who, by the way, will manage Japan’s WBC team next month). He might have broken the record, but as with Randy Bass and Tuffy Rhodes before him, Japanese pitchers stopped pitching to him.

Anyway, these games are fun for the mix of oldtime journeymen (e.g. Hubbard, Alex Cora), young up-and-comers (like Franklin Gutierrez, whom the Dodgers traded for Milton Bradley) and current major-leaguers that you see, and for the festive atmosphere at the games.

I do not know who Juan Canizales is, but he sure got hold of that hanging K-Rod slider.

Tomorrow’s evening game will be one to watch, as it will pit the top two teams and probably determine the championship.* If the two teams are tied after Tuesday’s game, they will play again to decide it all on Wednesday.


*An error here in the original post has been corrected.