The ending of another year means the closing of the regular season for the winter leagues. The Dominican Winter League has already begun round-robin play as Manny Ramirez, Frank Batista, Junior Lake, Jeffry Antigua, Jeimer Candelario, and Carlos Pimentel have all made the playoffs.
Game winning home runs were the story in Venezuela as both Luis Valbuena and Willson Contreras delivered this past week. Meanwhile Christian Villanueva keeps leaving the park in Mexico while Javier Baez has cooled in Puerto Rico.
With all of that thunder, the Down on the Farm Report promises to go out with a bang for 2014!
Dominican Winter League
Cibaenas opened the round-robin DWL playoffs on Saturday with a 2-1 loss to Cibao in 11 innings. Manny Ramirez started at DH and went 0-for-3 with a walk before being replaced by a pinch-runner in the eighth inning.
Toros del Este
Este was able to squeeze its way into the DWL playoffs last Sunday even though they lost 5-2 to Oriente. Jeffry Antigua was rushed from the bullpen in the first inning after the Toros’ starter gave up three runs in the opening frame. Antigua settled things down as he pitched 1.1 scoreless innings. Jeimer Candelario started at third base and was 0-for-4.
It was an embarrassing opener for the Toros on Saturday as they managed only five hits in a 6-0 loss to top seeded Oriente. Jeffry Antigua had a strikeout, recording the game’s final out.
Estrellas de Oriente
Oriente clinched the DWL regular season championship last Sunday with a 5-2 win over Este. Junior Lake wound up the league leader in stolen bases as he went 0-for-4 with a walk, a run scored, and his 21st stolen base. Marcos Mateo also led the league as he recorded his 21st save with a strikeout in a scoreless ninth inning.
It was all Estrellas on Saturday as the Eastern Stars opened their portion of the round-robin playoffs with a 6-0 thrashing of Este. Junior Lake started in left field and was 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.
Gigantes del Cibao
Cibao showed that they were serious on Saturday as they opened round-robin play in the DWL playoffs with a 2-1 win over Cibaenas in 11 innings. Carlos Pimentel was brought in from Escogido and started for the Giants. Pimentel allowed an earned run on four hits and four walks while striking out three in 4.1 innings.
Mexican Pacific League
Yaquis de Obregon
Obregon started the week off right as they beat Culiacan 6-2 last Sunday. Christian Villanueva remained in somewhat of a slump as he went 0-for-2 with a walk in the win.
The Yaquis took on first place Jalisco on Monday and lost 7-3. Christian Villanueva (0-for-2) remained hitless, but he walked twice and scored a runs.
It was another one sided loss for the Tribe on Tuesday as they bowed to Jalisco 7-1. Christian Villanueva provided the only spark for the Yaquis with a first inning solo home run, his tenth of the winter. Villanueva was 2-for-4 and played left field in the loss.
Nearing the end of the regular season, Obregon was looking to get their act together on Saturday before the playoffs arrive and came up with a 6-2 win over Hermosillo. Christian Villanueva moved back to third base and was 2-for-5 in the victory.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League
Cangrejeros de Santurce
Santurce tried to make up some ground in the standings on Monday but lost 9-3 to Carolina. Javier Baez started at second base and was 0-for-4 with an RBI.
Making up a game from Nov. 22 on Tuesday, the Cangrejeros beat San Juan 3-1 in seven innings. Javier Baez remained at second base and was 0-for-2 with a walk.
The regularly scheduled game for Tuesday turned into a real barn-burner as the Crabbers stumbled 3-2 to San Juan in 14 innings. Javier Baez lined up at DH and went 1-for-7 with a double and an RBI.
Back in action after the holiday, Santurce was able to squeeze past first place Caguas 3-2 on Friday. Javier Baez played shortstop and was 0-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base.
Venezuelan Winter League
Cardenales de Lara
A ninth inning rally came up short last Sunday as Lara lost 6-5 to Magallanes. Luis Valbuena (1-for-4) tied the score at four in the sixth inning with his fourth home run of the winter, a two-run shot.
With the regular season winding down, the Cardinals were playing for pride on Saturday as they beat La Guaira 5-2. The difference came from Luis Valbuena as his three-run homer in the seventh, his fifth of the winter, proved to be the game-winner. Valbuena ended up 1-for-4 with three RBI.
Leones del Caracas
Caracas ran up the score in the early innings on Monday, and then coasted to a 10-1 win over La Guaira. Loiger Padron yielded the only run of the game for the Lions, giving up an earned run while striking out two in 0.2 innings.
The bullpen failed to hold a lead for the Lions on Saturday as they lost to Magallanes 5-3. Yoanner Negrin had another good start. Negrin went 5.1 innings and worked around four hits and a walk with four strikeouts as he held the Navigators scoreless.
Navegantes del Magallanes
Magallanes showed that they still had some fight left in them as they came up with five runs in the seventh inning to beat Caracas 5-3. Jonathan Herrera (2-for-3 with a run scored) kept the rally going with a bunt single and a stolen base.
Tiburones de La Guaira
La Guaira started the week off on the right foot last Sunday as they beat Margarita 7-4. Joseph Ortiz ran his record to 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA after a scoreless inning of work. Ortiz entered the game in the sixth inning and notched a strikeout.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Tiburones on Saturday, 5-2 to Lara. The game was tied until the seventh inning when the bullpen gave up a three run home run. Joseph Ortiz was summoned in the top of the ninth inning to record the final out.
Tigres de Aragua
Aragua remains in striking distance of the leaders as they topped Zulia 8-7 last Sunday. Willson Contreras provided the dramatics as his walk-off two-run home run gave the Tigers the winning edge. Contreras was 1-for-4 with three RBI in the game, and was joined by Tennessee outfielder Rubi Silva, who went 0-for-4 with a run scored.
The Tigers were competitive on Monday but were unable to hold off Magallanes as they lost 5-4. Rubi Silva batted leadoff for Aragua and was 0-for-4 in the loss.
The Big Cats persisted in putting pressure on the front-runners on Friday as they used a big first inning to put away Margarita 7-4. Rubi Silva drove in his first run of the winter as he went 1-for-3 and played right field.
Aragua remained one game out of second place on Saturday as they fell 8-0 to Margarita. Rubi Silva has yet to get untracked as he was 0-for-3 while Willson Contreras (1-for-1) appeared as a pinch hitter.