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11/06/2006 Archived Entry: "VIVA BEISBOL: Hermosillo overtakes Mazatlan for LMP lead"
MexPac teams loading up; Soria named LMP Player of Month
by BRUCE BASKIN
HERMOSILLO – While Navojoa’s Norris Hooper was bedeviling the Mazatlan Venados with a 5-for-5 night Sunday, the Hermosillo Naranjeros were able to make a late Erubiel Durazo homer hold up in a 3-2 win over the Los Mochis Caneros at Hector Espino Stadium. The victory vaulted the Orangemen over Mazatlan into the top slot on the Mexican Pacific League leaderboard, marking the first time all season the Deer have NOT led the MexPac standings. The Naranjeros opened the week’s play last Tuesday with a 3-1 loss to Joakim Soria and the Obregon Yaquis, but Hermosillo has since racked up five wins in a row. Navojoa kept pace with the leaders by building a seven-game win streak, snapped by Mazatlan 12-10 in twelve innings Saturday before Hopper’s big game Sunday paced the Mayos’ 13-0 bombing of the Venados. Hopper’s outburst included two triples and a homer while driving in five runs.
At the other end of the spectrum, neither Los Mochis nor Guasave won a game last week. The Caneros have now lost eight games in a row, while the Algodoneros are 1-6 since firing manager Che Reyes to fall deeper into the LMP cellar with two weeks left in the first half.
The MexPac race figures to heat up in the coming weeks as teams add ammunition to their rosters. Catcher Miguel Ojeda has joined Mazatlan after a few weeks of rest following a summer with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos, while San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez will join the Venados in December for the stretch run to the playoffs. Luis Carlos Garcia will be joining Obregon after finishing salary negotiations to augment a lineup that includes Colorado outfielder Choo Freeman. Freeman, a cousin of Minnesota star Torii Hunter, is hitting over .360 for the Yaquis and (according to longtime Mexican baseball figure and Obregon native Carlos Fragoso) has been playing a style of baseball reminiscent of a young Garry Maddox, who played in Obregon during the early Seventies. Ex-Seattle first baseman Bucky Jacobsen has not hit for a high average for Obregon, but he has belted six homers. And third baseman Vinny Castilla, who just retired as a major league player last month after 16 seasons, will hook up with Hermosillo later this month after coming back from vacation in the South Pacific and working out at his home in Denver. Castilla won a National Sports Prize award last week (see below).
The LMP has named Obregon’s Soria as its Player of the Month for October. As mentioned last week, he missed two seasons due to shoulder tendonitis before returning to the Yaquis last winter as a closer and continuing in that role in the summer with Mexico City. Manager Homar Rojas has converted Soria to a starter role, and the righty has been superb. Last Tuesday, he won his fourth game without a loss in a dominant performance against Hermosillo, taking a 3-1 victory on the strength of seven innings of two-hit shutout pitching. Soria picked up his MexPac-leading 5th win Sunday in Obregon’s 5-4 win over Culiacan to complete a three-game sweep of the Tomateros.
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MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE STANDINGS (as of November 6)
Hermosillo Naranjeros (15-7/.682/0.0GB)
Mazatlan Venados (14-8/.636/1.0GB)
Navojoa Mayos (14-8/.636/1.0GB)
Obregon Yaquis (14-9/.609/1.5GB)
Mexicali Aguilas (10-12/.455/5.0GB)
Culiacan Tomateros (8-13/.381/6.5GB)
Los Mochis Caneros (8-14/.364/7.0GB)
Guasave Algodoneros (5-17/.227/10.0GB)
RESULTS of games from OCTOBER 31 through NOVEMBER 5
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31
Mazatlan 6. Mexicali 1 (MAZ-Pablo Ortega tossed 7 shutout innings with 4 strikeouts)
Obregon 3, Hermosillo 1 (OBR-Joakim Soria won 4th game with 7IP/0R/2H outing)
Culiacan 4, Los Mochis 0 (CUL-Brian Bannister pitched 2-hit shutout ball over 7 frames)
Navojoa 1, Guasave 0 (NAV-Oscar “Perfecto” Rivera allowed 0 runs with 6 Ks in 6 IP)
Navojoa 6, Guasave 0 (NAV-Doug Clark and Matt Kata both doubled and homered)
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1
Mazatlan 2, Mexicali 0 (MAZ-Hugo Castellanos took a no-hitter into the 7th inning)
Hermosillo 14, Obregon 2 (HMO-Chris Roberson hit 4-for-5 with 5 RBIs in 22-hit attack)
Culiacan 6, Los Mochis 5 (MOC-Reliever Edgar Lizarraga allowed 2 runs in bottom of 7th)
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2
Mexicali 6, Mazatlan 1 (MXI-Justin Hampson hurled 7 innings with 0 runs, 3 hits and 6 Ks)
Hermosillo 7, Obregon 6 (HMO-Erubiel Durazo batted 3-for-4 with a double)
Culiacan 6, Los Mochis 1 (CUL-Tomateros sweep series as Ruben Rivera stroked 2 homers)
Navojoa 11, Guasave 3 (NAV-Jesse Gutierrez hit 2 homers with 4 RBIs)
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3
Mexicali 11, Guasave 8 (MXI-Derrick White bombed 2 homers and drove in 5 runs)
Navojoa 3, Mazatlan 2 (NAV-Jose Espinoza lashed game-winning single in 11th inning)
Obregon 4, Culiacan 3 (OBR-Carlos Valencia’s 8th inning homer broke 4-4 tie)
Hermosillo 9, Los Mochis 4 (HMO-Justin Lehr pitched 5 shutout innings in LMP debut)
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4
Mexicali 9, Guasave 3 (MXI-Fernando Valenzuela Sr. won as Fernando Jr. homered)
Mazatlan 12, Navojoa 10 (MAZ-Edgar Gonzales hit GWRBI double in top of 12th inning)
Obregon 6, Culiacan 4 (OBR-Luis Mendoza was 5IP/2R/4H, hit 100 mph on radar gun)
Hermosillo 17, Los Mochis 6 (HMO-Geronimo Gil had 2 hits and 7 RBIs with grand slam)
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5
Mexicali 6, Guasave 3 (MXI-Derrick White hit 2-run homer in 3-run 6th inning)
Navojoa 13, Mazatlan 0 (NAV-Norris Hopper went 5-5 with 2 triples a homer and 5 RBIs)
Obregon 5, Culiacan 4 (OBR-Joakin Soria gets 5th win despite allowing 4 runs in 4th frame)
Hermosillo 3, Los Mochis 2 (HMO-Erubiel Durazo’s 8th inning homer was deciding blow)
UPCOMING SERIES FOR NOVEMBER 7-9
Obregon at Culiacan, Mexicali at Guasave, Los Mochis at Hermosillo, Mazatlan at Navojoa
UPCOMING SERIES FOR NOVEMBER 10-12
Culiacan at Guasave, Los Mochis at Mazatlan, Obregon at Mexicali, Hermosillo at Navojoa
TEPIC BEATS TECUALA 3-0 IN LIGA NOROESTE NO-HITTER
TEPIC – Martin Arturo Sotelo and Joel Valdez combined to toss a no-hitter as the Tepic Diablos topped Tecuala 3-0 in a Liga Noroeste game on Wednesday, November 1.
Sotelo started the game for Tepic and went eight innings, allowing just two walks and uncorking a wild pitch while striking out five Tecuala batters. The game was scoreless when Sotelo exited, but the Diablos played three runs in the bottom of the eighth to break the stalemate. Valdez entered the game in the top of the ninth, and mowed down Tecuala in a 1-2-3 outing to seal the deal and pick up the save.
VINNY CASTILLA WINS NATIONAL SPORTS AWARD
LOS PINOS – Longtime major league third baseman Vinny Castilla has been named a winner of the prestigious Premio Nacional Deportes, which is awarded annually to the leading sports figures in Mexico. The 39-year-old Castilla retired from the Colorado Rockies in September after spending sixteen seasons in a big league uniform. A career .276 hitter, he is the all-time leader among Mexican major leaguers in games played (1854), at-bats (6822), doubles 349), homers (320), runs (902) and RBIs (1105).
A native of Oaxaca, Castilla is among five athletes who will receive the award at a November 20 ceremony in Los Pinos. He’ll be given a gold medal, a diploma signed by Mexican president Vicente Fox, and 340 thousand pesos. Last year, Tampa Bay second baseman Jorge Cantu received a PND award.
Castilla is weighing his post-playing options in baseball as he vacations with his family in Hawaii. It is believed the Rockies would like to retain his services in some capacity, while the Chicago White Sox (managed by Castilla friend Ozzie Guillen) are also said to be interested in bringing him on board. Not entirely retired as a player, Castilla will join the Hermosillo Naranjeros this month after returning from Hawaii.
A popular figure among players and fans, Castilla caused a stir in October with a column on the dePelota.com website in which he was critical of Mexican baseball hierarchy for treating players like “cattle,” with original teams preventing them from playing elsewhere by retaining their rights after releasing them.
BEST WEBSITES FOR INFO ON MEXICAN PRO BASEBALL
www.baseballguru.com (Featuring noted author John B. Holway and Viva Beisbol’s year-round home
www.baseball-reference.com (Statistics of all past and present big leaguers, including Mexican players)
http://depelota.com (Covers all Mexican pro baseball, including the independent leagues)*
www.espndeportes.espn.go.com (Terrific site with up-to-date news and stats on all Latin baseball)*
www.esto.com (One of Mexico’s best sports papers, and home to HOF writer Tomas Morales)*
www.hitazos.com.mx (Top columnists and prime coverage of Mexican and major league baseball)*
www.ligadelpacifico.com.mx (The official Mexican Pacific League website, with lots of great info)*
www.lmb.com.mx (The official Mexican League website, tied in with Minor League Baseball site)*
www.minorleaguebaseball.com (Featuring Mexican League statistics, but no MexPac coverage)
www.mlb.com (Well-written, informative stories on Mexican baseball by Jesse Sanchez)
www.oursportscentral.com (Leading site for minor league sports, and Viva Beisbol’s original “home”)
www.planeta.com (Not a baseball site, but some great stories on Mexican baseball by Jon Clark)
www.purobeisbol.com.mx (Coverage of the LMB and LMP, top news coverage by Fernando Ballasteros)*
www.salondelafama.com (Official site of Mexico’s Hall of Fame, and a treasure trove of information)*
www.tecatebeisbol.com (Newer site covering LMP and LMB teams, featuring Viva Beisbol)*
*-Website text in Spanish