Bjarkman predicts quick playoff exit for Yasser Gomez and the fan-favorite Industriales Blue Lions.
National Series #47 (concluded this past Sunday) provided easily the most exciting and historic Cuban League season in several decades. Highlight events included a new career record for pitching victories by Pedro Luis Lazo (Pinar del Rio), new individual season marks for both home runs and RBIs (31 and 111 by Santiago’s Alexei Bell), the best single-season pitching season in league annuals (15-0, league-best 111 Ks by Habana’s Yulieski Gonzalez), and the first teammate tandem (Yoennis Cespedes and Alfredo Despaigne of Granma) to smack 50-plus homers between them. Almost lost in the avalanche of record performances was the 13-2 pitching mark (with a 1.55 ERA and rare no-hitter) turned in my Habana’s number two ace Jonder Martinez.
And now the real fun begins this coming week with the post-season playoffs featuring first-round quarterfinal match-ups between Industriales-Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus-Habana Province, Villa Clara-Ciego de Avila, and Santiago (defending champions)-Las Tunas. For my detailed predictions on the Cuban League April post-season derby the reader can turn to http://www.baseballdecuba.com/newsContainer.asp?id=639. The complete playoff action can be followed, as well, on our website at www.baseballdecuba.com, including live television streaming of selected games direct from Havana. Log on and don’t miss a moment of championship play from international baseball’s most colorful league venue.