The biggest story during the first two weeks of post-WBC play in the Cuban League has been the resurgence of the Sancti Spíritus Gallos (“Roosters”)–this author’s own favorite ball clu,b as many readers already know. Before last night’s 15-1 shellacking at the hands of the Las Tunas Magos (“Magicians”) on home turf in José Huelga Stadium, the Gallos had run off ten straight victories to launch the last phase of National Series regular season play. Nine of the wins came on the road and five of them witnessed the Gallo’s offense posted double-digit scores. It was a streak that lifted the club from the doldrums of seventh place back into playoff contention and a current third-place perch in the eight-team Occidental Division. One irony of the loss that finally broke the skein on Wednesday night was that in came via a 15-1 knockout (ten-run rule seven-inning game) suffered at the hands of the last-place club in the Oriente Division. Also, the complete-game winner for Las Tunas, right-hander Yoelkis Cruz, is currently the league’s losingest pitcher with a 5-10 season’s ledger.
The Sancti Spíritus winning streak was nothing for the record books, however, being only the second longest of the current season. Villa Clara opened this year’s National Series #48 by reeling off 14 straight before suffering a first loss at Guantánamo. The longest Cuban League victory string on record was a remarkable 27 straight games registered by Mineros (Santiago) way back in 1972 (National Series #11), while the lengthiest season-opening string is Villa Clara’s 18 straight at the outset of the 1983-84 campaign (National Series #23). Neither of those two clubs captured championships, however, with Villa Clara finishing in third place in 1984 and Mineros losing a post-season championship playoff to the Azucareros ball club of Matanzas.