Cepeda and “Gallos” Take Giant Step Toward Playoffs

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Player of the Day: Ismel Jimenez becomes Cuba's first 17-game winner since 2000 National Series.

Monday evening brought a double dose of good news for the Sancti Spíritus club in the form of a crucial on-field victory in Granma and surprisingly early news that Freddie Cepeda has now been pronounced sufficiently recovered from shoulder pain to take part in post-season play. It had been announced earlier in the day that the star left fielder might have to sit out the full post-season due to a troublesome shoulder condition that limited his ability to both throw and swing the bat. With the Gallos club now seemingly all-but-mathematically guaranteed a playoff slot and with Cepeda pronounced fit for duty (even if not at full strength) things are indeed looking bright on the baseball front in Sancti Spíritus – and thus just a little less rosy for Occidental League opponents Industriales, Matanzas and Cienfuegos.

Ruperto Zamora’s club took a giant step last night toward locking up the final western sector post-season ticket with a dramatic 3-2 victory at Martires de Barbados Stadium that also damaged the home club’s eastern division playoff momentum. Both clubs plated two runs in the tense ninth inning after Gallos ace starter Ismel Jiménez carried a 1-0 lead into the last frame. In the bottom of the ninth closer Omar Guardarramas surrendered a two-run blast to Yordanis Samón (the league’s current base hits leader) that cut the visitor’s margin to a single run. But Yaniel Sosa was able to close the door (his first save of the season) and preserve victory number 17 for Jiménez. With the win Jiménez became only the eighth pitcher to lock down 17 victories in a National Series season and the first since Norge Vera last turned the trick in 2000. The loss for Granma dumped the Stallions a full game off the pace in their struggle with Santiago for the last available playoff spot in the Oriental League.

Results of Monday, April 16, 2012

(Boldface team is home club)

Matanzas 7, Guantánamo 4

Villa Clara 5, Holguín 3

Artemisa 7, Metropolitanos 3

Isla de la Juventud 4, Mayabeque 1

Sancti Spíritus 3, Granma 2

Idle: All other teams

League Standings (April 16, 2012)

Boldface teams have clinched playoff appearance

Occidental League

Team Games Wins Losses Pct. Margin
Matanzas 91 53 38 .582
Industriales 91 52 39 .571 1.0
Cienfuegos 91 51 40 .560 2.0
Sancti   Spíritus 90 47 43 .522 5.5
Pinar del   Río 94 46 48 .489 8.5
Isla de   la Juventud 91 38 53 .418 15.0
Metropolitanos 91 36 55 .396 17.0
Artemisa 91 34 57 .374 19.0
Mayabeque 91 30 61 .330 23.0

Oriental League

Team Games Wins Losses Pct. Margin
Villa Clara 91 55 36 .604
Las Tunas 90 52 38 .578 2.5
Ciego de   Avila 91 52 39 .571 3.0
Santiago   de Cuba 91 51 40 .560 4.0
Granma 91 50 41 .549 5.0
Guantánamo 89 42 47 .472 12.0
Holguín 91 42 49 .462 13.0
Camagüey 93 43 50 .462 13.0

Individual Batting Leaders

Ave: José Dariel Abreu (Cienfuegos) .388

Hits: Yordanis Samón (Granma) 124

Runs: Ramón Tamayo (Granma) 83

HR: Alfredo Despaigne (Granma) 35 (new league record)

RBI: Alfredo Despaigne (Granma) 101

Slugging: José Dariel Abreu (Cienfuegos) .821

Individual Pitching Leaders

Wins: Ismel Jiménez (Sancti Spíritus) 17

ERA: Vladimir García (Ciego de Avila) 1.78

Complete Games: Vladimir García (Ciego de Avila) 11

Saves: Danni Aguilera (Isla de la Juventud) 26

Ks: Yadier Pedroso (Artemisa) 120

Ks: Odrisamer Despaigne (Industriales) 120

Innings: Ismel Jiménez (Sancti Spíritus) 185.0

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