Daily Cuban League Action Update (for April 20, 2012)

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Player of the Day: Jose Dariel Abreu moves to the leadoff spot and cuts the RBI deficit to three.

Big league baseball has its sufficient examples of ballplayers sitting out the season’s final game in order to product a slim lead during a down-to-the-wire race for a league batting title. Or there is the well-worn tale of MLB’s last .400 hitter – Ted Williams in 1941 – refusing to play it safe by remaining on the sidelines during a final-day double-header. Cienfuegos manager Iday Abreu tried a new wrinkle in a similar scenario yesterday by moving clean-up slugger José Dariel into the leadoff spot in his lineup for the season’s final weekend series. The move was designed to potentially gain the star slugger a few additional plate appearances and thus increase Abreu’s chances of overhauling Alfredo Despaigne in the individual National Series home run and RBI races.

Abreu responded well Friday with a three-for-four outing that included a single, double, triple and 3 RBIs, narrowing runs-batted-home differential to only three. Despaigne was held hitless at Isla but Granma did win a crucial match that propelled the Stallions into a dead heat with Santiago for the final Oriental League playoff spot. Granma benefited from Santiago’s 11-4 defeat at the hands of Eastern Division tail ender Mayabeque. The biggest slugging display on Friday came from Matanzas first sacker Yasiel Santoya (on loan from Sancti Spíritus) who collected a pair of homers and six RBIs. The win for Victor Mesa’s Crocodiles clinched at least a share of first place in the Occidental League as well as upping to 56 the club record for single-season victories.

In other games Sancti Spíritus rolled over Western League leader Villa Clara 8-0 behind homers by Orlando Acebey and Yenier Bello while Metros enjoyed a similar shutout victory over basement-dwelling Holguín. Guantánamo also benefitted from a two-home-run outburst by Vismay Santos in squeezing out an 8-6 road win over Artemisa. And in one of the most crucial afternoon matches, Las Tunas squandered an early lead by surrendering five runs to Industriales in the home eighth and then dropped the vital contest during a tie-breaker tenth inning. The costly loss prevented the Leñadores from solidifying their position in the still-heated Oriental League post-season qualifying race. With the dramatic come-from-behind victory Industriales clung to a slim mathematical possible of tying Matanzas for first place in the Western Division.

Results of Friday, April 20, 2012

(Boldface team is home club)

Granma 4, Isla de la Juventud 1

Cienfuegos 6, Ciego de Avila 5

Matanzas 10, Camagüey 2

Sancti Spíritus 8, Villa Clara 0

Metropolitanos 7, Holguín 0

Guantánamo 8, Artemisa 6

Industriales 7, Las Tunas 6

Mayabeque 11, Santiago de Cuba 4

Idle: Pinar del Río (season complete)

League Standings (April 20, 2012)

Boldface teams have clinched playoff appearance

Occidental League

Team Games Wins Losses Pct. Margin
Matanzas 94 56 38 .596
Industriales 94 54 40 .574 2.0
Cienfuegos 94 53 41 .564 3.0
Sancti Spíritus 93 49 44 .527 6.5
Pinar del   Río 96 47 49 .490 10.0
Isla de   la Juventud 94 39 55 .415 17.0
Metropolitanos 94 37 57 .394 19.0
Artemisa 94 36 58 .383 20.0
Mayabeque 94 32 62 .340 24.0

Oriental League

Team Games Wins Losses Pct. Margin
Villa Clara 94 56 38 .596
Las Tunas 93 53 40 .570 2.5
Ciego de   Avila 94 53 41 .564 3.0
Santiago   de Cuba 94 52 42 .553 4.0
Granma 94 52 42 .553 4.0
Guantánamo 92 43 49 .467 12.0
Camagüey 94 43 51 .457 13.0
Holguín 94 43 51 .457 13.0

Individual Batting Leaders

Ave: José Dariel Abreu (Cienfuegos) .396

Hits: Yordanis Samón (Granma) 129

Runs: Guillermo Heredia (Matanzas) 87

HR: José Dariel Abreu (Cienfuegos) 35 (new league record)

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

RBI: Alfredo Despaigne (Granma) 101

Slugging: José Dariel Abreu (Cienfuegos) .845

Individual Pitching Leaders

Wins: Ismel Jiménez (Sancti Spíritus) 17

ERA: Pablo Millan Fernández (Holguín) 1.52

Complete Games: Vladimir García (Ciego de Avila) 11

Saves: Danni Aguilera (Isla de la Juventud) 27

Shutouts: Yosvani Torres (Pinar del Río) 5

Ks: Odrisamer Despaigne (Industriales) 128

Innings: Ismel Jiménez (Sancti Spíritus) 185.0

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