By Ray Otero (baseballdecuba.com)
HAVANA TIMES – The San Luis Stadium in Pinar del Rio will be small tonight, when starting at 7:15 pm the home team receives Industriales in the sixth game of the semifinal between the two rivals.
For Pinar, down 2-3 in the best-of-seven series, the game is do-or-die and for Industriales a chance for the decisive victory.
Both teams have had their highs and lows in the first five games. Pitchers such righthanders Noelvis Entenza and Vicyohandry Odelín have not responded for mentor Vargas in their starts, while for Pinar, both Julio Alfredo Martínez and Vladimir Baños, have not met the expectations of their manager.
Pinar del Rio has certainly been dominated by two young figures, Pedro Duran and David Mena, but also have struggled to get on base and proof of this is the OBP of .309 compared to .364 for Industriales. If we add that Pinar only averaged .254 to .300 of its opponents, many understand that to win today they will have to reverse this situation as they did in Game # 5 of the semifinal.
As for the run scoring opportunities, both are pretty well even, Pinar has had 62 players in scoring position driving in just 16 of them, while Industrial has brought home 18 of 67.
The pitching has certainly been the surprise of this series. Earlier this season manager Vargas said the Industrial pitching was going to give the team its 13th championship. Most people thought he was crazy, but certainly in the Postseason they have shined from the mound exhibiting a 3.21 ERA and .245 batting average from their opponents. Meanwhile, Pinar del Rio has been just the opposite, their pitchers are being hit for .300 and the team ERA is an alarming 5.49, which nobody expected at this time in the season.
But right now such statistics can be pushed aside. On Wednesday Yosvani Torres demonstrated it being roughed up in one inning (the second) and being capable along with Julio Alfredo to tie up the rivals bats the rest of the game.
Vargas has already announced his pitcher for tonight’s game six, veteran Vicyohandry Odelín, who will seek his first victory of the Playoffs, facing a Pinar that was very aggressive in the previous game.
Meanwhile Pinar manager Urquiola doesn’t have many options – at least reliable ones – to start the important game. With Torres out of the question and Carrero injured after his excellent performance on Tuesday, apparently the three possibilities are the rightys Erlis Casanova and Vladimir Baños, or southpaw Julio A. Martinez.
Whoever it is that takes the mound for the Pinar the team in the must win situation, losing means ending their run for a fourth Cuban baseball championship.
Industriales is not required to win tonight, but this clash is vital to not extend the series and be at a psychological disadvantage for a decisive seventh game, also in Pinar del Rio.
The die is cast, Industrial will play for a ticket to the finals and Pinar to tie the series. Waiting in the wings is Matanzas which easily won their series 4-1 over defending champion Villa Clara.