Pinar Impresses with 7-3 win and Takes Series Lead over Matanzas

Raiko Martin  (

Vladimir Baños was the starting formula Pinar manager Urquiola needed at this point in the Final. (Photo: I. Francisco)

HAVANA TIMES – Everything that happened on the diamond Friday at the Captain San Luis Stadium in Pinar del Rio was included in the preliminary final series script. It proved that the first line Pinar pitching is superior and the team, supported by a delirious crowd, multiplied their strength.

Also demonstrated was that the Matanzas Crocodiles do not close their mouths until the last out; or until their body of rescuers leaks on all sides, a victim of their own limitations and a handling of the pitching that continues to amaze both experts and fans.

The second successive defeat for Victor Mesa disciples does not say, even remotely, that is all over. But it is a reality that they no longer navigate with the same favoritism they deserved at the start of the postseason.

It was expected that the high command of Matanzas would make some changes after the second game of the series which they lost 12-5. But neither moving Yurisbel Gracial to third and Raúl González to shortstop, nor benching Lazaro Herrera so Eriel Sanchez could catch and leave space for Duque as the DH gave the expected results. And the alarms are still on.

A major concern for Matanzas are the repeated failures of the starters, while recognizing that after a flawless three innings, lefty Yoanni Yera got the hook when he walked two consecutive batters in the fourth. So strict is the pitching policy of Victor Mesa.

Yera was then followed by nine relievers which didn’t give the desired results. The first damage once came off Lázaro Blanco, although it was the closer Felix Fuentes, brought in as a last resort to put out the fire, who gave up a bases-loaded double to Luis Alberto Valdés, driving in the first two runs. And immediately after Roel Santos, with a sacrifice fly, made the difference three.

Matanzas finally came to life after 15 straight scoreless innings over two games when slumping Yadiel Hernandez blasted a two run homer in the seventh off lefty Julio Alfredo Martinez, who had come on for Baños, to put his team in the game.

The Matanzas resurgence didn’t last long as Pinar came on for four runs in the bottom of the seventh, to the total enjoyment of the home town fans.

Game four is at 4:15 local time (EDT) on Saturday with Yosvani Torres announced for Pinar and Matanzas expected to use Joel Suarez or Yoelkis Cruz. It can be watched live on Cubavision Internacional.