HAVANA TIMES, Feb. 22 — Hard-hitting Las Tunas stands in the way of perennial contender Santiago de Cuba seeking another playoff opportunity.
The last ticket to the postseason in the Cuban Baseball League will be decided in Las Tunas on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday when the two teams make up games that were postponed during the regular season.
Both squads bombarded their opponents on Sunday, Santiago 17-1 over Guantanamo and Las Tunas 9-1 over Camaguey to set the stage for the showdown.
Las Tunas has a 47-41 record while Santiago is 46-41.
The first game will pick up where it left off earlier in the season in the bottom of the sixth inning with Santiago leading by a 6-5 score.
If Santiago wins that contest a second game will take place on Wednesday. If Las Tunas wins, Santiago will be eliminated.
The other seven playoff teams are Sancti Spiritus (63-27), Cienfuegos (51-39), La Habana (49-40) and Industriales (47-43) in the West and Villa Clara (56-32), Guantanamo (52-37) and Ciego de Avila (49-40) in the East.
The playoffs are expected to begin on Friday or Saturday with Cienfuegos playing Habana and Sancti Spiritus facing Industriales in the West. In the East, Guantanamo will meet Ciego de Avila and Villa Clara will play either Las Tunas or Santiago de Cuba.
Alfredo Despaigne of Granma managed to repeat as the league leader in homers with 31, one short of his record set last season and one up on Yulieski Gourriel (Sancti Spiritus) and José Dariel Abreu (Las Tunas). Despaigne is also the batting leader with a .404 average but winning the title depends on the performance of Henry Urrutia of Las Tunas in the final two games with Santiago. Urrutia is hitting .400.
Havana Times will be bringing our readers day-by-day coverage of the playoffs.