Baseball: Cuba’s Tight Eastern Division

Villa Clara’s Leonys Martin
Villa Clara’s Leonys Martin

HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 15.- Villa Clara (11-0), Ciego de Avila (11-1) and Holguin (10-2) are in a hell of a fight for the early lead in the Eastern Division of the Cuban Baseball League. Meanwhile, Industriales (7-4) and Pinar del Rio (8-5) are tied in the West. The regular season is 90 games.

Villa Clara continued undefeated on Sunday but they didn’t win. Ahead in the fifth inning 6-1, the game was called due to a downpour and will be continued at a later date. Meanwhile, Ciego de Avila won their 11th straight 3-1 over Cienfuegos (2-9). Yander Guevara picked up his third win of the season and Jorge Longa got his third save.

Holguin’s Aroldis Champan
Holguin’s Aroldis Champan

Holguin is the surprise team at the start of the season. Yesterday they defeated Matanzas (2-10) 2-1 with left-handed sensation Aroldis Chapman winning his third game without a loss. Chapman, who wasn’t up to his best last season and didn’t make the national team, appears back in top form. He now leads the league in strikeouts with 22 and is tied with Yander Guevara as the only pitchers with three victories.

Industriales has lost three of their last four games but remained on top of the Western Division, now embraced with Pinar del Rio, last season’s runner up champions. Industriales took a beating on Sunday 15-3 at the hands of the hard hitting Las Tunas (6-4) with the win going to Ubisney Bermudez (2-1) and Reiner Roll (0-1) taking the loss. Las Tunas pounded out 18 hits to Industriales five. Osmani Urrutia homered for the winners and Yohandry Urgelles for Industriales.

Pinar del Rio was unable to take advantage of Industriales loss and blew an early 3-0 lead when Santiago de Cuba (5-6) scored their four runs in the top of the sixth. Osmel Cintra (1-0) picked up his first win of the season for the defending league champs and usual starter Reinier Roibal his first save. Yosvani Peraza homered for Pinar.

After the first four series of the season, Leonys Martin of Villa Clara, who some believe should have been on Cuba’s last World Cup team,  leads batters with a .429 average on 15 hits in 35 at-bats. Isaac Martinez of Ciego de Avila follows with .391 and Michel Gorguet (Guantanamo) and Alexander Malleta (Industriales) are tied for third with .381.

Juan Carlos Linares (Habana), Osmani Urrutia (Las Tunas) and Carlos Benitez (Granma) lead with 4 homeruns each; Urrutia, Vismay Santos (Guantanamo) and Donal Duarte (Pinar del Rio) are tied with 13 RBIs; Duarte is also tops with 14 runs scored; Leonys Martin leads with 5 stolen bases.

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