By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, April 22 — The regular Cuban baseball season is down to its final day on Sunday with three teams in the Eastern Division – Ciego de Avila, Granma and Santiago de Cuba – battling for the last two playoff slots. The three teams have identical 53-42 records.
The other Oriente playoff teams are division winner Villa Clara (57-38) and runner up Las Tunas (53-40), guaranteed second place on percentage points.
In the West, Cinderella Matanzas (57-38) has won their division and will play Sancti Spiritus (49-45) in the first round of the playoffs.
The other grouping will be Industriales (54-40), the pride and joy of Havana vs. Cienfuegos (54-41). Either of those teams will finish second and the other third depending on today’s games.
Home Run Title and Triple Crown Possibility
Several of the key individual batting statistic titles will also be determined on the final day of regular season play. Both Alfredo Despaigne (Granma) and Jose Dariel Abreu (Cienfuegos) have an all-time league record 35 homers.
Abreu has clinched the batting title with .394 average ahead of Danel Castro (Las Tunas) .370.
Abreu is also only two RBIs behind Despaigne 101-99 for the RBI title. Cienfuegos manager, Iday Abreu, has moved Abreu from clean-up to lead off position in the batting order to give him more turns at the plate and a greater chance to make the triple crown.
What if two or three teams end up tied?
Cuban baseball expert Peter C. Bjarkman informed us that if two or more teams are tied after today’s play, in the race for the playoff slots, the following tie-breaker rules will be in effect.
- The head-to-head series between the tied teams (one with most wins gets the top position), but if still tied
- The fewest runs allowed in games between the tied teams, but if still tied
- The fewest earned runs allowed in games between the tied teams
Sunday’s Important Games
Isla de la Juventud hosts Granma
Cienfuegos hosts Ciego de Avila
Santiago de Cuba hosts Mayabeque
Industriales hosts Las Tunas
Villa Clara hosts Sancti Spiritus
Artemisa hosts Guantanamo
Matanzas hosts Camaguey
Holguin hosts Metropolitanos