2021 Cuban Finals: Alazanes on verge of winning third Cuban Championship after 15-5 Game 4 win
The Matanzas Cocodrilos find themselves on the verge of losing their National Series title, after a disproportionated 15-5 defeat in Game 4 of the 2021 Cuban Finals against the Granma Alazanes, in a game that was called after seven innings when the mercy rule went into effect.
The victory gave the Alazanes a 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series that continues Friday, when the “visitors” can end the Cocodrilos’ season. Granma’s ace Lázaro Blanco starts for the Alazanes and the Cocodrilos counter with Yoanni Yera in a repeat of Game 1.
There was plenty of ugliness in Game 4 for Matanzas. Manager Armando Ferrer decided to give the ball to Renner Rivero – starter of Game 3 less than 24 hrs before – and the pitching selection backfired when Rivero was pulled out of the game in the second inning after 42 pitches.
Rivero exited the game leaving bases loaded and batter Raico Santos in a 2-0 count. Righty Joel Suárez came to his rescue, but walked Santos allowing the runner to score from third for Granma’s 2-0 lead. The rest is history. Carlos Benítez followed with a two-run double and Guillermo García singled after Guillermo Avilés was intentionally walked, putting the Alazanes 5-0 up.
Suárez settled down and was able to keep the score the same for the next two innings, but in the fifth Guillermo García first homer of the game extended the lead to 6-0. An inning later and Suárez was out of the game. The veteran right-hander hit Roel Santos to start the sixth and after retiring Osvaldo Abreu in a flyout to center field he issued a walk to Raico Santos putting two on with one out. After 62 pitches Ferrer had enough and pulled Suárez out of the game. It didn’t matter. New reliever Armando Dueñas would walk the two batters he faced for an 8-0 lead, while new pitcher Leandro Hernández would accept Guille García’ single for an 9-0 lead.
Meanwhile Granma’ starter Joel Mogena was simply cruising against an offensive Matanzas lineup. The right-hander looked dominant in Game 4 allowing 2 hits with 3 walks and three strikeouts during the first five frames. He ran into trouble in the sixth – already winning 9-0 -, as he issued his fourth walk and yielded back-to-back singles for Matanzas’ first run. At the end, Mogena completed six strong innings of one run, four hits, four walks and four strikeouts for his first win of the series.
In the seventh Granma would score six more runs to seal the final score. The last two runs of the inning would be scored by Guille García’ second homer of the game.
It was the first time in his career that the young prospect from Granma hit two home runs and drove in six runs in a game. He went 4-for-5 in the afternoon.
Matanzas would score four runs against reliever Juan D. Pérez in the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the mercy rule.
National Series Finals
Mar 28, Game 1: Mtz 2, Grm 3
Mar 29, Game 2: Mtz 5, Grm 6
Mar 31, Game 3 - Grm 1, Mtz 3
Apr 1, Game 4 - 2 p.m. (ET): Grm 15, Mtz 5 (Mercy Rule 7 Inn)
Apr 2, Game 5 - 2 p.m. (ET): Probables, RHP Lázaro Blanco (Grm) vs. LHP Yoenni Yera (Mtz)
Granma leads the best-of-seven series 3-1
(Top photo of Joel Mogena: Ismael Francisco)