65th Caribbean Series: Replenishment of Chaos - Game 4 Analysis
Updated: Feb 9
—Agricultores' offense collapsed after a quick comeback in the second inning. The offensive chaos continues.
After allowing 20 runs and 25 hits to Leones de Caracas on Saturday, Agricultores' offense showed signs of life on Sunday against Cañeros de los Mochis. It was only a flash, however, as the Aztecs came back to win 6-5 in La Rinconada Stadium.
Beyond the internal shock generated by a loss as embarrassing as Venezuela's 20-3 thrashing of Cuba, there is always a chance for redemption in baseball. With this competitive approach, the Agricultores challenged the Cañeros, in a duel between the worst offensive teams so far in this Caribbean Classic:
—Agricultores: Lowest OBP (.275) and OPS (.573)
—Cañeros: Lowest BA (.204)
As a result, a left-handed duel began that did not last beyond the first inning. After just 29 pitches, the Cañeros stalked Ángel Sánchez until he was expelled from the mound. Again, the lack of command and limited velocity of his fastball exposed his pitches to vulnerability. After two outs and two walks, Joey Terdoslavich's RBI double completed Mexico's 3-0 opening rally.
As in the previous two games, the Agricultores started the game behind, and the burden of pitching fell to the relievers. After leading by three runs in the first inning, the Cañeros pitcher, Jeffrey Kinley, 30, retired the side without any issues.
Only Yuniesky Larduet managed to reach base, getting his fourth hit in the last five at-bats, but Kinley caught him leading despite losing by three runs. The following two innings led to the match's decision. The Agricultores scored for the first time in the second inning during this Caribbean Series. In addition to Yosvany Alarcón's single, Rafael Viñales was walked and Guillermo Avilés' hit loaded the bases. Kinley's complications led to a five-run inning, but three of the runs were unearned when Mexico's defense failed.
A pair of fielding errors by Rodolfo Amador and Roberto Valenzuela extended Kinley's inning and a hit by Andrés de La Cruz equalized the score, 3-3. After Osvaldo Abreu rolled to short, José Moreno unleashed an angry lashing because of a balk that gave Agricultores the lead.
Even though the bullpen had the most responsibility in containing the Cañeros, the Cuban lineup emerged as a ray of hope. In a flash, that emotion was forgotten. Mexico came back with three runs in the third inning to take a 6-5 lead.
We would be unfair if we didn't give credit to Agricultores right-handed Kelbis Rodríguez. With two runners in scoring position, and two outs, Rafael Viñales was unable to catch Jasson Arondo's fly ball to short left field. In subsequent innings, neither pitching staff gave more liberties to the opposition. Kinley silenced Cuba's offense by providing extensive and effective relief over 7 13.1 innings, paving the way for Andy Vargas in the ninth. Meanwhile, Kinley silenced Cuban hitters. He threw six innings retiring 23 consecutive Cubans. Rafael Córdova, Samuel Zazueta, and Jake Sánchez kept the one-run lead intact in the last three innings.
With one out in the final inning, Guillermo Avilés hit Agricultores' first hit since the second inning's five-run rally. But in the end, after starter Ángel Sánchez left the game, Kelbis Rodríguez and Andy Vargas managed to stop the lineup of the Cañeros, but without offensive support, it is clear that the road to the Semifinals in Gran Caracas will be challenging for Agricultores.
México 6, Cuba 5/Final: A review
México: 6-10-2 (R-H-E)
2B: Atondo (1, Rodríguez); Terdoslavich (2, An. Sánchez)
RBI: Amador (4), Atondo 2 (2), Ornelas (1), Terdoslavich 2 (3)
RBI 2 outs: Amador, Atondo 2, Terdoslavich 2
Team RISP: 3-10 (Félix 0-2, Amador 1-1, Atondo 1-2, Cardona 0-1, Valenzuela 0-1, Ornelas 0-2, Terdoslavich 1-1)
Team LOB: 8
-RUNNING THE BASES-
SB: Atondo (1, 2nd base of Rodríguez/Yos. Alarcón); Ornelas (2, 2nd base of Rodríguez/Yos. Alarcón)
CS: Dean (1, 2nd base of Rodríguez/Yos. Alarcón)
E: Amador (1, fielding); Valenzuela (1, fielding)
Cuba: 5-5-0 (R-H-E)
RBI: Abreu (1), De La Cruz (3), Laza (1)
Team RISP: 2-7 (Avilés 1-1, Abreu 0-1, Larduet 0-1, Yor. Alarcón 0-1, De La Cruz 1-1, Santos 0-1, Laza 0-1)
Team LOB: 2
-RUNNING THE BASES-
CS: Larduet (1, 2o base de Kinley/Félix)
Picked Off: Larduet (1er base, Kinley)
DP: 1 (Yos. Alarcón-Yor. Alarcón)
Notable Slash lines: Again, the bottom of the batting order stepped up in a clutch situation and drove in all three runs (3
Performance of pitchers:
-Ángel Sánchez: ⅔ IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 0 HR
-Kelbis Rodríguez (P, 0-1): 7 ⅓ IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 HR
-Andy Vargas: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR
Strikes/Batters facing on the first pitch: Rodríguez 20/31; An. Sánchez 3/6; Vargas 4/4
Strikes called-Strikes fanned-Foul balls-Strikes in play: Rodríguez-17-4-14-27; An. Sánchez-6-0-3-3; Vargas-5-0-7-3
Ground balls and fly balls: Rodríguez 10-9; An. Sánchez 0-1; Vargas 2-1
How did victory escape?: From the third inning on, 23 batters were retired in a row with just a one-run deficit. Agricultores' OBP (.275) inefficiency had given us a heads-up before the game, so this was just a continuation.
What adjustments should they make?: In spite of their respective slumps, Raico Santos and Rafael Viñales continue to be key players for Agricultores. However, each of their slumps continues to affect the team: Viñales is 0-for-14, with three strikeouts and 12 non-contact swings. The most alarming thing about Raico's performance is the six strikeouts he has received, 40% of his 15 swing misses. Whatever the case, especially in short tournaments, a shift in the lineup or another variant would be reasonable.
As a point of reference, we should keep the following in perspective: As strange as it may sound, Agricultores has done better with runners in scoring position (.267) than when accumulating them on base (.255). Getting runners on base is the first step to producing runs, regardless of numerical differences.
(Photos: CBPC/AP/Calixto N. Llanes)