Playoffs 2021: Alazanes top Vegueros 13-3 in Game 6, advance to the 2021 Cuban Finals
Updated: Apr 14, 2021
Leandro Martínez had a good start and César García an even better relief, as the Granma Alazanes beat the Pinar del Río Vegueros 13-3 by the mercy rule Saturday afternoon, advancing to the Cuban Final for the third time in the last five years.
Guillermo García and Alexquemer Sánchez each homer for Granma, and Raico Santos had three RBIs to support starter Leandro Martínez in Game 6 of the semifinals.
Pinar del Río entered the series against Granma with season’s best pitching ERA but fell flat with a sloppy performance. Before Game 6 the Vegueros’ pitchers were showing a 7.68 ERA with a 2.29 WHIP, 22 strikeouts and alarming 39 walks. It didn’t get any better.
In Game 6 starter Vladimir Baños – who completed five good innings in Game 2 – lasted only 1 2/3 innings. He threw 42 pitches and left the mound with four runs allowed - three earned – on five hits. Five Pinar’ relievers combined for six innings of nine earned runs, four walks, and two batters hit.
On the other hand, Granma’ starter Leandro Martínez tossed 5 2/3 innings before César García worked almost perfect during 2 1/3 hitless innings.
Pinar was able to get to Leandro early in the game, scoring two in the first inning when the starter walked two, hit one batter, allowed one hit and two steals, before leaving the bases loaded when veteran outfielder Reinier León ended the inning with a grounder to second.
In the fourth Alexquemer Sánchez hit a solo homer off Yoandry Cruz to give Granma a 5-2 lead. It was Sánchez first homer in postseasons.
Leandro threw 20 pitches in the first inning, but from that point forward the left-handed was dominant against an unproductive Pinar’s lineup. Pinar’s batters went 2-for-15 against the starter until Pedro L. Rodríguez’ double to center field in the top of the sixth. Luis P. Acosta followed with a single and León doubled to left field to make it competitive, 5-3, sending Leandro back to the dugout. In his second start of the series Leandro tossed 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits, three strikeouts and two walks. The 41-year-old Martínez proved to be an excellent choice as the second starter of the series for Granma. Leandro started two games, threw 11 2/3 innings with a 3.85 ERA, six strikeouts, five walks and a .256 OBA.
The sixth was the last chance Pinar had to comeback in Game 6 and overall, in the series. Reliever César García, who won Game 3 with six excellent innings of one run, it was even better in Game 6, completing 2 1/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts and a walk.
That sealed a 13-3 mercy rule score, with the Alazanes scoring eight runs from the sixth inning on. The bottom of the sixth, where Granma scored five decisive runs, was disastrous for Pinar’s relievers who combined for three walks and two batters hit in the inning.
Guillermo García, an excellent replacement for injured – COVID-19 - Guillermo Avilés, in the bottom of the seventh hit his second homer of the series, a two-run shot off Reilandy González, giving Granma a 12-3 lead. According to our writer Yirsandy Rodríguez, García went 0-for-10 against Pinar’s pitchers during the regular season. However, the young infielder made his adjustments before the semifinals and had a sensational series. García collected 10 RBIs, with three doubles, and two homers against Pinar’s pitchers, and was simply clutch bringing home 50% of the runners he found in scoring position.
With the win, Granma and manager Carlos Martí advanced to their third Cuban Finals of the last five years. Granma has a 2-0 record in finals, winning back-to-back National Series titles in 2017 and 2018. Granma – and because of the COVID-19 pandemic - must now wait for the finish of the Las Tunas-Santiago de Cuba best-of-five quarterfinal series, and then the winner must play the best-of-seven semifinal series against Matanzas.
National Series Semifinals
Feb 20, Game 1: Pri 2, Grm 9
Feb 21, Game 2: Pri 13, Grm 3 (Mercy Rule - 8 innings)