Playoffs 2021: Avispas shut out for 2nd straight game vs Leñadores. Las Tunas one win away from SF
Yudiel Rodríguez pitched seven scoreless innings of four hits and the Las Tunas Leñadores solved Santiago de Cuba Avispas starter Carlos Font, beating the winner of Game 1, 7-0, on Tuesday afternoon for a 2-1 lead in the quarterfinal series.
In a repeat of Sunday’s loss, Avispas batters were kept in check. Santiago de Cuba went 6-for-32 at the plate for the afternoon game, and the Leñadores have kept the Avispas without a run for 19 consecutive innings, dating back to the seventh inning of Game 1 of the series on January 26th this year.
Game 4 is on Thursday afternoon (1 pm E.T.), when veteran righty Danny Betancourt and the Avispas will try to regain their footing following an off day and force a decisive Game 5. Right-hander Alejandro Meneses is scheduled to start for Las Tunas.
Santiago’s starter Carlos Font pitched just two innings and allowed six runs on six hits, for the loss.
Andrés de la Cruz hit an RBI single off reliever Wilber Reyna in the third inning and later in the fifth singled against Santiago’s third reliever Uber Luis Mejías, to help the 2019 Champions win for the second straight game and move within one victory of the semifinals.
Carlos J. Viera and two relievers silenced the Avispas offense in Game 2 and the Leñadores struck early in Game 3, combining three consecutive singles and a costly error by left-fielder Ariel Benavides to take a 2-0 lead. Then first baseman Rafael Viñales singled to left field bringing home Danel Castro and putting Las Tunas 3-0 up after one inning.
Santiago’s starter Carlos Font, who went seven innings in Game 1 of the series and got the win, it was obvious didn’t have his best stuff today. He got in trouble early and couldn’t locate his best pitch, the fastball, allowing four hits in a key first inning, and escaping more runs when Yordanis Alarcón grounded into a 5443 double play to end the inning.
Two innings later and Font was out of the game.
In the bottom of the third, Font issued back-to-back walks to Andrés Quiala and Danel Castro and allowed Yosvany Alarcón’s double to right field for a 4-0 lead. Moments later, when the right-hander walked Viñales to load the bases, Santiago’s manager Heriberto Rosales had already seen too much and pull Font out of the game. The starter threw 44 pitches, didn’t have a strikeout, walked three batters and, at the end of the game, was responsible of six of the seven Las Tunas’ runs. The game was practically decided.
Yudiel Rodríguez and closer Yosbel Alarcón combined to shut the Avispas winning the always important Game 3. Rodríguez took revenge of his Game 1 defeat throwing 123 pitches and adding a W to his already Game 2 S. Part of the reason why Rodríguez was able to keep Avispas hitters off the bases was his ability to command the zone and effectively mix all his pitches, especially after an uncertain first inning when he walked two and allowed a single.
Santiago de Cuba have now gone 19 straight innings without scoring a run. The Leñadores’ pitchers seem to have honed in on the holes in individual swings and exploited them to spectacular effect. Santiago Torres is 3-for-11 in the series. Yoelkis Guibert is 1-for-7. Ariel Benavides is 2-for-12, Ruden Sánchez 3-for-12, Yaicel Pérez 1-for-5, Manuel Pérez 1-for-8. Overall, the Avispas are in real trouble, just one defeat away from going home and collectively hitting just .247 in the series.
For many, this series is all over.
National Series Quarter Finals
Jan 26, Game 1: Ltu 4, Scu 7
Feb 28, Game 2: Ltu 3, Scu 0
Mar 2, Game 3: Scu 0, Ltu 7
Mar 4, Game 4 – 1 p.m: Probables, RHP Danny Betancourt (Scu) vs. RHP Alejandro Meneses (Ltu)
Las Tunas leads the best-of-five series 2-1
(Top photo of Las Tunas: Leandro Pérez/Photo of Yudiel Rodríguez: Leandro Pérez)