Playoffs 2021: Cocodrilos vanquish Elefantes 11-2 in Game 3 to complete CNS Quarterfinals sweep
Updated: Apr 14, 2021
The Cocodrilos proved to be too good for a promissory but still inexperienced Elefantes team, winning 11-2 Game 3 of the Cuban National Series Quarterfinals to complete a sweep and advance undefeated to this postseason Semifinals.
Next stop for the Cocodrilos is the winner of the Santiago de Cuba-Las Tunas series, still pending completion because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the series, Matanzas outscored Cienfuegos 31-12, winning Game 1, 9-6 on Friday, and then 11-4 Game 2 on Sunday. Matanzas extended its postseason winning streak to four games and now the team has won 6 of their last 7 postseason games, dating back to Game 3 of the 2020 Cuban Finals against Camagüey.
During the series, the Cocodrilos had an offensive that produced 54 runs with 33 hits, including seven doubles and seven home runs. They kept coming at an inexperienced Cienfuegos pitching that saw this Tuesday starter Adrián Bueno unable to complete two innings.
Matanzas pounded 10 hits in Game 3, with Ariel Sánchez and Jefferson Delgado adding three hits each. Precisely Delgado broke the game open in the second inning, with a three-run homer off Bueno giving Matanzas a 6-0 lead.
It was Delgado’s fifth RBI of the game, after a two-run double in the first inning that put Matanzas up 2-0. Delgado gave the Cocodrilos one more run on his second double of the game in the eight inning. The Matanzas third baseman was also walked twice, having a perfect afternoon going 3-for-3 with three extra bases and getting on base five times.
Whatever the Cocodrilos plan was with starter Renner Rivero – who won 10 games during the regular season – did not last, when Rivero walked two batters to start the second inning and was quickly removed. Veteran Joel Suárez entered the game and was up to the task, completing seven innings of two runs and three hits that included Yusniel Ibáñez two-run homer in the third inning, while striking out three and walking two for the victory. With the win, Suárez improved his postseason record to 4-7 with a 4.22 ERA. Closer David Mena pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts to end the game.
After starter Bueno left the game, Cienfuegos’ best reliever Carlos Damián Ramírez – 32 reliefs, 6-1 record, and 12 saves during the regular season - took the mound, and the righthander silenced Matanzas bats for three innings until the sixth, an inning when he got into a lot of trouble.
In that inning, Ramírez loaded the bases - Aníbal Medina doubled to left, Ariel Sánchez singled to right, and Delgado was intentionally walked – only to face struggling Yadir Drake – was 1-for-11 in the series – and the player of the Algodoneros de Guasave in the Mexican Pacific Winter League, hit a Grand Slam to center field to give Matanzas a solid 10-2 lead. It was Drake’s first Grand Slam in Cuban National Series.
The Elefantes used two more pitchers with Alex Daniel Pérez allowing Matanzas’ last run in the eight when Delgado doubled for his sixth RBI of the game.
At the end, the Cocodrilos were simply too good in the series and they remain the team to beat this postseason.
Even when we predicted this outcome, if you still have any doubt of how good this team is, just think of it this way: the Cocodrilos are undefeated this postseason, having allowed 12 runs but only five earned in 27 innings. They also scored 31 runs in the series and had 14 extra bases, and, according to our writer Yirsandy Rodríguez, Matanzas’ hitters had a .430 OBP on 129 PA during the series, and 62% of the batters that got on base ended up scoring.
National Series Quarterfinals
Feb 12, Game 1: Cfg 6, Mtz 9
Feb 14, Game 2: Cfg 4, Mtz 11
Feb 16, Game 3: Mtz 11, Cfg 2
Matanzas won the series 3-0
(Top photo of Jefferson Delgado: Oscar Alfonso/Photo of Joel Suárez: Oscar Alfonso/Photo of team Matanzas: Guillermo Rodríguez)