Playoffs 2021: Viera, Peña help Leñadores top Avispas 3-0 to tie semifinal series
Carlos Juan Viera knew Las Tunas couldn’t afford losing Game 2 against Santiago de Cuba on Sunday afternoon.
The ace right-hander pitched 8 2/3 shutout innings and Denis Peña homered and drove in two runs, during a 3-0 victory over the Santiago de Cuba Avispas that tied the semifinal series at a game apiece.
“Is an unforgettable experience, tying the playoff serie against Santiago”, said Viera after the game.
The right-hander, who had a 9-4 record and 3.14 ERA for Las Tunas during the regular season, and also pitched for Los Mochis of the Mexican Pacific Winter League this year, delivered for his team when they really needed it.
Game 3 is Tuesday afternoon at Cándido González Stadium in Camagüey, a neutral location previously selected for the best-of-five series because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the East part of the country. Carlos Font is scheduled to start for Santiago de Cuba probably against Alejandro Meneses.
Denis Peña helped the 31-year-old Viera when he connected a solo shot off Alberto Bicet in the seventh to give Las Tunas a 2-0 lead. In the ninth, Andrés de la Cruz doubled to right field and Peña laced a single to center field that made it 3-0.
Las Tunas scored against Santiago’ starter Bicet in the second inning. An error allowed Yosvany Alarcón get on base to start the inning and a balk moved the runner to second. Yordanis Alarcٙón’ single to right sent Yosvany to third and a wild pitch gave Las Tunas an early 1-0 lead.
It was the only run of the game until Peña’s homer in the seventh.
To be honest, Viera and Alberto Bicet pitched a great game. Both right-handers were efficient as they engaged in a pitcher’s duel, Viera allowing four hits with six strikeouts, and none walks, and Bicet tossing seven innings of five hits, two runs – one earned – six strikeouts, and two walks.
With his outing in Game 2 Viera, who had a 4.47 ERA in 11 1/3 innings in two previous postseasons, lowered his ERA to an excellent 2.70 and, most importantly, won his first career postseason game.
Here are some interesting numbers, from our writer Yirsandy Rodríguez, regarding Viera’s Game 2 performance:
1: Number of hits allowed between the third and fourth time Viera faced Santiago’s lineup (Denis Alá’s double in the bottom of the eight).
3: Number of runners in scoring position.
5: Number of innings where he didn’t allow a hit: 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 9th.
6: Number of innings where he retired the first batter he faced.
9: Number of innings where he used less than 15 pitches!
95: His fastest pitch of the game.
In the ninth, one out away from his first career postseason shutout and after 99 pitches, Las Tunas’ manager Pablo Civil pulled his starter out of the game. The reason behind was to prevent Viera to get to 100 pitches and, by the Cuban postseason rules for pitchers, then losing the possibility of using him in Game 4.
Yoalkis Cruz was called to get one out but the veteran righty allowed a single and two wild pitches, and was immediately replaced. Left-hander Yudiel Rodríguez took the mound and close the game striking out Ariel Benavides for his second career postseason save.
National Series Quarter Finals
Jan 26, Game 1: Ltu 4, Scu 7
Feb 28, Game 2: Ltu 3, Scu 0
Mar 2, Game 3 – 1 p.m: Probables, RHP Carlos Font (Scu) vs. RHP Alejandro Meneses (Ltu)
The best-of-five series is tied 1-1
(Top photo of Carlos Juan Viera: Leandro Pérez/Photo of Denis Peña scoring after his solo homer: Leandro Pérez)