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ATF: Culiacan - February 1, 2017 - Day 1 - Licey? Licey? Bueller?

Opening Day of the Caribbean Series is in the books and, after 18 innings of baseball and a bizarre Olympic-like opening ceremony, we already have some idea of who has a chance to win the Serie and who probably doesn't. Join the IBI's Arthur Kinney as he takes you Around the Serie del Caribe...

ALAZANES DE GRANMA (CUBA) 4, TIGRES DEL LICEY (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC) 0

Licey's performance was actually worse than this score indicates as Granma could've scored more in this one-sided game.  Maybe the Tigres weren't entirely focused on the business portion of their trip to Mexico quite yet, but right now, ending the Dominican Republic's seven-game Caribbean Series losing streak (last win came in 2015) seems to be as lofty a goal as Licey can aspire to unless something changes very quickly.

That said, it wasn't as if this one-sided result was entirely due to Licey's ineptitude.  Granma played a very good ballgame and are likely a force to be reckoned with in this Series (assuming all their good players don't defect mid-tournament).  Make no mistake:  The Cubans have a very real chance to win the Caribbean title.

INDIANS

Ronny Rodriguez (Tigres del Licey, 1B) - 1-4, 1 K - Far from the worst performance from a Tigre yesterday, but not what we've come to expect from Ronny-Rod this winter ball season.

OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

Zoilo Almonte (Tigres del Licey) - 2-3, 1 BB, 1 K - One of only two Tigres to have a multi-hit game and the only one to get on base three times.  He clearly stood out from the vast majority of the Tigres lineup on Wednesday.

Webster Rivas (Tigres del Licey, starting C) - 2-2, 1 2B, 1 PB - Rivas had the other multi-hit effort and the lone extra-base hit of the game for Licey before being inexplicably pulled for pinch-hitter Yermin Mercedes in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Roel Santos (Alazanes de Granma, CF) - 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI - Santos had the best day of any hitter in the Serie opener.  Both of his hits were extra-base hits and he was the only batter for either team to drive in any runs.

Lazaro Blanco (Alazanes de Granma, SP) - W, 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 6 K - While his outing wasn't the most efficient, he still averaged almost a strikeout an inning and kept the runners from scoring.

Livan Moinelo (Alazanes de Granma, RP) - S, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 K - A very similar outing to Blanco's:  Not very efficient, but it got the job done.  Also, getting through Game 1 using only two pitchers means that the Alazanes bullpen is well-rested for the remainder of the Serie.

Ivan Pineyro (Tigres del Licey, SP) - L, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R (all earned), 1 BB, 1 K - By the time he was finally pulled from the game in the third, the proverbial horse was not only out of the barn, but the barn had been imploded.  The good news for Licey:  He doesn't start in their next game.  The bad news:  This guy was their Opening Day starter.  That doesn't inspire great confidence in the rest of the rotation.

AGUILAS DE MEXICALI (MEXICO) 4, CRIOLLOS DE CAGUAS (PUERTO RICO) 2

Believe it or not, this game started out as a pitchers' duel.  Through six innings, no one had scored and it seemed like no one ever would.  Then came Caguas third baseman David Vidal's solo shot in the top of the seventh to start the scoring.  The game then turned into Home Run Derby as each of the following three half-innings also included a home run, with the homers accounting for all but one of the runs scored in the game.  While not playing in their home ballpark, the Aguilas are playing in their home country and, as the league's name implies, the Mexican Pacific League ballparks are not exactly spread over the entire country.  Beside the significant contingent of traveling Aguilas fans, Mexicali also gains a further home field advantage from their rivals' fans, many of whom have adopted the Aguilas as their team for the week (keep in mind that these teams are seen as national teams by many fans in the Caribbean [Mexicali, Caguas, and Licey are even wearing national team uniforms instead of their team uniforms]).  While Venezuelan champions Aguilas del Zulia don't open their Serie until today, Mexicali and Granma have established themselves as early favorites to win the Caribbean championship.

FORMER INDIANS

Fernando Cabrera (Criollos de Caguas, RP) - L, H, 0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R (both earned) - While he didn't allow the two-run homer that put the Aguilas into the lead for good, Cabrera allowed the eventual game-tying and game-winning runs on base.

J.C. Romero (Criollos de Caguas, RP) - BS, 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R (earned), 1 HR allowed - Romero, on the other hand, did allow the aforementioned two-run dinger.  It was not a good night for ex-Indian relief pitchers in Culiacan.

OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

David Vidal (Criollos de Caguas, 3B) - 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 E - While Vidal only had one hit in the Criollos' Serie opener, as mentioned above, it was a big one.  His two errors may hurt his chances of further playing time in the Series, however.

Ivan De Jesus Jr. (Criollos de Caguas, SS) - 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K - De Jesus had the only two-hit effort of the game for Caguas and the team's other home run, a solo shot in the top of the eighth inning.

Chris Roberson (Aguilas de Mexicali, CF) - 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI - Roberson's two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh broke a 1-1 tie and scored both the go-ahead run and eventual game-winning run.

Yuniesky Betancourt (Aguilas de Mexicali, SS) - 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI - Betancourt's eighth-inning homer provided the Aguilas an insurance run.

Orlando Roman (Criollos de Caguas, SP) - ND, 5 IP, 5 H, 2 K, 1 WP - Despite the wild pitch, Roman had a solid start that kept the Criollos in the game for most of the contest.

Daniel Rodriguez (Aguilas de Mexicali, SP) - ND, 6 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 4 K - A lack of early run support kept Rodriguez from earning the individual win.

Jake Sanchez (Aguilas de Mexicali, CP) - S, 1 IP, perfect, 1 K - Sanchez closed out the game with a perfect ninth, which was welcomed by Aguilas fans, players, and coaches alike after Sergio Romo's stress-inducing eighth.

STANDINGS (TOP FOUR ADVANCE TO SEMIFINALS)

Alazanes de Granma (Cuba) - 1-0
Aguilas de Mexicali (Mexico) - 1-0
Aguilas de Zulia (Venezuela) - 0-0
Tigres del Licey (Dominican Republic) - 0-1
Criollos de Caguas (Puerto Rico) - 0-1

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EST.  ALL GAMES ON ESPN DEPORTES)

Zulia vs. Caguas - 5:00 PM
Mexicali vs. Licey - 9:00 PM

We'll be back tomorrow with a recap of all of the action from Day 2 of the Serie del Caribe in Culiacan,


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