2009-2010 DOMINICAN BASEBALL FINAL SERIES (Serie Final Beisbol Liga Dominicana)
GAME 1 – 1/18/10
GIGANTES 2, ESCOGIDO 1: Leones lefty Francisco Liriano (Twins) ran his string of innings without allowing an earned run to 37 2/3, but one unearned run and the equally effective pitching of the Gigantes’ Jose Capellan resulted in a tie game that lasted through the seventh-inning stretch. LF Fernando Martinez (NY Mets) homered in the third for Escogido’s only score, but the game was decided on a two-out, seventh inning blast by the Gigantes Alexi Casilla(Twins) off Cincinnati Reds closer Francisco Cordero. Dario Veras worked a perfect ninth for the save, and Gigantes skipper Felix Fermin got an early leg up on his bid to win a sixth Dominican League title as a manager. He earned five titles –including two Serie Final wins over Escogido– with the Aguilas in the last decade.
GAME 2 – 1/19/10
GIGANTES 1, ESCOGIDO 0: Alexi Casilla (Twins) was the hero for the second night in a row, driving in the only run of the game in the sixth inning following a bunt single and a sacrifice. Escogido’s Nerio Rodriguez took the loss despite seven strong innings, bowing to Aquilino Lopez and the Gigantes bullpen. Wilson Valdez (Phillies) bunted his way aboard to start the winning rally, Lucas Montero moved him over, and Casilla recorded the GWRBI for the second straight day. With the tying runner in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth, Dario Veras popped up Brayan Pena and struck out Carlos Gomez (Twins). The Gigantes lead the best-of-nine final series two games to none.
GAME 3 – 1/20/10
ESCOGIDO 13, GIGANTES 4: LF Fernando Martinez (Mets) went 5-6 for five RBIs –falling a triple short of the cycle– to lead a 21-hit Leones attack as they clawed their way back into the series. Shortstop Joaquin Arias (Rangers) chipped in four hits of his own, and Willie Otanez drove in three. Aided by three unearned runs, Escogido led just 4-1 at the start of the eighth before pouring it on against the Gigantes bullpen. Winning pitcher Nelson Figueroa (Mets) and his relievers held down the Gigantes, save for Wilson Betemit (Royals), who homered twice and drove in all four runs.
GAME 4 – 1/21/10
ESCOGIDO 3, GIGANTES 2: The Leones evened up the series behind another strong start by winning pitcher Edward Valdez, who’s now 4-0 with a 1.45 ERA this post-season. SS Joaquin Arias (Rangers) ripped a two-run homer among his two hits to lead the offense, and relievers Merkin Valdez (Blue Jays), Jose Veras and Santiago Casilla (SF Giants) allowed just one baserunner over the final three innings. Veteran Victor Zambrano, who went 0-4 in the Venezuelan League this winter, started and lost for the Gigantes.
GAME 5 – 1/23/10
GIGANTES 3, ESCOGIDO 2: Leones lefty Francisco Liriano (Twins) ‘s string of 40 innings without allowing an earned run was snapped in the third on a bases-loaded double by Juan Francisco (Reds). Francisco picked up a third RBI on a single two innings later, and that was enough for red-hot Jose Capellan, who’s now 3-0, 2.03 in the playoffs on the heels of a 7-3, 2.15 regular season. Kevin Barker’s two-run shot off Capellan in the sixth brought Escogido within a run, but three Gigantes relievers combined to strike out seven over three hitless innings to finish it. Dario Veras whiffed Game Three hero Fernando Martinez (Mets) for the final out with a man on first.
GAME 6 – 1/24/10
ESCOGIDO 5, GIGANTES 4: Wilkin Castillo’s two-run single was the first of three straight run-scoring hits with two outs in the Escogido half of the third, as the Leones put a four spot on the scoreboard to seize control of the game. Southpaw Heath Phillips whiffed seven over six strong innings for the victory, and Escogido evened the final series at three games apiece after withstanding a ninth-inning scare. Alexi Casilla (Twins) stroked a bases-loaded triple for the Gigantes to make it a one run game, but Escogido closer Santiago Casilla (Giants) struck out Nelson Cruz (Rangers) and retired Juan Francisco (Reds) on a ground out to nail down the victory.
GAME 7 – 1/25/10
GIGANTES 2, ESCOGIDO 0: The pivotal seventh game saw the two teams go a combined 0-16 with runners in scoring position and beating the ball into the ground for a combined 27 infield outs. The Gigantes bounced into four doubles plays and failed to record a single extra-base hit, but managed to prevail on a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh after an error by Leones 1B Kevin Barker. Antonio Bastardo (Phillies) earned the win in relief of Victor Zambrano after recording three of his five outs on strikeouts, and Dario Veras made it four saves in four Gigantes final series victories. Nelson Figueroa (Mets) was the hard luck loser.
GAME 8 – 1/27/10
ESCOGIDO 4, GIGANTES 3 (11 innings): The Dominican final series is heading to a decisive Game Nine tomorrow. The Leones were two outs from being eliminated when pinch-runner Gilberto Mejia scored on Wladimir Balentien’s groundout in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings. In the last of the 11th, DH Brayan Pena greeted reliever Pedro Viola with a two-out, bases loaded, line drive single to center. Gigantes 1B Wilson Betemit (Royals) appeared to be the hero in the top of the ninth, when his second homer of the game broke a 2-2 deadlock that had stood sincce the fifth inning. Jose Capellan pitched well again, but it went for naught as a pair of unearned runs helped Escogido hang around long enough for Pena to win it.
GAME 9 – 1/28/10
ESCOGIDO 5, GIGANTES 2: The Leones del Escogido won their 13th Dominican League title –and first in 18 years– behind the overpowering pitching of Francisco Liriano (Twins). Liriano limited the Gigantes to a lone infield single over five shutout innings in which he struck out 10. Opposing starter Victor Zambrano didn’t surive the third, as the Leones seized control with a Wladimir Balentien longball to break the ice, and a strong game by 3B Alex Valdez (Angels). Valdez (2-4 with a double) drove in or scored the other four Escogido runs, dashing the championship hopes of the Gigantes, who pulled within 3-2 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth. Congratulations to manager Ken Oberkfell and his players!