By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, April 13 – With only three weeks (18 games) to go in the regular Cuban Baseball Season, Pinar del Rio (11 straight wins) is the hottest team as they try to mount a challenge to division leaders La Habana, who are still five games up. On Sunday, Pinar walloped Granma 18-4 behind Pedro Luis Lazo (6-2).
In the East, Ciego de Avila (9 wins in 12) is six games up on Santiago de Cuba (which lost five of six last week) and slumping Villa Clara, 2-10 since the break for the World Baseball Classic.
The playoff race in the Western Division centers on five teams divided by five games and fighting for two tickets to the postseason. Currently Isla de la Juventud is in third place 12 back, Sancti Spiritus, which went three for six last week after winning nine straight, remains in fourth place two games ahead of Matanzas and Metropolitanos, and three over the capital’s Industriales, now 17 games out in seventh place.
In the East, Camaguey inched closer to Holguin on Sunday by winning over Sancti Spiritus star pitcher Ismel Jimenez (11-4). Veteran Vicyoandri Odelin (7-3) picked up the win, almost blown when Sancti Spiritus mounted a four run rally in the bottom of the ninth. Coupled with Holguin’s 5-2 loss to Isla de la Juventud, Camaguey moved four games behind the only contested playoff berth. Isla jumped all over Holguin’s ace left-hander Aroldis Chapman (8-3) for five runs in the third inning.
Batting: Yoandry Garlobo of Matanzas and Yorelvis Charles of Ciego de Avila continue their torrid race for the batting title. Garlobo is now hitting .405 with 77 hits in 190 at-bats, while Charles is at .402 with 109 hits on 271 at-bats. Yusniel Ibáñez of Western cellar-dweller Cienfuegos is third at .396, followed by Giorvis Duvergel .385 and Yulieski Gourriel at .382. Alfredo Despaigne is sixth with .378, just ahead of Michel Enriquez with .373.
ERA: Alfredo Unzue (7-1) of Ciego de Avila has quietly moved into the lead with a 1.63 ERA in 72 innings. His teammate Michael Folch (9-3) is fourth with a .263 ERA. In between are hard throwing Pinar del Rio star Yunieski Maya (9-3) and 1.71 in 116 innings and Yadier Pedroso of La Habana with a 2.17 ERA in 91.1 innings. Both Maya and Pedroso have excellent almost four-to-one strikeouts-to-walks record, 99-29 and 95-28 respectively. La Isla de la Juventud’s Wilber Perez (10-4) has the fifth best ERA at 2.82 in 95.2 innings, followed by Habana’s Yulieski Gonzalez (2.99 in 87.1 innings) and Camaguey’s Vicyoandri Odelin (7-3) 3.10 ERA in 107.1 innings.
This week all teams will play two series, one on Tuesday-Thursday and the other from Friday-Sunday.
Home Team — Visitors
La Habana vs. Isla de la Juventud
Industriales vs. Pinar del Rio
Cienfuegos vs. Metropolitanos
Sancti Spiritus vs. Matanzas
Holguin vs. Villa Clara
Granma vs. Ciego de Avila
Santiago de Cuba vs. Las Tunas
Guantánamo vs. Camaguey
Home Team — Visitors
Industriales vs. Isla de la Juventud
Cienfuegos vs. Matanzas
La Habana vs. Pinar del Rio
Sancti Spiritus vs. Metropolitanos
Holguin vs. Ciego de Avila
Granma vs. Villa Clara
Guantánamo vs. Las Tunas
Santiago de Cuba vs. Camaguey
STANDINGS Through April 12th
|Teams (Western Division)||W||L||Pct||GB|
|Pinar del Rio||42||30||.583||5.0|
|Isla de la Juventud||35||37||.486||12.0|
|Teams (Eastern Division)||W||L||Pct||GB|
|Ciego de Avila||50||22||.694||—|
|Santiago de Cuba||44||28||.611||6.0|