By Carlos Torres Bujanda
HERMOSILLO, Mexico.–After a flamboyant opening ceremony where Fernando Valenzuela threw out the first pitch to an standing ovation from a sellout crowd of 16,000, Mexico's Yaquis de Ciudad Obregón, shut out Puerto Rico's Criollos de Caguas 3-0 in the nightcap of the opening day of the Caribbean Series.
Royals righthander Luis Mendoza threw the first six innings of the shutout holding Puerto Rico to three hits and two walks while striking out three. Ex-big leaguer Dennis Reyes combined with Jose Cobos, Adrian Ramírez, and Oscar Villarreal to keep the shutout going. Baltimore Orioles righthander Luis Ignacio Ayala picked up the save.
Major League veteran infielder Alfredo Amezaga got Mexico on the board with an RBI double in the third. Outfielder Marlon Byrd, currently a Mets minor leaguer, drove in the other two runs with a double to center field in the sixth.
Kelvin Villa (0-1) took the loss after as he allowed two runs in five innings, with thee hits, three bases and five strikeouts. Jhonny Monell and Luis Mateo were 2-for-4 for Puerto Rico.
On Saturday, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico will play in the first game at 1 p.m. (MT). Mexico will send Rodrigo Lopez to the mound for their 5 p.m. (MT) game against Venezuela.
Leones del Ecogido Top Navegantes Del Magallanes
Angel Castro (pictured at right) threw seven scoreless innings and Francisco Pena hit a two-run home run as the Dominican Republic's Leones del Escogido defeated the Navegantes del Magallanes from Venezuela 7-2 in the opener of the 2013 Caribbean Series Hermosillo 2013.
The Dominican Republic's squad is the favorite in this year's Caribbean Series as they have a roster filled with big league veterans. Hanley Ramirez is on the roster for his second Caribbean Series. He's joined by veterans like Miguel Tejada (who recently signed a minor league deal with the Royals).
“For me it's always been an honor to wear the Dominican Republic uniform. They know I will always be there for my country”, Tejada said. Fernando Tatis and Jose Lugo are on the team as well, with both saying this will be their final Caribbean Series.
“Baseball has brought me a lot of good things. Now in my final season to get two championships with Escogido and one Caribbean Series crown would be great to finish my career," Lugo said.
In the bottom of the fifth inning Dominican Republic took the lead of the game with a four runs rally, including Pena´s two run homer.
Castro, who last pitched in the U.S. in 2009, allowed three hits and two runs in seven innings of work. He struck out seven while walking no one.
Ricardo Nanita went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Reggie Corona homered for Venezuela.