56 NS: Cuban Series Winding Down; Matanzas Breaks Cuban Win Record
The Cuban League is now down to the last four teams for the playoffs. Matanzas, Ciego de Avila, Villa Clara and Granma appear to be the final four teams with Holquin and Camaguey being eliminated. The four teams will then play it off to see who represents Cuba in the Series del Caribe, though the winning team can add players to their roster to enhance their lineup or rotation. If Granma does not make it to the finals expect Alfredo Despaigne to represent the winning Cuban team in the Series del Caribe. In the past the previous year’s champion (Ciego) represented Cuba in the Series del Caribe so this may be for next year’s representation.
Jefferson Delgado of Matanzas is the leading hitter in the Cuban League with his .407 average. Osvaldo Vazquez from Ciego de Villa is the leading homerun hitter with 17 though Alfredo Despaigne rarely plays in the league anymore once he signed a contract to play in Japan. Yordanis Samon of Matanzas has edged Vazquez in the RBI race by two 74 to 72. Yordanis drives his runs in by hitting the balls in the gaps, leading the league in doubles with 26 while adding 10 homeruns.
On the pitching front Lazaro Blano from Granma has the ERA lead with 1.70. Alain Sanchez from Villa Clara is the only other pitcher with an ERA under 2.00 (1.80). Blanco also leads in wins with 13. The strikeout crown appears to be in the hands of Matanzas Yoanni Yera, who is always messing with my spell check when his name is automatically converted to year. He has 119 whiffs in 111 innings, rare for a Cuban pitcher to elicit more whiffs than innings pitched. Vladimir Garcia from Ciego de Avila is 14 whiffs behind, but he has pitched in 152 innings.
The 69 wins by Matanzas is the most ever by a Cuban team in the Series Nacional. The previous record had been 66 by the Industriales. With one more game in the round robin Matanzas can go for 70 wins and add on to that win total with the four game playoffs. They are currently playing at a .775 winning percentage.
Of the four teams appearing in the four team playoffs Granma and Matanzas have yet to win a championship. Matanzas has come close by going into the playoffs with the best record, but they have yet to close it off with a championship win. Ciego and Villa Clara have a number of championships under their belt, with Ciego coming into this as defending champions.
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