2018 Postseason: Yera sets tone in Cuban Semifinals opening victory
As expected, Yoani Yera used his curveball in Game 1, and also his fastball, a lot, to beat the powerful Granma’s lineup.
Yera was better and better as the game progressed, allowing only 3 hits and an earned run in 6 innings. The left handed threw 121 pitches striking out a Postseason career high of 10, while walked only one.
Yera's 10 Ks vs GRA, 4-1-2017
After having runner in third base in the first inning, Yera struck out Alfredo Despaigne for the first time in the game to end the inning. It was just his first strikeout of the night and a great start for the veteran starter.
When Yera left the game after six excellent innings, his work in Game 1 can be summarized like this:
Yoani Yera SP / Matanzas (2018 Semifinals Game 1)
IP: 6 H: 3 R: 1 ER: 1 BB: 1 K: 10 Pitches: 121
Jonder Martínez was excellent in relief
Martínez entered the game in the seventh inning and, the regular season starter turned postseason setup man, pitched into the ninth. His final line:
Jonder Martínez RP / Matanzas (2018 Semifinals Game 1)
IP: 3 H: 1 R: 0 ER: 0 BB: 1 K: 1
The Crocodiles received strong work from Jonder, who ended saving his 9th Postseason Game, and they also spared some other relievers from pitching innings they'll need in the series.
Lázaro Blanco had one of his worst starts
Right away, it was easy to tell Blanco was not sharp in Game 1. He had Aníbal Medina, the first batter he faced, in a 1-1 count, and left a ball all over the plate and Medina ripped a booming double into the left field. Blanco didn’t escape the first inning without allowing a run, when shortstop Yordan Manduley made a defensive error.
Blanco was able to keep the score close (1-0) for the next two innings, but in the fourth, the right handed allowed three singles, walked one hitter and hit another, to give Matanzas a 3-0 lead.
When it was all said and done, the Crocodiles tagged Blanco for four runs on six hits and six walks in four innings, for his fifth career Postseason loss.
Granma’s manager, Carlos Martí made questionable decisions in Game 1. Knowing two things: the injury of one of his best outfielders on Yoelkis Céspedes, and, the need to score runs against Matanzas ace, Yera, Martí excluded the season HR leader (20) and team RBI leader (71) on Lázaro Cedeño, while using veteran third basemen Raúl González to prioritize his defense. The result: González went 0-for-4 with one K, while defensively made a costly error in the sixth inning, when Matanzas scored three decisive runs.
The use of his relievers was also difficult to explain. Leandro Martínez came on relief of Blanco in the 5th, but it was removed an inning later, with one out and after issuing a walk. Right handed César García was victim of González error that loaded the bases, and then walked Cepeda for Matanzas 5-1 lead. García could not get an out and was pulled from the game. Erluis Blanco entered the game easing the last two Matanzas runs.
Matanzas, 32-14 at home this season, will send season ERA leader (1.69), right-handed Roy Hernández to the mound in Game 2 at 5 p.m. ET on Friday at Victoria de Girón. Granma, trying to even the series, will use left handed Ulfrido García.
2018 Semifinals (Best-of-seven series)
Game 1: Matanzas 7, Granma 1
Crocodiles are up 1-0 in the series
Game 2: At Victoria de Girón Stadium, Friday, Jan 6, 5 P.M.
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