The Aguilas Cibaenas mascot celebrates at Citi Field in Flushing, New York. (Photo: Gordon Donovan) (Photo by Gordon Donovan/NurPhoto via AP)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
NEW YORK – Blue skies and scattered clouds spread over the chilly fall sky at Citi Field for the second game of the Titanes del Caribe series, as seven Aguilas Cibaenas pitchers threw a combined one-hitter to beat the Tigres del Licey 3-0.
The Tigres del Licey has had just three hits during the Titanes del Caribe event against the Aguilas Cibaenas pitching staff.
The Aguilas Cibaenas pitching staff allowed six walks and struck out 14 batters during the second game of the exhibition series.
But first, there was an hour-long delay before the start of the game.
According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, “the Federación Nacional de Peloteros Profesionales, which is the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball Players Union operated by former Major Leaguer Erick Almonte, had issues with the organizers of the event Cerro Music Group, Zamora Live, and Felix Cabrera Presents, with not depositing the money right away for the second game of the series which was supposed to start at 1 p.m. EST instead of having first pitch at 2:05 p.m. EST.”
Tigres del Licey starting pitcher Cesar Valdez was used as an opener and threw one inning, allowing no runs, no walks, and no strikeouts, retiring the first three batters of the game before manager Jose Offerman called upon pitcher Nabil Crismatt to start the top of the second inning.
“The idea was to have the three starters go today. Cesar was able to go one inning. That was the idea. So were the other two pitchers. The way we planned it, is the way we did it today. That’s the idea that everybody has the opportunity of what they need to do and be ready for when we go back to the Dominican Republic,” Offerman said during the postgame press conference.
In the top of the second inning, Aguilas designated hitter Daniel Palka scored on a wild pitch during right fielder Alexander Canario’s at-bat for the first run of the game.
Aguilas manager Tony Pena would go to his bullpen early during the top of the third inning to take out starting pitcher Ariel Miranda. Miranda threw 2.2 innings with 71 pitches and did not allow a hit, walking four batters, and striking out seven through facing 12 batters as relief pitcher Yohan Ramirez entered the game.
“Miranda did a great job. One of the things about Miranda that he was on it. He told me had a tough time feeling the ball in his hands. And the one scenario [where]I would not take Miranda out, since he was honest with me, that he felt great when he told me in the dugout,” Pena said during the postgame press conference. “It’s great to see the way those guys are playing the game. It means we are enjoying ourselves and we get that team back together. Hopefully, whenever we go back to the Dominican Republic, we continue to play the same way we have played right here.”
During the top of the fourth, Offerman put Steven Moyers on the mound. With two outs and Aguilas center fielder Gilberto Celestino up, Moyers threw a wild pitch in the dirt that went past catcher Michael De La Cruz to the backstop and Aguilas first baseman Elehuris Montero came in to score to extend the lead to 2-0.
In the top of the fifth inning, Montero hit a ground ball up the middle, scoring pinch runner Yefri Perez to make it 3-0.
Aguilas relief pitcher Junior Hernandez was the only arm out of the bullpen that gave up two walks during the bottom of the seventh inning after Miranda was taken out in the bottom of the third.
Aguilas relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez tried to record the final three outs of the potential combined no-hitter, but the Tigres’ Orelvis Martinez had other plans. With one out, he lifted a fly ball to right field, and as right fielder Alexander Canario attempted to extend his glove to snag the ball before it touched the grass, he came up an inch or two short of preserving the no-hitter. The umpires reviewed the play for a few minutes and confirmed the call, giving Martinez the Tigres only hit of the game.
Rodriguez got Tigres second baseman Robiel Garcia to fly out to right field for the final out of the game.
Tigres del Licey’s offense continued to stumble at the Titanes del Caribe series against their arch rival. They were no-hit by the Estrellas Orientales on November 7, losing 2-0 with five walks and eight strikeouts.
A total of 33,131 fans were in attendance at Citi Field Saturday, setting a new LIDOM attendance record.
Tigres is currently in second place during the 2023-24 regular season at 10-8 and are 3.5 games back of first place Gigantes del Cibao at 14-5. Aguilas is in last place at 5-13 in the regular season and are 8.5 games back of first place.
Both franchises will return to the Dominican Republic after the three-game exhibition series to play each other on November 14 in Santiago at Estadio Cibao at 6:30 EST and on November 15 in Santo Domingo at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal at 6:45 EST.
The Titanes del Caribe third and final exhibition game series with Águilas Cibaeñas and Tigres del Licey will start at 1:00 p.m. EST on Sunday at Citi Field and will be streamed live on https://telecentro.com.do/telecentro-en-vivo/.