Toros del Este defeated Estrellas Orientales 5-3 Saturday, a vintage pitching duel giving way late to a madcap finish. The two Eastern clubs were represented on the mound by two ancient (in baseball years) Cubanos, right-hander Yunesky Maya for Estrellas and lefty Raúl Valdés for the La Romana team. All the scoring was done in the final two innings as each veteran used guile and breaking balls to gut through seven shutout frames.
Each pitcher nearly blinked in the seventh, Valdés coming closest to breaking as the visitors from San Pedro de Macorís mounted a two-out rally. José Sirí and Gustavo Núñez singled and nine-hole hitter Alfredo Reyes drew a walk after a long battle and several close pitches. A clear sense of frustration on the mound led to a lengthy visit from manager Arturo DeFreites, who was ejected when tensions spilled over. No matter, the onetime Met Valdés retired Junior Lake quickly on a soft fly to right. The home team also threatened with two outs, the captain Cristhian Adames flipping a double to left and advancing to third on a single by Carlos Franco. Maya, the former Washington National got light-hitting catcher Francisco Peña on a grounder to second, extinguishing the threat.
Héctor Neris, who summers with the Philadelphia Phillies, came on in the eighth for Toros and quickly allowed what looked like it would be a decisive run. El Niño Fernando Tatís Jr., who continues to stir the drink for the Eastern Stars, singled with one out and moved to third on a single by Frank Schwindel, eventually scoring on a fielders’ choice. The visitors may have had the first word, but they wouldn’t have the last. Toros teed off on relievers Jordan Harrison and Máximo Nelson, slapping four singles in quick succession. Consecutive hits from Rubén Sosa Jr., Jordany Valdespín, and Hunter Pence brought in the tying run, a walk to Teoscar Hernández and single from Ronny Rodríguez giving them two more. There were runners on second and third with two down when the wheels fell off. Anderson Feliz grounded it to second, but what should have been the third out became a circus act when the first baseman strayed off the bag and the pitcher failed to cover. One run scored but the visitors had the second man in a rundown between third and home, that was until the catcher left his post and nobody backed him up.
Now down 5-1, Estrellas did show some fight in the top of the ninth, three consecutive hits driving Ramón Ramírez from the game in favor of closer Fernando Abad. Nuñez singled, moved to third on a double by Reyes, and scored on a wild pitch. Lake scored Reyes with a solid single to center. The lefty Abad came on for his second save in as many nights, this time with less fanfare and a quick double play. Toros improve to 4-2, Estrellas fall to 3-3.