Que palo…un tremendo palo! Las Estrellas Orientales jumped in front of Leones del Escogido Tuesday with a 5-2 win, and the dagger by the visitors was Miguel Sanó’s monster three-run shot in the seventh that untied the score and spun another chapter in the story of this year’s unlikely championship frontrunners.
These perennial also-rans from San Pedro de Macorís, these Chicago Cubs of the Caribbean circuit, this year they might just have a shot. Their lineup is formidable after all, featuring from the top the veteran speed merchant outfielder Junior Lake and the 20-year-old shortstop prodigy Fernando Tatis Jr., in the middle the thumping MLB vet Yasmany Tomás and of course Sanó, who made his seasonal debut Tuesday night.
Sanó, the massive slugger of the Minnesota Twins, was a top international signing as a 16-year-old in 2009. He showed more than enough promise over three productive campaigns following his call-up in 2015, but no baseball career, unless it were cut short, proceeds along an unbroken upward trajectory. By mid June 2018, and the one-time savior Miguel Sanó was back in the minors, struggling with his weight and under the Mendoza line.
The crack of the hometown hero’s bat upon his return Tuesday reminded all present that this was a talent of the Grandes Ligas, back home to reclaim his career.
Still, the visiting offense was moribund until the seventh, scraping across only a first-inning run off Leones starter Enny Romero. (Romero was a reliever of consequence for the Durham Bulls in 2014, when the team reached the Governors’ Cup series) The sole run allowed by the lefty over five innings was scored on a single by Héctor Giménez made possible by Lake’s bunt single and pair of stolen bases.
Radhamés Liz was once again excellent over his four frames, striking out nine and allowing just one earned run but bowing out with a losing hand nonetheless. The capital club had plated two in the third inning on a double by Diego Goris, a two-base error by the first baseman, and an RBI single by Luis Valenzuela. Evan MacLane earned the win for las Estrellas, the tall norteamericano tossing three shutout innings in relief.
Los Verdes mounted their winning rally against Rafael De Paula and Tristan Archer, the former running out of steam and the latter ambushed. De Paula pitched a clean sixth before being whacked with back-to-back doubles by the light artillery of the bottom of the order, Héctor Gómez and Ángelo Mora. The game now tied, the guilty party was lifted in favor of Milwaukee farmhand Archer, who struck out Lake but walked Tatis with two down to set up Sanó in the clutch. Jumbo Díaz grabbed his customary save, putting the finishing touches on a win that vaults las Estrellas Orientales to the top of the standings with five to go in the round robin.