The LIDOM semifinal series got underway on Saturday, following last week’s short play-in series that saw Estrellas Orientales dispatch Leones del Escogido in two straight. The first full round witnesses Estrellas and new Yankee signing Sócrates Brito take on regular-season champion Gigantes del Cibao while Miguel Andújar and Toros del Este draw second-place finishers Águilas Cibaeñas.
Toros Romp in Series Opener
Former Yankee prospect and defending LIDOM MVP Peter O’Brien stole the show in the visiting Toros’ 9-1 triumph, making up for his lackluster regular season. O’Brien went 3 for 3 with two home runs and 6 RBI. His second was a mammoth blast that broke the game wide open in the seventh. Andújar had a rather quiet evening, knocking in a run on a groundout in the second. His only hit of the night came on a soft ground ball up the middle in the eighth inning, by which time the game was all but decided. Andújar hit second for Toros and looks set to occupy an important spot in the lineup for the duration of the postseason.
Melky Cabrera provided the only run of the game for Águilas on a line-drive solo shot in the first inning with the yellow and black completely shut down the rest of the way. Game 2 at Estadio Micheli in La Romana is Sunday.
Estrellas Falls Into Early Hole
Virtually all the LIDOM talk over the last week has centered on the green and white, who welcomed Robinson Cano and Fernando Tatís Jr. to their squad prior to the “mini-playoff” against Leones. Cano quickly asserted his dominance, crushing two home runs in the first game as Estrellas jumped out to an advantage before closing things out the following day. But against title favorites Gigantes, the big bats were held silent. Tatís went 0-for-3 with a walk and Cano banged out two singles, but that was the extent of the damage. Gigantes prevailed 1-0, with their bullpen providing 3.2 innings of hitless relief for Richelson Pena.
LIDOM veteran Brito made headlines earlier this week, signing a minor league deal with the Yankees that included an invite to big league camp, whenever that actually gets underway. It was a rather difficult regular season for Brito, who slashed just .176/.270/.343 playing all 30 games for Estrellas. He’s just one LIDOM season removed from a .799 OPS, but his last stint in MLB did not go well with just three hits in 39 at-bats for the Blue Jays in 2019. Brito went 0-for-3 with a walk in the Estrellas playoff loss on Saturday.
News and Notes
- As Leones were swept out of the postseason, we’ve reached the end of the line this winter for Estevan Florial. The 23-year-old was a bright spot for his squad in the first game, recording three hits, knocking in a run, and stealing a base to help the cause. He was rewarded with the leadoff spot in the order the following day but went hitless. Florial really picked up his play in the campaign’s second half, finishing his regular season with a rock-solid .280 batting average and a .793 OPS…
- Though his Toros appear poised for a deep postseason run, the winter also appears over for Gary Sánchez. His name was not listed on the team roster for the first game of the semifinals, and when he gave a rare and highly insightful exclusive interview with ESPN’s Marly Rivera this week, he spoke about his winter ball experience in the past tense. Andújar and Toros will soldier on without one of their top power threats. Sánchez finishes the year with a .245/.355/.434 slash line. He cooled off significantly after a red-hot start, but overall, the results were encouraging.
- This column has focused exclusively on LIDOM to this point. Let’s take a quick detour over to Puerto Rico, where top pitching prospect Luis Medina picked up right where he left off in an amazing finish to his 2019 MiLB season. Medina has suited up for Indios de Mayagüez in the LBPRC. In four regular-season starts, he gave up seven hits and a single earned run while walking just six and striking out a whopping 32. On Saturday, he started his team’s playoff opener against Atenienses de Manatí and notched the win with five solid innings in his outing.