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65th Caribbean Series: Late Reaction — Game 5 Analysis

—Again the Agricultores' offense came up short, dominated by the Vaqueros de Montería




Colombia defeated Agricultores de Cuba 5-4 in their first match in Caribbean Series history, displaying the talent of young players who will try to defend their 2022 title in Gran Caracas.



A few minutes before the first Caribbean Baseball Series matchup between Cuba and Colombia began, when the official lineups were announced, there was a noticeable difference between the Venezuelans and the Cubans. It wasn't even about statistical comparisons. This fifth day in Gran Caracas opened with the Vaqueros leading this Caribbean Series in doubles (10), slugging (.400), walks (23), stolen bases (12) and OPS (.771). However, the biggest difference was the promising future of most of its players.

His lineup featured a mix of youth and talent. By looking at the ages of each player in the lineup this Monday to face Agricultores, it was easy to predict who team would be "unstoppable":


Vaqueros de Montería

-The average age of hitters is 22.8 years old

-Younger hitters: Brayan Buelvas and Dayan de Jesús Frías, who turn 21 next June

-Trend: Eight batters aged 25 or younger, including two 20-year-olds, three 22-year-olds and one 23-year-old

-The oldest hitter: Dilson J. Herrera, 28-year-old


Agricultores de Cuba

-The average age of hitters is 34.7 years old

-Younger hitters: Raico Santos (29-year-old) and Guillermo Avilés (30)

-Trend: Eight hitters are 30 or older, including five who are 38 or older

-The oldest hitter: 40-year-old Yordanis Alarcón


As you can see, both timelines have considerable differences. This is not to say that youth is the only key to success for a baseball team. Youth and experience are often the most effective complements, but without a doubt, cohesion is the most influential factor.


Aside from those fundamentals that strengthen Team Work, the trends of Agricultores and Vaqueros were set by two groups at separate times in their respective careers. The Colombian Professional Baseball League showed remarkable progress and a glimpse of what's to come. And Cuba? There are a few veterans who, as we have seen in Gran Caracas these days, haven't been able to maintain the winning rhythm.


Furthermore, Agricultores has witnessed again - as they did with most Cuban teams in international competitions over the past decade — the game philosophy that only prevails today in Cuban baseball, driven by the regression of pitching to a substantial extent. That perspective led me to enjoy this morning's game at La Rinconada Baseball Stadium - and perhaps it did the same for you, dear reader.


Despite my pessimism, I expected a reaction from the Cuban team. The Vaqueros de Montería came out ahead with a double by A's prospect Jordan Díaz, 22, against Jonathan Carbó, who also had issues in the third inning against the Dominican Republic. Cuba's offense responded with two runs in the top of the fourth inning, thanks to a single by Yordanis Alarcón. However, the Vaqueros were able to turn the tide quickly.


The third time Carbó faced the Vaqueros lineup, he was unsuccessful: a single by Dayan Frías, Gustavo Campero's two-run home run and Francisco Acua's long shot sent Carbó back to the dugout. As Yoel Mogena threw pitches with more rotation than speed, Acua advanced to third base after a throwing error by Yosvany Alarcón.


Vaqueros 5, Agricultores 2. Cuba had the eternal mission of starting over in every offensive inning of this Caribbean Series. Rafael Viñales' RBI double and Andrés De La Cruz' single closed the score, 5-4, after reliever Oscar Marcelino put two runners on - Denis Laza and Yordanis Alarcón. Despite having runners on the corners, Agricultores could not take the lead, the right-handed Samuel Burgos dominating Osvaldo Abreu and Yuniesky Larduet to end the inning.


Two thirds of the game had gone down in history. Among the next nine Cuban hitters, only Yordanis Alarcón reached base in the eighth - Yordanis went 3-for-3 in the game - but after breaking his 0-for-16 drought in the sixth inning, Viñales grounded into a double play to put an end to the threat in that eighth episode. In the ninth, closer Jhon Peluffo posted Colombia's third consecutive bullpen zero to end the game.


Agricultores fought again, there's no doubt about that, but they lost their fifth game in a row, the second by one run. In each of those games, the offense was criticized as lacking. This Monday, Agricultores opened the fifth day of the Caribbean Classic with the poorest OBP (.252) and OPS (.515), just one stolen base—it was from the leadoff, Yuniesky Larduet—and the worst negative strikeouts over walks ratio (-17, 22 K and 5 BB).


When we analyze the offensive production, the Vaqueros de Montería doubled Agricultores' runs in the tournament, 24 to 12. It seems we agree once again on the first point I addressed in this column: any team can win a baseball game, but if it's about talent, Colombia has plenty of reasons to show off. *


*One of the collective skills I found most impressive was their defense, particularly the skills of shortstop Dayan Fras, centerfielder Jess Marriaga, and second baseman Francisco Acua.


Even so, Cuba pitched well enough to stop one of the tournament's most consistent lineups. Between the sixth and eighth innings, Yoel Mogena and lefty Miguel Paradelo held the Vaqueros to zero runs. During the last third, they retired 11 batters in a row. However, the offense could not respond, letting their hopes of qualifying for the semifinals in Gran Caracas fade away.



Colombia 5, Cuba 4/Final: A review


Final Numbers


Cuba (1-4): 4-6-2 (R-H-E)

-BATTING-

2B: Yos. Alarcón (2, Consuegra); Vinales (1, Marcelino)

RBI: Vinales (1), Yor. Alarcón 2 (3), De La Cruz (4)

RBI 2 outs: Yor. Alarcón 2

GIDP: Vinales

Team RISP: 3-8 (Avilés 0-1, Abreu 0-1, Vinales 1-1, Larduet 0-2, Yor. Alarcón 1-1, De La Cruz 1-1, Laza 0-1)

Team LOB: 6

-FIELDING-

E: Yos. Alarcón (2, throwing); De La Cruz (2, throwing)


Colombia (3-2): 5-8-0 (R-H-E)

-BATTING-

2B: J. Díaz (2, Carbó); Campero (4, Carbó)

HR: Campero (1, 5o entrada ante Carbó 1 en base, 0 Out)

RBI: J. Díaz 2 (9), Campero 2 (4), Marriaga (3)

RBI 2 outs: J. Díaz 2

Team RISP: 2-6 (J. Díaz 1-2, Buelvas 0-1, Marriaga 1-2, Pertuz 0-1)

Equipo DEB: 4

-RUNNING THE BASES-

SB: Acuña (2, 2o base de Mogena/Yos. Alarcón)

-FIELDING-

DP: 1 (Pertuz-Acuna-Herrera)


Notable Slash lines: On a perfect afternoon, Yordanis Alarcón went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, and Andrés De La Cruz (1-for-3, RBI) added his fourth RBI in a clutch situation. Cuba's only extra-base hit in this Caribbean Classic came from Rafael Viñales (1-for-4, RBI).


Performance of pitchers:

-Jonathan Carbó (0-2): 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR

-Yoel Mogena: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

-Miguel Paradelo: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 HR


Strikes/Batters facing on the first pitch: Carbó 16/20; Mogena 2/7; Paradelo 2/6

Strikes called-Strikes fanned-Foul balls-Strikes in play: Carbó-11-9-14-15; Mogena-4-5-9-5; Paradelo-5-3-4-4

Ground balls and fly balls: Carbó 3-5; Mogena 0-5; Paradelo 3-1


How did victory escape?: For the second consecutive day, batters first through fifth in the lineup have been stopped. Yesterday, they went 2-for-19 (with the first three hitters going 1-of-16), and on Monday, they were 1-for-18. Based on the last two games, Yosvany Alarcón has been the only player to have at least one hit:


Lineup order/Hitter

1- Yuniesky Larduet: 1-for-9

2- Raico Santos: 0-for-6

3- Yordanis Alarcón (0-for-4)/Guillermo Avilés (0-for-4): 0-for-8

4- Yosvany Alarcón: 2-for-8, 2B

5- Rafael Viñales (0-for-3)/Denis Laza (0-for-3): 0-for-6


What adjustments should they make?: Returning to the previous point. When five of the top hitters in the lineup don't produce in the first five at-bats, it's difficult for the last four to get enough offense in order to win.


As a point of reference, we should keep the following in perspective: Agricultores' lineup has missed 67 swings (20.8%), almost double their 36 batted hits.



(Photos: CBPC/AP)

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