Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cuban Baseball Grand Finale Begins

Circles Robinson*

Havana, Apr 18 (Prensa Latina) Everything is set for the rematch best-of-seven championship baseball series between Industriales, last year's winners, and Santiago de Cuba beginning Wednesday evening in Santiago.

When it comes to baseball in Cuba the lines are pretty much drawn. Industriales is the big favorite in Havana, the capital, and Santiago de Cuba the hope of most other islanders.

One of the big questions is whether Industriales pitching (3.20 ERA), second in the league during the regular season will prevail over Santiago's league leading hitting (.303 average). Santiago also has respectable pitching, (3.59 ERA) and Industriales hitters can swing the bat (.285 average).

Industriales had a relatively easy time in winning the quarterfinal playoffs 3-1 over Sancti Spiritus and then swept Havana (the team of the province that surrounds the capital) 4-0 in the semifinals.

Santiago won more games than any team in the league during the regular season (57-32 record) but had to fight hard in both the quarterfinals and semifinals beating Camaguey three games to two and Villa Clara 4-3.

In its eight playoff games Industriales had an excellent 1.77 team ERA allowing only 14 earned runs in 71 innings. At the plate the team managed by Rey Anglada hit .285, exactly the same as during the regular season, including 7 home runs and 18 doubles to score a total of 45 runs.

Santiago played 11 games and its team ERA was 3.66, allowing 40 earned runs in 98.1 innings. If it hadn't been for their hard hitting in the final two games against Villa Clara (16-3 and 18-8) the Eastern Division champs wouldn't be where they are tonight.

Over all Santiago, managed by Antonio Pacheco hit .324 with 11 home runs and 28 doubles to score 75 runs.

On defense Santiago has 11 errors so far in the playoffs to Industriales 7, and turned 14 double plays to Industriales 10.

The scheduled pitchers for tonight's game are two right-handers, veteran Norge Luis Vera, 35, for Santiago and 22 year-old Frank Montieth for Industriales.

*Circles Robinson is a US journalist living in Havana. His reports and commentaries can be read at: www.circlesonline.blogspot.com

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