2008 Caribbean Series
From BR Bullpen
The 2008 Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe) was the thirty-eighth edition of the second stage of the Caribbean Series. It was held in Santiago in the Dominican Republic from February 3 through February 8, 2008. The series featured four teams from Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Venezuela. The Tigres del Licey won the Series and were managed by Hector de la Cruz. The Most Valuable Player was Ramon Ortiz, a pitcher with Licey.
- The Aguilas Cibaeñas were the defending champions. They had won a record 20 Dominican League titles and five Caribbean Series. They were managed by Félix Fermín. Prominent names included Miguel Tejada and Rafael Furcal as well as 44-year-old Luis Polonia, one of the greatest players in Series history. The team finished a very disappointing 3-3 in the tournament as they were plagued by poor defense, including four errors by SS Tony Pena Jr. Pena hit .429 but Series legends Tejada (.208) and Polonia (.091) were far less effective at making contact. Despite their struggles, they still placed five members on the Series All-Star team, garnering almost half the spots.
- The Tigres del Licey finished second in the Dominican League but made the Series due to the cancellation of the Puerto Rican Winter League season due to financial problems. The Tigres had won 19 titles in the Dominican Republic and a record nine Caribbean Series. They were managed by Hector de la Cruz. They won their 10th Series thanks to a 5-1 record and two wins over their rival from the Dominican Republic. In addition to MVP Ortiz, their only All-Star was C Matt Tupman, one of the few non-Dominicans on the roster.
- The Tigres de Aragua won their 7th Venezuelan Winter League title in 2007-2008 and their 4th in the past five years, but had never won a Caribbean Series through 2008. The Buddy Bailey-managed team lost Miguel Cabrera, Edgardo Alfonzo and Ronny Cedeno before the Series began due to limitations set by their major league teams. CF Selwyn Langaigne was their only All-Star in the tournament.
- The Yaquis de Obregón had won four Mexican Pacific League pennants and were playing in their third Caribbean Series. Longtime minor league catcher Homar Rojas was their manager. They started 0-4 but won their last couple of games. RF Albino Contreras and DH Robert Saucedo represented them on the Series All-Star team.
 Final Standings
|Tigres del Licey||Dominican League||6||5||1||.833||Hector de la Cruz|
|Águilas Cibaeñas||Dominican League||6||3||3||.500||Felix Fermin|
|Tigres de Aragua||Venezuelan League||6||2||4||.333||Buddy Bailey|
|Yaquis de Obregón||Mexican Pacific League||6||2||4||.333||Homar Rojas|
- Batting Average: .583 - Albino Contreras, Obregón
- Home Runs: 2 - Robert Saucedo, Obregón; Miguel Tejada, Águilas; Jose Bautista, Licey
- Runs Batted In: 6 - Robert Saucedo, Obregón
- Wins: 2 - Ramon Ortiz, Licey
 All-Star Team
- C: Matt Tupman, Licey (.364/.391/.409)
- 1B: Mendy Lopez, Aguilas (.346/.346/.385)
- 2B: Rafael Furcal, Aguilas (.400/.444/.560, 5 R)
- SS: Tony Peña Jr., Aguilas (.429/.429/.571, 5 RBI)
- 3B: Luis Maza, Aragua (.348/.448/.435, 6 R)
- RF: Albino Contreras, Obregón (.563/.588/.688)
- CF: Selwyn Langaigne, Aragua (.357/.357/.593)
- LF: Bernie Castro, Aguilas (.667/.769/.667)
- DH: Roberto Saucedo, Obregón (.346/.370/.577, 5 R)
- RHP: Ramon Ortiz, Licey (2-0, 0 R in 11 2/3 IP)
- LHP: Arnie Muñoz, Aguilas (0 R in 3 1/3 IP, 2 Sv)
 The Games
 February 2
|Win: José Capellán (1-0) Loss: Jose Santiago (0-1) Save: Carlos Marmol (1)|
In a duel of the two Tigres teams, Licey got good production from 2B Ronnie Belliard in a 6-4 victory. Licey scored first when DH Jose Offerman singled and Belliard followed with a home run to left against Jose Santiago. Aragua closed it to a one-run difference when 3B Luis Maza doubled and scored on a hit by SS Alberto Callaspo.
In the 4th, CF Jose Bautista and Offerman singled and pulled off a double steal. Belliard again came through, singling to left in front of Luis Ugueto to drive in both runners for a 4-1 lead. In the 5th, Licey leadoff man and LF Emilio Bonifacio singled. He stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Yosnel Garcia. SS Anderson Hernandez grounded in Bonifacio to make it 5-1.
In the bottom of the 6th, Aragua rallied against veteran pitcher Carlos Pérez. RF and cleanup hitter Robert Perez walked and CF Selwyn Langaigne followed with a single. After two outs, 2B Jose Martinez doubled in Perez. Eddie De La Cruz relieved and Garcia hit a light roller to second but an error by Belliard allowed Aragua to score two more and make it 5-4.
|Win: Denny Bautista (1-0) Loss: Alberto Castillo-Betancourt (0-1)|
Mexico had a good offense but could not contain the many major league stars leading the defending champions, who put this one well out of reach early. In the bottom of the 1st, 2B Rafael Furcal led off with a double. Three walks and a wild pitch by Alberto Castillo-Betancourt drove in a run. RF Victor Diaz doubled home two runs and SS Tony Pena Jr. singled in two more. CF Freddy Guzman added another double to score Pena and make it 6-0 as the Aguilas had batted around in the 1st inning.
In the 2nd, DH Miguel Tejada launched a solo homer against Isauro Pineda to make it 7-2. It was Tejada's 12th career circuit clout in a Caribbean Series, breaking the record held by Tony Armas Sr. Tejada added another homer in the 7th against Julio Jimenez to add to his newly established record.
Overall, Tejada was 3 for 4 with 4 runs and 2 RBI and both 1B Mendy Lopez (2 RBI) and Furcal (2 R) added three hits as well. Defense was one problem for the Dominicans as Pena, Furcal and Guzman each made errors, with Guzman contributing two. SS Alfredo Amezaga led Mexico by going 3 for 5 with a steal, a run and a RBI.
 February 3
|Win: Jailen Peguero (1-0) Loss: Adrian Ramirez (0-1)|
After a high-scoring day one, day two was a pitcher's delight. In this game, Jose Mercedes and Nelson Figueroa turned in the gems. Jose Bautista hit a home run in the 2nd inning against Figueroa to put Licey ahead. The Yaquis rallied in the bottom of the 3rd when LF Reggie Taylor reached on an error by CF Juan Melo, advanced on a single by 1B Carlos Rivera and scored on a liner to left by DH Robert Saucedo.
Mercedes did not allow another run before being yanked in the 7th (having scattered 7 hits); reliever Jorge Sosa would allow only one hit in the next 2 2/3 IP. Meanwhile, Figueroa ran into a little trouble in the 9th when RF Nelson Cruz led off with a double. Figueroa struck out Melo, got Bautista to pop up then froze DH Jose Offerman for a called strike three to end the threat.
In the top of the 10th, C Matt Tupman singled against Figueroa and Adrian Ramirez finally replaced the Obregón starter, who had come up big in the 2007 Taiwan Series and 2007-2008 Dominican League playoffs in the past few months. Bonifacio singled against Ramirez but Tupman was thrown out trying for third thanks to a strong throw from RF Armando Rios. Jesus Colome relieved Sosa but put two men on in the bottom of the 10th and was replaced by Jailen Peguero, who whiffed cleanup hitter Saucedo.
In the 11th, PH D'Angelo Jimenez coaxed a leadoff walk. Hugo Castellanos came in to pitch for Obregón and allowed an infield hit to Cruz that sent Yordany Ramirez (pinch-running for Jimenez) to third. Melo flew out to center, but Bautista hit a fly to right that scored Ramirez as Rios failed to make another key assist. In the bottom of the 11th, Peguero retired Rios, CF Jorge Padilla and 2B Oscar Robles in order to lock up the win.
|Win: Francisco Cruceta (1-0) Loss: Andrew Lorraine (0-1) Save: Arnie Munoz (1)|
The Aguilas got all the runs they needed in the 1st. 2B Rafael Furcal coaxes a four-pitch walk from Andrew Lorraine. C Brayan Pena singled Furcal to third. After DH Miguel Tejada grounded Pena over, 3B Edwin Encarnacion grounded home Furcal. 1B Mendy Lopez then singled to score Pena.
In the 3rd, Venezuela got on the board when DH Luis Ugueto homered off Derek Lee to make it a one-run contest. After that, though, Lee and a number of relievers combined to shut down Venezuela - Francisco Cruceta (2 IP), Joel Peralta (2/3 IP), Randy Choate (1/3 IP), Denny Bautista (2/3 IP) and Arnie Munoz (1 1/3 IP). Three Aragua hitters had two hits apiece but the club stranded 12 runners.
The clutch pitching by the Aguilas made up for 0-for-4 games from all-time Caribbean Series home run king Tejada and all-time Series hit and run leader Luis Polonia.
 February 4
|Win: Giovanni Carrara (1-0) Loss: Justin Lehr (0-1)|
Venezuela went to 39-year-old Giovanni Carrara, fresh off a season in Italy, to start this game and he tossed five scoreless innings before three other relievers finished up the shutout for Aragua. The Tigres got decent offensive production in their first win of the Series. In the 3rd, Justin Lehr ran into trouble with two outs, giving up singles to 3B Luis Maza and SS Alberto Callaspo before walking RF Robert Perez. CF Selwyn Langaigne then singled home Maza and Callaspo. In the 5th, Maza singled then came around on a double by Perez. Maza, Callaspo and Langaigne again played roles in the 9th-inning production of two runs to cap the scoring. Overall, Maza was 2 for 3 with two walks and three runs in the game and Langaigne drove in 3 on 3 hits. For Mexico, only Armando Rios reached base twice and the Yaquis failed to draw even one walk.
|Win: Ramon Ortiz (1-0) Loss: Fabio Castro (0-1) Save: Jailen Peguero (1)|
In a match-up of the two unbeaten Dominican clubs, Licey upset the Aguilas, 5-2, after the Aguilas had had their number in the Dominican League finals a month prior. Ramon Ortiz allowed only 3 hits in 6 2/3 IP against the loaded Aguilas lineup and Oneli Perez kept the shutout going through the 8th.
In the meantime, Licey scored in the 4th when SS Anderson Hernandez singled, advanced on a Fabio Castro wild pitch and scored on a single by RF Nelson Cruz. In the 7th, Aguilas RF Victor Diaz almost scored the tying run but was thrown out at home by LF Emilio Bonifacio after a double by Tony Pena Jr.
In the bottom of the 7th, Licey broke open the game. 3B Jose Bautista coaxed a one-out walk from Castro. With two away, 2B Ronnie Belliard singled. C Matt Tupman doubled to left to score two runs. Santiago Ramirez replaced Castro; his second pitch to CF Yordany Ramirez was deposited into left field for a two-run homer.
In the 9th, the Aguilas got on the board after Jesus Colome came in to pitch. 3B Edwin Encarnacion, 1B Mendy Lopez and LF Bernie Castro all singled to load the bags. Jailen Peguero replaced the ineffective Colome. PH Alexis Gomez hit into a run-scoring force out. SS Tony Pena Jr. grounded home Lopez to make it 5-2, the final margin.
 February 5
|Win: Jesus Colome (1-0) Loss: Victor Moreno (0-1) Save: Carlos Marmol (2)|
Rosman Garcia and Francisco Rosario maintained the pitching duel theme of the last couple of days as neither starter allowed a run. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the 7th. Elio Serrano was on the hill for Aragua, their third pitcher. 1B Jose Offerman singled to open the frame and a wild pitch (or passed ball; MLB.com offered different explanations on different pages) allowed him to move to second. DH Timo Perez laid down a bunt but 1B Richard Paz (installed there only a couple of plays prior) couldn't handle the throw and his error put men on the corners. After 2B Ronnie Belliard lined out, C Matt Tupman was walked intentionally to load the bases. CF Yordany Ramirez hit a grounder to SS Alberto Callaspo, who threw to 2B Jose Martinez for one out. Martinez's throw to first, though, was not in time to nab the speedy Ramirez. Offerman came home with the game's first score.
The Licey lead would not last long. Veteran Aragua catcher Alex Delgado smashed the first pitch of the 8th inning into left field for a home run off Jorge Sosa and a tie game. In the bottom of the 8th, Victor Moreno came in to pitch but provided little relief. The second batter he faced, RF Nelson Cruz, swatted a home run that put the Tigres of Licey ahead 2-1 over the Tigres of Aragua.
Closer Carlos Marmol entered to pitch the 9th and retired Paz, LF Luis Ugueto and Martinez in order for his second save of the Series. Licey was still unbeaten and Aragua was eliminated from hopes of a title.
|Win: Joselo Diaz (1-0) Loss: Dan Serafini (0-1) Save: Arnie Munoz (2)|
The Aguilas remained a game behind their Dominican counterparts while the Yaquis remained winless. In the 2nd, the Aguilas got all the offense they needed. With one out, 1B Mendy Lopez singled against Dan Serafini and RF Victor Diaz walked. An out later, SS Tony Pena Jr. hit a two-run single to center field to put the Aguilas ahead.
Obregón closed the gap in the 3rd. SS Alfredo Amezaga reached on a Victor Diaz error. 3B Oscar Robles hit a potential double play ground ball to Pena, but he made an error as well to put men on the corners. With one out, a wild pitch by Joselo Diaz continued the poor fundamental play of the Aguilas and let Amezaga come home.
In the 4th, Obregón almost tied the game. 2B Carlos Valencia singled. CF Jorge Padilla doubled and Valencia tried to come home. CF Freddy Guzman had a perfect throw to Pena Jr., who relayed home to Brayan Pena to get Valencia in time.
The Aguilas got some insurance in the 5th inning. 2B Rafael Furcal singled but was erased on a fielder's choice hit into by DH Miguel Tejada. 3B Edwin Encarnacion drew a walk. Lopez singled to left to score Tejada, but Encarnacion was thrown out trying to take third on the same play.
In the 7th, the Aguilas wrapped up the scoring when Furcal singled, stole second, took third on a grounder and came around on a wild pitch by reliever Esteban Hernandez.
 February 6
|Win: Nelson Figueroa (1-0) Loss: Oneli Perez (0-1)|
In what would definitely rank as that year's big upset, the Yaquis de Obregón (0-4 entering the game) stunned previously unbeaten Licey with a magnificent comeback in the 9th inning.
Licey seemed to start strong when LF Emilio Bonifacio drew a lead-off walk from Walter Silva, advanced on a ground out and scored on a single by 3B Juan Francisco. The Yaquis quickly tied it when DH Robert Saucedo, a former Mexican League home run king, drilled a 1-1 offering from Omar Beltre over the left field wall to tie the score.
The Dominicans gave the home crowd something to cheer about in the bottom of the 4th. RF Nelson Cruz doubled, then CF Jose Bautista smashed his second home run of the Series to give the Tigres a 3-1 edge. Beltre did not allow anything from the 3rd through the 6th. In the bottom of the 6th, Cruz hit another double and came home on a single by DH Timo Perez for a 4-1 advantage.
Setup man Jailen Peguero retired five Yaquis in a row in the 7th and 8th innings. A hit by #9 batter and catcher Said Gutierrez and a single by SS Alfredo Amezaga put men on the corners. Carlos Marmol came in from the bullpen and struck out Jorge Padilla swinging to end that threat.
Obregón had more to offer, though. In the 9th, 1B Armando Rios, a 2007 Series star, singled. Marmol struck out Saucedo. Rios stole second base. LF Reggie Taylor then ground to second base but Ronnie Belliard let it go between his legs for an error. 2B Carlos Valencia hit a triple into the right-field corner to score Rios and Taylor and close it to 4-3. 3B Oscar Robles, a former major leaguer, then singled out of the reach of Belliard to drive in Valencia and tie the game. RF Albino Contreras laid down a bunt single but Gutierrez grounded into an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the 9th, Hugo Castellanos walked 1B D'Angelo Jimenez. Perez bunted him to second. Yordany Ramirez entered as a pinch-runner and stole third base. Castellanos intentionally walked Belliard. That brought up C Matt Tupman. Obregón manager Homar Rojas went to the bullpen, bringing in Nelson Figueroa. The 2007 Taiwan Series MVP once again delivered in the clutch, getting Tupman to fly out and retiring Bonifacio on a ground ball.
Oneli Perez entered to pitch the 10th inning for Licey, fresh off a 2.10 ERA in AA ball in 2007. He struggled in this game, though. Amezaga led off with a single and advanced on a wild pitch. Despite two foul bunts, Padilla still drew a walk, taking four balls in a row from Perez, not noted for his wildness. Rios flew out. Saucedo took a strike and a ball, then delivered with his second home run of the day, a three-run shot to left field. Perez retired Valencia and Taylor but Licey was clearly in trouble.
In the bottom of the 10th, Figueroa went 1-2-3 against SS Anderson Hernandez, Francisco and Cruz to complete the upset.
|Win: Ivan Blanco (1-0) Loss: Bartolo Colon (0-1)|
The Aguilas failed to gain ground on Licey as both Dominican entries took losses today, the only time that happened this Series.
Singles by LF Bernie Castro, CF Freddy Guzman and 2B Rafael Furcal in the 3rd inning gave the Aguilas a 1-0 lead against Hector Mercado. The lead was short-lived; in the 4th, SS Alberto Callaspo and RF Robert Perez singled off Bartolo Colon. CF Selwyn Langaigne then doubled home Callaspo to tie the score.
Venezuela's single-happy approach continued in the 5th when 2B Jose Martinez, DH Alex Nunez and 3B Luis Maza all singled to make it 2-1; Nunez's hit knocked Bartolo Colon from the game and Francisco Cruceta took his place. In the 6th, Aragua got another run when LF Luis Ugueto singled and scored on a double by Martinez.
The Tigres built their lead very well in the 7th. Denny Bautista relieved and allowed a Nunez single and Maza walk. Callaspo singled to load the bases and Bautista was promptly replaced by Joel Peralta. Cleanup hitter Perez singled to right to bring home two runs and Langaigne hit into a run-scoring double play. The Venezuelans now led by a 6-1 score. 1B Ramon Castro homered to start the 7th and make it 7-1. Martinez doubled again and scored on a sacrifice fly by Maza for the 8th Tigres run. Five Venezuelans finished with multiple hits, including three by Martinez.
The Aguilas tried to make it a contest again in the bottom of the 8th. Orber Moreno began by walking C Brayan Pena. DH Miguel Tejada singled and 3B/cleanup man Edwin Encarnacion hit a home run to make the score 8-4. Francisco Butto relieved and allowed another run before closing off the victory.
Tony Pena Jr. was 3 for 4 for the Aguilas but committed his 4th error of the tournament.
 February 7
|Win: Rolando Valdez (1-0) Loss: Andrew Lorraine (0-2) Save: Francisco Rodriguez (1)|
A day after their first win, the Yaquis got #2, to tie Aragua at 2-4 for last place. They again used a late rally to get their victory.
Venezuela got on the board first, when 1B Richard Paz led off the bottom of the 3rd with a three-bagger and scored on a single. In the 4th, Obregón took the lead. With two outs, DH Roberto Saucedo singled against Jose Santiago, LF Reggie Taylor walked and 2B Carlos Valencia singled home Saucedo to tie the game. RF Albino Contreras followed with another single to drive in Taylor.
In the explosive 9th inning, Andrew Lorraine gave up a lead-off double to Contreras, who was bunted over. PH Alfredo Amezaga was walked intentionally but the move failed. SS Oscar Robles singled home Contreras. Victor Moreno relieved Lorraine. CF Jorge Padilla singled to score Amezaga; Robles was thrown out at third on the play. 1B Armando Rios walked, then Saucedo singled to score Padilla. Taylor, who was 0 for 20 entering the game, then delivered the big hit, a two-run triple that gave the Yaquis a 7-2 lead.
In the bottom of the 9th, the Tigres did not go down without a fight. PH Alex Nunez doubled against new pitcher Hugo Castellanos and PH Luis Ugueto lined to center for a single. SS Jose Martinez hit a sacrifice fly to make it 7-3. 3B Luis Maza singled. Adrian Ramirez came in to relieve Castellanos but could not quench the fire. CF Alberto Callaspo singled in Ugueto for a 7-4 score. Francisco Rodriguez came in to face the potential tying run, cleanup hitter Robert Perez. Perez singled in left to drive home Maza. It was now a 7-5 game. Langaigne, one of Aragua's top hitters in the Series, stepped in now as the potential winning run. He failed to come through, though, grounding to Amezaga, who had stayed in at shortstop. Amezaga got the force at second then threw to first to complete the game-ending double play.
|Win: Ramon Ortiz (2-0) Loss: Alfredo Simon (0-1)|
Despite home field advantage and the better performance in the Dominican League playoffs, the Aguilas again lost to the Tigres as 8 pitchers failed to stop the Licey offensive.
Licey got going early. CF Jose Bautista opened the 2nd inning with a walk and later scored on a double by DH Timo Perez. An inning later, RF Nelson Cruz singled in LF Emilio Bonifacio. The Aguilas rallied in the bottom of the 3rd. José Capellán walked LF Bernie Castro, one of five free passes he gave up in three innings, then 2B Rafael Furcal went deep to tie the score.
The Tigres' roar was heard lowly in the 4th. With one out, 2B Ronnie Belliard doubled. C Matt Tupman laid down a bunt hit and starter Alfredo Simon was yanked. Fabio Castro came in but was ineffective. Bonifacio singled home Belliard and SS Erick Aybar doubled in Tupman. 3B Juan Francisco then delivered a two-run single for a strong 6-2 lead.
Ramon Ortiz replaced Capellán to start the bottom of the 4th and threw five shutout innings despite no strikeouts against a lineup consisting entirely of players with MLB experience, most of them current major leaguers.
Nelson Cruz and Bautista both scored in the 9th against Dario Veras for some added insurance as Licey won its 10th Series title, twice as many as any other team.
|Serie del Caribe (Caribbean Series)
| Most Valuable Player | Serie Interamericana | Confederación de Béisbol del Caribe|
|Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame|