2013-2014 Cuban National League
The 2013-2014 Cuban National League saw some superficial changes (new logos for 9 of the 16 teams, new nicknames for 3) and more substantive ones (regarding salary, the shifting of players like the Gourriel brothers from their home province team) to the Cuban Serie Nacional. As had been the cases in many recent seasons, the most notable news in the off-season had come from defections, including those of defending home run king Jose Dariel Abreu, Dalier Hinojosa, Alexander Guerrero, Miguel Alfredo González) and players suspended for attempted defection (Erisbel Arruebarruena, Raicel Iglesias, Rusney Castillo). After the season, Cuba continued to expand its options for players to appear overseas without defecting, with Alfredo Despaigne returning to Mexico and Frederich Cepeda going to Japan.
The finals began April 7th with Matanzas, the #1 team in the regular season, facing off with #2 Pinar del Río. Both aces faltered as MVP Yosvani Torres (Pinar del Río) allowed five runs and Yoanni Yera (Matanzas) gave up 3 runs in 4 innings before five relievers tossed shutout ball the rest of the way. #9 hitter Guillermo Heredia went 3 for 4 with two RBI for Matanzas while LF Ariel Sánchez homered. In Game 2 (delayed a day by rain in Matanzas), Pinar del Río came back with a 12-5 win. Starter Julio Martinez was roughed up for five runs in the bottom of the 1st, lasting two-thirds of an inning, before the Pinar del Río bullpen shut down Matanzas the rest of the way, with six shutout frames from Vladimir Gutiérrez. On the other hand, Matanzas struggled on the hill all day long, trying 12 different pitchers, only one of which faced more than five batters. CF Giorvis Duvergel went 3 for 5 with a grand slam and 5 RBI to lead Pinar del Río. Lázaro Blanco took the loss.
Matanzas again had trouble finding a pitcher who could get men out in Game 3, trying 10 arms that time, Blanco losing again in a 7-3 decision. Vladimir Baños got the win for Pinar del Río, while Martinez wrapped it up in looking sharper than in Game 2. The star hitter was Matanzas RF Yadiel Hernández, who homered twice, whereas the victors had a balanced attack, led by #9 hitter and SS Luis Alberto Valdés (3 for 4, R, 2 RBI, 2B). On April 12th, Matanzas tied it; the Crocodiles trailed 3-0 entering the 7th with Torres working on a perfect game. He allowed one run in the 7th, though, and was chased with another in the 8th. In the 9th, 3B Raúl González singled off Martinez to drive in the tying run. PH Yasiel Santoya opened the Matanzas 10th with a single, then was bunted over. The speedy Santoya stole third, then Martinez uncorked a wild pitch to score him with the winning run. In the bottom of the 10th, Crocodiles closer Félix Fuentes went 1-2-3 for the save.
Game five presented lots of drama - and more player changes as the teams reached a new record for 49 players used in a finals series. Matanzas seemed set to take a 3-2 series lead by leading 8-5 entering the bottom of the 9th, based off strong games from SS Dainer Moreira (3 R, 3 H) and LF Ariel Sánchez (3 R). In the bottom of the 9th, though, Roel Santos, David Castillo and Donal Duarte all reached against Yera, then William Saavedra drove in Santos with a grounder. Manager Víctor Mesa replaced Yera with Yoelkis Cruz, who reloaded the bases. Mesa next tried Frank San Martín, who walked backup LF Lázaro Blanco (obviously a different Lázaro Blanco than the Matanzas pitcher). Alexander Bustamante was summoned as the fourth hurler of the inning. That brought up Osniel Madera, who came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly. In the 11th, Madera tagged Bustamante again, this time for a game-winning homer.
Rain delayed game 6 to April 16 and threatened on that date as well, but the clouds cleared and the game went on. It was yet another dramatic contest. Matanzas starter Joel Suarez sputtered out of the game, allowing a hit, walk and run while retiring no one before Yoelkis Cruz relieved. MVP Torres got his third try this Series and finally got a win though he was not sharp (5 R in 5 2/3 IP). Matanzas led 3-2 entering the 6th but the Vequeros scored five times in that frame off Cruz and ace reliever Fuentes; the big blow was a grand slam by SS Valdés. Valdés finished with 5 RBI in a 9-6 win, while C Lorenzo Quintana was 3 for 4 with a dinger. 38-year-old C Eriel Sánchez homered, scored twice and drove in two in a losing cause. Cruz took the loss, while Gutiérrez (1 R in 2 1/3 IP) and Baños (a perfect 9th) provided fine relief after Torres left.
|Team||Classification Phase||Secondary Phase||Manager|
|Pinar del Rio||26-19||26-16||Alfonso Urquiola|
|Villa Clara||27-18||23-19||Ramón Moré Flaquet|
|Isla de la Juventud||27-18||13-28||Armando Johnson|
|Santiago de Cuba||24-21||12-30||Luis Larduet|
|Ciego de Ávila||24-21||--||Roger Machado|
|Las Tunas||22-23||--||Angel Sosa|
|Sancti Spíritus||14-31||--||Yovani Aragón|
- Matanzas 4, Villa Clara 1
- Pinar del Rio 4, Industriales 3
- Pinar del Rio 4, Matanzas 2
On January 12, 2014, the All-Star Game took place at Estadio Cristóbal Labra in Nueva Gerona, Isla de la Juventud. The attendance was 5,000. The Oriente won, 4-3. Last year's losing pitcher, Carlos Juan Viera, got the win; Leinier Rodríguez took the loss and Freddy Asiel Álvarez had a save. Alfredo Despaigne scored the winning run in the 8th, doubling off Leinier Rodríguez, advancing on a grounder and scoring on a wild pitch by reliever Hector Mendoza.
- Bold indicates either wooden bat record or aluminum bat record (1976-1977 to 1998-1999), Italics indicate Serie Nacional record
Where two teams are listed, the player switched teams at the half
Offensive and Pitching All-Stars were C Yulexis La Rosa (Villa Clara), 1B William Saavedra (Pinar del Río), 2B José Miguel Fernández (Matanzas), SS Alexander Ayala (Camagüey-Artemisa), 3B Yulieski Gourriel (Industriales), OF Roel Santos (Granma-Pinar del Río), OF Maikel Cáceres (Cienfuegos), Yadiel Hernández (Matanzas), DH Frederich Cepeda (Sancti Spiritus-Artemisa), UT Raúl González (Ciego de Ávila), RHP Yosvani Torres (Pinar del Río), LHP Yoanni Yera (Matanzas) and RP José A. García (Artemisa).
Gold Glove awards went to C Frank Camilo Morejón (Industriales), 1B Ramón Lunar (Villa Clara), 2B Andy Sarduy (Villa Clara), SS Ángel Miguel Fernández (Isla de la Juventud), OF Maikel Cáceres (Cienfuegos), OF Víctor Víctor Mesa (Matanazas), OF Yadiel Hernández (Matanzas) and P Yoanni Yera (Matanzas).