2018 Caribbean Series
The 2018 Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe) was the forty-eighth edition of the second stage of the Caribbean Series. It was played in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico from February 2-8, 2018. It was originally scheduled to be held in Barquisimeto, Lara, Venezuela, but was moved to Mexico because of political unrest in Venezuela. The series featured five teams - from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Venezuela.
Criollos de Caguas, representing the Puerto Rican League, repeated as winners by defeating Águilas Cibaeñas in the finals. It was the fifth title overall for Caguas, allowing them to match Cangrejeros de Santurce for most by a Puerto Rican team, and for second-most overall, also tied with Águilas Cibaeñas (although well behind the 10 titles won by Tigres del Licey). The win was especially important for Puerto Rico given the devastation wreaked on the island by Hurricane Maria in September, which forced the Puerto Rican League to shorten its season, and whose after-effects were still felt all over the island.
|Criollos de Caguas||Puerto Rican League||6||4||2||.667||Luis Matos|
|Águilas Cibaeñas||Dominican League||6||3||3||.500||Lino Rivera|
|Alazanes de Granma||Cuban Serie Nacional||5||3||2||.600||Carlos Martí|
|Caribes de Anzoátegui||Venezuelan League||5||2||3||.400||Omar Lopez|
|Tomateros de Culiacán||Mexican Pacific League||4||1||3||.250||Benji Gil|
- The Alazanes de Granma were in their second straight Caribbean Series after winning the 2017-2018 Cuban Serie Nacional.
- The Águilas Cibaeñas won their 21st Dominican League title. They had won five Caribbean Series, most recently in 2007.
- The Tomateros de Culiacán took their 11th Mexican Pacific League pennant. They won the 1996 Caribbean Series and 2002 Caribbean Series.
- The Criollos de Caguas had won 18 Puerto Rican League championships and four Caribbean Series, including the 2017 Caribbean Series to make them the defending champions.
- The Caribes de Anzoátegui captured their third Venezuelan League title; they last appeared in the 2015 Caribbean Series and had not won any titles.
- Batting Average: .563 - Juan Perez, Cibaeñas
- Home Runs: 3 - Anthony García, Caguas
- Runs Batted In: 8 - Anthony García, Caguas
- Wins: Thirteen tied with one
- C: Willians Astudillo, Anzoátegui (.444/.444/.667)
- 1B: Balbino Fuenmayor, Anzoátegui (.375/.400/.708, 7 RBI)
- 2B: Irving Falú, Caguas (.421/.476/.526)
- SS: Abiatal Avelino, Cibaeñas (.320/.370/.400)
- 3B: David Vidal, Caguas (.238/.385/.429)
- OF: Junior Lake, Cibaeñas (.409/.519/.727, 3-3 SB)
- OF: Roel Santos, Granma (.429/.478/.667)
- OF: Anthony García, Caguas (.500/.556/1.142, 3 HR, 8 R, 8 RBI)
- DH: Luis Jimenez, Anzoátegui (.278/.435/.556)
- SP: Bryan Evans, Cibaeñas (1-0, 1.29)
- RP: Jose Marquez, Culiacán (0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K in 3 1/3 IP)
- Manager: Lino Rivera, Cibaeñas
|Win: Lázaro Blanco (1-0) Loss: Daryl Thompson (0-1) Save: Raidel Martínez (1)|
Cuba jumped on Daryl Thompson to open the bottom of the first. CF Roel Santos singled and went to third on an error by CF Rafael Ortega on the play, then came home on a Yordan Manduley single. RF Yurisbel Gracial doubled home Manduley and it was 2-0 after three batters. From there, Thompson settled down for the next three innings, though Cuba still got several men on base.
The Caribes got to Lázaro Blanco in the third on singles by SS Luis Sardinas and Ortega and a RBI grounder from 3B Niuman Romero. In the 4th, they tied it on a homer by DH Luis Jimenez. Cuba went ahead for good in the 5th. 3B Raúl González singled, was bunted over by Santos and took third on a hit by Manduley, the 9th off Thompson. He was relieved by Carlos Navas, who gave up a sacrifice fly to Gracial.
Cuba got insurance in the 7th. Santos drew a two-out walk from Felipe Paulino, stole second and scored on a Gracial single (who took second on the throw home). Ricardo Hernández came in but gave up a run-scoring single to PH Alexander Ayala. Venezuela closed it to 5-3 in the 8th against Miguel Lahera when RF René Reyes doubled and 1B Balbino Fuenmayor singled him in.
In the bottom of the 8th, Granma got insurance when DH Frederich Cepeda doubled off reliever Victor Capellan and PR Yulian Millán came home on a two-out error by Sardinas on a grounder by González. Venezuela got a shot in the 9th, though. 2B Alexi Amarista singled then Sardinas hit into a force. After Ortega flew out, he stole second and Romero walked. Reyes singled to put the potential tying run aboard. Raidel Martínez came in and balked in one run, then walked Fuenmayor, bringing up the slugging Jimenez. Martínez struck him out to end it.
|Win: Luis Cruz (1-0) Loss: Casey Coleman (0-1) Save: Miguel Mejia (1)|
The defending champs started on a good note, beating the hosts. They started the scoring in the second, facing Edgar Gonzalez. 3B David Vidal, 1B Rubén Gotay and LF Dayron Varona all singled, then C Jonathan Morales drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run. 2B Rey Navarro singled as well and it was 2-0 but CF Rusney Castillo hit into a double play to end the rally. In the bottom of the inning, 3B Ronnier Mustelier hit a two-out single off Adalberto Flores, SS Issmael Salas walked and C Gabriel Gutierrez singled to make it a one-run game.
The teams traded runs in the third. In the top of the inning, SS Jesmuel Valentín singled and scored on a double by RF Anthony García, who moved to third but was caught stealing home to end the inning. In the bottom half, RF Sebastián Elizalde singled, moved to third on a one-out single by 1B Jesus Castillo and came home on a fly from DH Japhet Amador.
The Tomateros took their only lead in the 4th. Flores hit both Mustelier and Salas, then Gutierrez bunted them over. With two away, Elizalde singled them both in. Fernando Cruz, Luis Cruz, Robby Rowland and Miguel Mejia would provide five shutout innings of relief for Flores, though, and Puerto Rico would rally. In the top of the 5th, backup 2B Irving Falú walked, advanced on a wild pitch, took third on a grounder and scored on a two-out hit by García to tie it.
The game was deadlocked till the 8th. Casey Coleman came in to relieve Danny Moskos and García greeted him with a double, his third hit of the day. With one out, Vidal cracked a ground-rule double for what would be the winning hit. Gotay singled to put men on the corners. Nick Struck relieved Coleman but threw a wild pitch to score Vidal then yielded a triple to Varona to make it 7-4, the final score.
|Win: César Jiménez (1-0) Loss: Raúl Valdés (0-1)|
In a match-up of old-timers, Cibaeñas's 40-year-old Raúl Valdés (4 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) and Anzoátegui's 41-year-old Freddy Garcia (4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) did not impress. The difference was the bullpens - Garcia's four relievers combined to allow only two hits, an unearned run and two walks while Cibaeñas's six relievers gave up 15 hits, 11 runs (all earned) and two walks, with only Cesilio Pimentel not allowing a run.
RF René Reyes doubled twice, homered and scored four runs, 1B Balbino Fuenmayor was 5 for 5 with a double, two home runs and five RBI and LF Willians Astudillo and CF Rafael Ortega each rapped three hits, Ortega homering. C Christian Bethancourt had 3 hits in a losing cause.
|Win: Alaín Sánchez (1-0) Loss: Casey Coleman (0-2) Save: Raidel Martínez (2)|
Cuba goes to 2-0 with another close win. Mexico got on the board first, though. In the top of the first, LF Justin Greene singled off Yoanni Yera, stole second and scored on a hit by CF Rico Noel. In the bottom of the third, Cuba came back against Daniel Rodríguez. 3B Raúl González singled and CF Roel Santos hit into an error by 2B Walter Ibarra. After a bunt by SS Yordan Manduley advanced the runners, RF Yurisbel Gracial tied it with a sacrifice fly. Jesus Castillo relieved but gave up a double to DH Frederich Cepeda to give Granma the lead.
The Tomateros rallied in the top of the 4th to retake the lead. Ibarra and C Sebastián Valle singled, chasing Yera after 7 hits in 3 innings. Alaín Sánchez relieved and retired Greene on a sacrifice bunt, but a Noel bunt turned into a RBI single. RF Sebastián Elizalde singled to make it 3-2, Mexico and RF Joey Meneses hit into a run-scoring force for a 4-2 edge.
After Aldo Montes shut down the Alazanes from the 4th to the 6th, he flagged in the 7th. González again got things going, this time with a solo homer to close the gap to one. Santos walked and Nick Struck relieved Montes. After Santos stole second, Manduley got plunked and Struck walked Gracial on four pitches, loading the bases for cleanup man Cepeda. Daniel Moskos came in and got the veteran to hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game. 1B Guillermo Avilés grounded out to end the threat but Cuba had tied it.
In the bottom of the 8th, 2B Carlos Benítez had a one-out single off Casey Coleman and Yoelqui Cespedes pinch-ran. C Yulexis La Rosa singled the runner to third and González hit a sacrifice fly to send Coleman to 0-2 after two days. After Elizalde's hit back in the 4th, meanwhile, Sánchez allowed only one more hits and no runs in the next 4 2/3 innings. After PH Chris Roberson opened the 9th with a double, putting the potential tying run in scoring position, Raidel Martínez was summoned from the bullpen. He set down Greene on strikes, then retired PH Jesus Castillo and Elizalde to end it.
|Win: Francisley Bueno (1-0) Loss: Giovanni Soto (0-1) Save: Josh Judy (1)|
The Dominicans snapped a 11-game losing streak in Caribbean Series play and put the game out of reach early. SS Abiatal Avelino and CF Juan Perez began the day with singles off Giovanni Soto, who then threw a wild pitch. With one out, 1B Edwin Espinal singled them both in. In the second, 3B Héctor Gómez singled, C Carlos Paulino doubled and 2B Gustavo Nunez singled. An Avelino single made it 3-0. That chased Soto after 7 hits to 3 outs. Iván Maldonado came in to pitch. Perez hit a sacrifice fly and LF Junior Lake singled for a 5-0 edge. While the Dominicans pecking away for hits off the Puerto Rican bullpen (7 more of them), they only got one more run, but the damage had been done. Avelino and Lake both finished with 3 hits.
Francisley Bueno became the 4th Cuban to get a decision in five games this Series (they moved up to 3-1) with five shutout innings of work (6 H, 2 BB, 3 K). After Samuel Deduno was bombed for three hits and three runs with no outs, three relievers shut down Puerto Rico the rest of the way.
|Win: Nestor Molina (1-0) Loss: Miguel Pena (0-1) Save: Victor Capellan (1)|
The hosts fell to 0-3 with another close loss. The Caribes got things going quickly when CF Rafael Ortega led off the game with a home run off Rolando Valdez. The home team tied it up in the next inning against Nestor Molina. DH Jesus Castillo singled and advanced on grounders by 3B Ronnier Mustelier and 2B Fernando Perez then C Gabriel Gutierrez singled in Castillo. In the 4th, the teams each got a run. For Venezuela, they had one-out singles from C [[Willians Astudillo] and 2B Alexi Amarista and a two-out single from LF Luis Domoromo. Domoromo would finish the day 3 for 3 with a walk, run and two RBI from the #9 slot. The Tomateros tied it quickly when 1B Joey Meneses doubled and was singled in by Castillo.
In the top of the 6th, Astudillo homered off Miguel Pena to put Anzoátegui in front for the third time. This time, they would not relinquish the lead. In the 7th, Domoromo doubled off Pena and 3B Niuman Romero singled him in with one out for a 4-2 edge. They got crucial insurance in the 9th. Domoromo doubled off Derrick Loop. With two outs, Ryan Kussmaul relieved Loop and allowed a RBI single to RF René Reyes. DH Balbino Fuenmayor doubled and a wild pitch from Kussmaul made it 6-2. In the bottom of the 9th, the hosts did not go down without a fight. Meneses greeted veteran reliever Ricardo Gómez with a double. With one away, Chris Roberson, a former Series MVP, cracked a two-run homer to cut it to 6-4. Perez singled and Victor Capellan relieved Gómez. Japhet Amador batted for Gutierrez and hit into a Romero error to put the potential tying run aboard and the potential winning run at the plate but SS Walter Ibarra hit into a game-ending double play.
|Win: Fernando Cruz (1-0) Loss: Carlos Téller (0-1)|
Caguas set the pace early, scoring four runs before they got their second out. With one out, SS Jesmuel Valentín singled off Carlos Téller, advanced on a wild pitch, took third on a hit by RF Anthony García and scored on a hit by DH Johnny Monell Jr. 3B David Vidal then hit a three-run homer and the rout was on. They tacked on four more in the second off Téller and never looked back.
|Win: Bryan Evans (1-0) Loss: Vladimir Baños (0-1)|
Granma was the last team to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten while the Eagles continued to soar after their first-game disaster. Today, they quickly got to Vladimir Baños as LF Junior Lake had a two-out walk in the first, stole second and scored on a double by 1B Edwin Espinal. In the 5th, now facing Yoalkis Cruz, SS Abiatal Avelino doubled and Lake socked a two-run homer, the 1,000th in Series history.
Bryan Evans was excellent, holding the Cubans to five hits, no walks and one run in 7 while whiffing eight; the only run he gave up was a 6th-inning shot to CF Roel Santos. Santos had 3 of Cuba's 7 hits today. In the bottom of the 7th, the Dominicans padded their lead. Yanier González gave up a double to CF Juan Perez. With one out, Espinal singled in PR Yefri Perez. DH Christian Bethancourt singled. Luis Gómez relieved but allowed a RBI single to RF Ronny Rodriguez and a two-run triple to 3B Luis Valenzuela to cap the scoring.
|Win: Leandro Martínez (1-0) Loss: Joe Colón (0-1)|
With both teams already set to advance to the semifinals, Granma topped Caguas. RF Anthony García hit a two-out homer off Ulfrido García in the first to put Puerto Rico ahead. In the third, Cuba tied it when C Frank Morejón took Jake Fisher deep. In the top of the 5th, 2B Carlos Benítez singled, advanced on a grounder by DH Lázaro Cedeño and scored on a ground-rule double by Morejón. With two outs, CF Roel Santos singled in Morejón for a 3-1 edge.
The lead was very short-lived; in the bottom of the 5th, 1B Rubén Gotay and LF Dayron Varona hit back-to-back bombs for a tie game. Leandro Martínez took over on the mound for Granma in the 6th and was excellent, with four hitless, scoreless innings, walking one. In the meantime, his team was doing damage off the Puerto Rican bullpen. Morejón again got it going in the 7th, with a two-out walk from Joe Colón; 3B Raúl González doubled him in with the winning run.
Cuba got some insurance in the 8th. SS Yordan Manduley singled off Andrés Santiago and RF Yurisbel Gracial walked. LF Frederich Cepeda singled to load the bases, then 1B Guillermo Avilés hit a two-run single to give Cuba the 3-run lead they would finish with.
|Win: Sergio Mitre (1-0) Loss: Ángel Castro (0-1)|
The hosts, already eliminated before today's games, finished a disappointing tournament in which they were last despite outscoring the opposition overall. Meanwhile, the Dominicans were done in by six errors, half of them by outfielders. With one out in the 1st, RF Sebastián Elizalde drew a walk off Ángel Castro and LF Joey Meneses singled, then 1B Jesus Castillo hit into an error by SS Abiatal Avelino. In the 5th, the Tomato Growers tripled their lead. CF Justin Greene had a one-out single off Ranfi Casimiro and Elizalde singled; an error by RF Ronny Rodriguez on the play put both men in scoring position, then Meneses hit into a two-run error by 3B Héctor Gómez.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Eagles got their lone run off Sergio Mitre on singles by Gómez, CF Yefri Perez and Avelino then a sacrifice fly from 2B Gustavo Nunez. In the 6th, Mexico put it out of reach on a two-run triple by 2B Alfredo Amezaga and a two-run homer from Greene.
Standings after Round Robin
|Alazanes de Granma||3||1|
|Caribes de Anzoátegui||2||2|
|Criollos de Caguas||2||2|
|Tomateros de Culiacán||1||3|
Game 11 Semi final
|Win: Robby Rowland (1-0) Loss: Mayckol Guaipe (0-1) Save: Miguel Mejia (2)|
Caguas advanced to the finals to try to defend their title, after having been on the ropes much of the game. In the bottom of the second, Orlando Román walked DH Luis Jimenez and C Tomas Telis. Willians Astudillo singled and a sacrifice fly by 2B Alexi Amarista brought in Jimenez. They then went up 4-0 in the 5th. SS Luis Sardinas singled and Fernando Cruz relieved Román. CF Rafael Ortega singled and 3B Niuman Romero singled in a run, then RF René Reyes smacked a two-run double.
Daryl Thompson was pitching much better than he had in the opener, blanking Puerto Rico for five, but 2B Irving Falú singled with one out in the 5th and CF Rusney Castillo and SS Jesmuel Valentín singled as well as Thompson had gone from one hit allowed to four. Nestor Molina replaced him but the move did not pan out as RF Anthony García hit a grand slam for his third homer of the Series, tying the game suddenly.
In the bottom of the 7th, Venezuela went back ahead. Reyes drew a leadoff walk from Robby Rowland and Jimenez singled with one out, then Telis singled for a 5-4 lead. Puerto Rico came back in the 8th off Mayckol Guaipe. Falú again kicked it off, with a single. He advanced on a Castillo grounder and a passed ball by Telis. Valentín tied the game with a single, then stole second. García was walked intentionally and César Jiménez relieved Guaipe. He uncorked a wild pitch and an error on the play by Telis let Valentín score the winner, but not before the initial call on the field had been overturned in Puerto Rico's favor. Miguel Mejia got the last six batters in order to close it out.
Game 12 Semi final
|Win: Ramon Ramirez (1-0) Loss: Miguel Lahera (0-1) Save: Josh Judy (2)|
The other semifinal also saw one team jump ahead 3-0 only to lose with a comeback that began in the 6th inning. Granma hit fellow Cuban Yuniesky Maya hard int he second. 1B Guillermo Avilés walked and LF Frederich Cepeda tripled him in, then scored on another error by RF Ronny Rodriguez. 2B Carlos Benítez doubled and scored on a one-out single by 3B Raúl González. Ulises Joaquin and five other relievers would hold Cuba to one run the rest of the way, though.
Like Thompson in the earlier game today, Lázaro Blanco was in charge through five shutout innings only to fade in the 6th. LF Junior Lake led off with a triple and Rodriguez hit a two-run homer to close it to 3-2. In the 7th, the Dominicans took the lead for good. CF Yefri Perez singled off Miguel Lahera and SS Abiatal Avelino drew a four-pitch walk. Raidel Martínez, who had two saves in the Series, came in but made a run-scoring error on a bunt by 2B Gustavo Nunez. Lake was intentionally walked to bring up cleanup hitter 1B Edwin Espinal, who delivered a two-run single for a 5-3 edge.
The Eagles got more runs off Alaín Sánchez in the 8th. Perez walked with one out and stole his third base of the Series, then scored on a two-out single by Nunez. Nunez stole as well and Lake singled him home to make it 7-3. In the bottom of the 8th, Cepeda led off with a homer off Wirfin Obispo; the 37-year-old finished the day 3 for 3, a single shy of the cycle, plus a walk, but it would not be enough for Cuba. Cuba got two on board in the 9th against ]]Josh Judy]] but one was caught stealing and Judy retired the always-dangerous DH Alfredo Despaigne to end it.
Game 13 Championship Game
|Win: Andrés Santiago (1-0) Loss: Ramon Ramirez (1-1) Save: Miguel Mejia (3)|
The Dominicans had no difficulty with starter Adalberto Flores. With one out in the game, 2B Gustavo Nunez and LF Junior Lake walked, then with two away DH Juan Perez doubled them in. In the third, Nunez drew a one-out walk again and Lake doubled him in. Caguas got one run back when one Cuban took another one deep - CF Rusney Castillo off Raúl Valdés. In the 4th, the Águilas made it 4-1. Facing reliever Joe Colón, C Carlos Paulino drew a one-out walk and advanced on a wild pitch. Caguas then made both errors of the day - 2B Irving Falú on a grounder by 3B Héctor Gómez and reigning Series MVP 3B David Vidal on a grounder by CF Yefri Perez. After that, Colón worked a shutout 5th, Andrés Santiago turned in two shutout innings and Miguel Mejia bailed out bailed out Robby Rowland (hits to both batters he faced) with a two-inning save, his third save of the event.
Valdés was cruising into the 7th, having allowed only two hits to that point. In that inning, Puerto Rico made their big rally. RF Anthony García drew a leadoff walk and Vidal drew a one-out walk. Ramon Ramirez relieved but threw a wild pitch then allowed a two-run single to 1B Rubén Gotay and the lead was down to one. After LF Dayron Varona singled, Wirfin Obispo came in to pitch but served up a decisive three-run dinger to C Jonathan Morales. They added insurance in the 8th. SS Jesmuel Valentín and Series MVP García both singled. Juan Grullon replaced Obispo and allowed a two-run double to DH Johnny Monell Jr. With one away, Gotay singled in Monell for the last run.
- Jesse Sanchez: "Caribbean Series set to begin today", mlb.com, February 2, 2018. 
- Jesse Sanchez: "Puerto Rico captures Caribbean Series title: 5-run 7th inning propels Criollos de Caguas over Dominican Republic", mlb.com, February 9, 2018. 
- Thomas E. Van Hyning: "Caguas Criollos: Five Caribbean Series Crowns and Cooperstown Connections", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 47, Nr. 1 (spring 2018), pp. 7-16.
|Serie del Caribe (Caribbean Series)
|Most Valuable Player | Serie Interamericana | Confederación de Béisbol del Caribe|
|Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame|