The Dominican Summer League playoffs started today, with the Pirates2 taking on the Detroit Tigers affiliate. The playoff format is best of three in the first round, with the two best teams in the league getting first round byes. The Pirates2 won the Wildcard spot with a 46-26 record, so they met up against the Tigers, who finished 49-22 on the season. The two teams played each other four times during the regular season, splitting a two game series each time.
The Pirates2 went with rookie Dario Agrazal Jr on the mound today. He defeated the Tigers earlier in the season, though it wasn’t one of his best outings. In five innings, he allowed three runs on six hits and three walks during a 9-6 win. Agrazal finished the year with a 6-0, 2.40 record in 12 starts and one relief appearance. The Tigers went with 19-year-old righty Sandy Baez, who finished the season with an 8-1, 2.05 record.
The Tigers opened up the scoring in the first inning with a lead-off triple, followed by a one out RBI single. In the top of the first inning, Baez struck out the side in order.
In the third inning, the Tigers again struck, this time scoring two runs off Agrazal, both coming with two outs. He gave up three hits and a walk in the inning, getting some help from catcher Yoel Gonzalez, who threw out a runner on the bases.
The Tigers broke the game open in the fourth, hitting a home run to make it 4-0. They also had a triple in the inning, knocking Agrazal out of the game after four innings and making it one of his worst outings as a pro.
While the Tigers were scoring runs rather easily, the Pirates2 were going down weakly at the plate. Through the first six innings, they had just two singles, one by Michael de la Cruz.
Horelbin Ramos came on to pitch the bottom of the fifth for the Pirates2. He got out of that inning with no problem, but the sixth inning wasn’t pretty. Ramos allowed three runs, including the second homer of the day for the Tigers. He had a 2.30 ERA in 19 relief appearances during the regular season, so the Tigers were running up the score against two of the better pitchers the Pirates2 could throw out there.
Baez was done after six innings, but the Pirates2 offense couldn’t do anything against a reliever in the seventh, going down in order. At that point, they had no walks and eight strikeouts.
With the game already out of hand, the Tigers added their third homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to make it 8-0. They tacked on another run off Ramos before the inning was over. During the regular season, Agrazal and Ramos allowed a combined three homers in 103 innings, so that total was matched in just seven playoff innings. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.
The Pirates2 got their first walk in the eighth, with Gustavo Barrios drawing the free pass. He got to second on a wild pitch, the first Pirates2 player to get there, but that’s as far as he got. In the bottom of the inning, the Tigers made it 10-0 on their fourth homer of the day and third off Ramos.
The ninth inning had an odd play you won’t see often. Michael de la Cruz walked to lead-off the inning, then down ten runs, he was thrown out trying to steal. Usually the runner would be able to take second on fielder’s indifference and there wouldn’t even be an attempted throw. The last two batters went down in order, leaving the Pirates2 with two hits and two walks on the day. Only de la Cruz reached base twice.
Overall, it was an ugly loss for the Pirates2, who return home for tomorrow’s crucial game two of the best of three series. They are going to have to bounce back from this one-sided defeat and take two straight from the Tigers to advance to the second round.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.