The Tijuana Toros started off their 2018 LMB season on Thursday as the border city side hosted Acereros del Norte at the Estadio Gasmart.
The first of the three-game series started off with a spectacular inaugural ceremony that included cheerleaders, mascots, fireworks, a performance by “Bronco”, and a lot of rain as well. Luckily, the heavy rain did not carry into the first pitch and there was no delay for the start of the game.
Sergio Mitre retired Acereros in the first, but then was taken out of the ballgame due to discomfort in his back after just an inning of work.
Fernando Gallegos came in to replace him in the second inning and the visiting team immediately took advantage of the sudden pitching change. Monclova scored three runs in the second inning off Gallegos that put an end to his spell on the mound as well. Alberto Carreon struck an RBI double that drove in former Brewers’ player Matt Clark. Former Toros’ outfielder Chris Valencia then had an RBI single that drove in Rodolfo Amador to make it a 2-0 game. Finally, former Padres’ player Jemile Weeks made it 3-0 with a groundout to Jorge Cantu at first that drove in Alberto Carreon.
Rafael Diaz took over after Gallegos’ unimpressive outing with two outs in the second. The 48-year-old reliever went on to pitch 2.1 innings, but did give up a solo shot to former Twins, Tigers, Rays, Phillies and Orioles’ slugger Delmon Young.
After 109 home runs in MLB, Young blasted his first-ever dinger in Mexican professional baseball. Aaron Kurcz was the next in line out of the Toros’ bullpen, and the right-hander pitched two scoreless frames to keep the score intact. Fabian Williamson then came on in the seventh, which kick-started Monclova’s offense once again.
— Mexican Baseball (@mexbaseball) March 23, 2018
Jemile Weeks struck again as he hit an RBI double to drive in Chris Valencia and make it a 5-0 scoreline. Weeks then scored off a single by Manny Rodriguez that made it 6-0 and really annihilated any hope of winning this game for the Toros.
Several fans abandoned the sold-out Estadio Gasmart after this with the dismal weather and the uninspiring performance by the home team. Former Reds’ reliever Pedro Villarreal replaced Williamson and did manage to retire the side in the seventh after Williamson left two runners on base.
Sergio Alvarado stepped on the mound in the eighth and left the score as it was when he entered the game at 6-0. The Toros finally managed to produce some offense in the bottom of the eighth off former MLB reliever Zach Phillips. The tremendous speed up and down the lineup played a pivotal role in the scoring play as Justin Greene and Isaac Rodriguez pulled off a double steal to go from first and second base to second and third. Justin Greene did score on a groundout by Dustin Martin to cut the deficit to five runs, but it was far too late to make a significant impact on the encounter.
— Francisco Velasco (@FranciscoEfV) March 23, 2018
Alvarado continued his work in the ninth and pitched his second scoreless frame of the night. The Toros failed to construct a miraculous comeback in the bottom of the ninth and the score ended 6-1 in Acereros del Norte’s favor.
Former Padres’ pitcher Chad Gaudin shut the door and secured the first game of the series to Monclova. The Toros will seek redemption in the second game of the series as Carlos Hernandez will face Aaron Laffey at the Estadio Gasmart this Friday.
Francisco, 26, Chula Vista/Tijuana. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres’ 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the local soccer scene. Tijuana Xolos, San Diego Loyal, San Diego Wave.