Former MLB right-hander Garcia allows one run over six frames to beat PR
By Jesse Sanchez
The Caribbean Series began Monday with a pair of tight games, including former big leaguer Freddy Garcia pitching a gem for Venezuela.
Venezuela 2, Puerto Rico 1
Venezuela's Tigres de Aragua scored twice on a triple by Jose Martinez in the bottom of the second inning, and Garcia shut down Puerto Rico's offense to pave the way for a victory against the Cangrejeros de Santurce in the first game of the Caribbean Series on Monday afternoon at Estadio Quisqueya Marichal.
Martinez, who spent last season in the Minor Leagues with the Royals, has also played in the White Sox and Braves' organizations. Ruben Sosa, who was drafted by the Astros in 2011 and spent four seasons in the organization and parts of last season in the Minors with the Angels, scored Puerto Rico's only run in the first inning.
A team from Puerto Rico is seeking its first Caribbean Series title since 2000. The Tigres de Aragua are the last team from Venezuela to win the Caribbean Series championship, capturing the title in '09.
Venezuela will play the Escodigo Leones from the Dominican Republic on Tuesday night. Puerto Rico will not play Tuesday.
Garcia, who is appearing in his first and final Caribbean Series before he officially retires, started the game for Venezuela and pitched six strong innings. The veteran right-hander was charged with one run on four hits. He struck out five and walked one batter in the 89-pitch outing.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Venezuela third baseman Adonis Garcia showed why the Braves are considering starting him at third base in the big leagues when he made a spectacular diving catch to his right on a sharply hit ball by Puerto Rico's Henry Ramos for the first out of the second inning. Garcia, who is from Cuba and played for Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League, is arguably the most popular player on the team and one of the most popular players in the entire league.
Mexico 3, Dominican Republic, 2
Mexico, seeking its fourth Caribbean Series title in six years, is off to a good start.
On Monday night, Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan edged the Dominican Republic's Leones del Escogido in the second game of the Caribbean Series at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal.
Tied at 2 in the fifth, Mexico pulled ahead, 3-2, when center fielder Justin Greene scored from third on a ground ball off the bat of former Major Leaguer Yuniesky Betancourt and an errant throw by Dominican Republic second baseman Leury Garcia.
First baseman Cyle Hankerd -- a former farmhand in the D-backs, White Sox and Angels organizations -- scored Mexico's first run in the second inning. Greene scored Mazatlan's second run in the third inning to extend the lead to 2-0.
The Dominican Republic tied the game at 2 when Garcia hit an inside-the-park home run with shortstop Pedro Lopez on base in the third inning.
Mexico will play Cuba on Tuesday afternoon, while Dominican Republic will play Venezuela in the nightcap.
Greene, 30, was in the middle of the action most of the night at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal. The former farmhand with the White Sox and the D-backs finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored. He was selected by the White Sox in the 20th round of the 2008 Draft and spent five seasons in the Minors with Chicago. He spent parts of '13 and '14 in the Minors with Arizona and played last season in Mexico.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Few plays are as exciting as an inside-the-park home run, and fans in attendance on Monday witnessed the special treat courtesy of Garcia. Garcia, who has played for the Rangers and the White Sox, smashed a sinking line drive to right-center that Mexico center fielder Justin Greene could not corral in the third inning. The ball rolled to the wall, Garcia motored around the bases and eventually slid headfirst into home plate. Pedro Lopez, who reached on a single, scored on Garcia's hit to tie the score at 2.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.