The series begins to carburize, and with it the teams to engage their machinery. This Thursday the first sub-series of the regular calendar culminated and the sweeps of Matanzas, Granma and Pinar del Río to Cienfuegos, Guantánamo and Isla de la Juventud, respectively, stood out.
The offense is imposing its law at the beginning of the season. It is enough to point out that, in six duels, since Mayabeque-Villa Clara, and Industriales-Artemisa, suspended their clashes due to rain, 66 runs were scored, at a rate of 11 per challenge exactly. Only the 2-0 loss of the Crocodiles over the Elephants, thanks to the left-handed combination of Dariel Góngora and Naykel Cruz, qualified as a low-run challenge, since in the rest the plate was stepped on eight or more times.
Granma, after the setback of the opening match, put its actions as the defending champion on the road to victory, and sent the Guaso Indians out of action for the second consecutive time, this time pulled by the wrists of Carlos Benítez, who with five trailers arrived to nine and momentarily embraced the leadership of that department with Erisbel Arruebarruena, who in turn leads the home run hitters with three homers.
Both experienced hitters, good pickability in the batter’s box, and superior quality to most of the pitchers they face.
The other broom to the account of the Vegueros, executioners 6-2 of the Pirates appealing to the arms of the right-handers Vladimir Baños and Frank Luis Medina, and the towing precision of Pedro Luis Dueñas and the tanned William Saavedra.
Of the remaining clashes, both Las Tunas and Camagüey saved the honor against Ciego de Ávila, and Sancti Spíritus, respectively. In the case of the lumberjacks, after receiving a couple of grouts, they broke loose in a duel of hits to emerge gracefully 15-8. Veteran Danel Castro and Rafael Viñales scored five trailers per capita; Danel betting on a couple of home runs, and viñales first Grand Slam of the Series included.
Meanwhile, the Bulls scraped the Gallos by a minimum 5-4, thanks to the containment of the Sancti Spiritus battery of reliever José Ramón Rodríguez.
To say that such a team already looms as a contender is a bit of a stretch. If there are casts that, due to the depth of their templates, can be granted a greater number of options, like others they come out with pre-competition basement ballots, such as the cases of Guantanamo and the Island in this case. Precisely they, along with Cienfuegos, are located in the lower icy art of the table, with three setbacks.
From above Matanzas (4-0), Pinar (3-0), and Mayabeque (2-0), have not known defeat, and Granma (3-1) behaves like the champion it is.
The truth is that there is a group of approximately 12 casts with options to sneak into the top eight. One, due to the parity between them as part of a tournament that has diminished its quality. Two, due to the fact that, with this qualitative downturn, the signs of “males” or favorites have faded considerably.
In that sauce our contest will be cooking, and it may be that until well into the calendar, there will not be any level of definition in terms of possible eight winners. To which are added other gaps of a technical and tactical nature, with little mastery of the fundamentals at times, and some that have been rooted for years in our domestic classic.
Following the trail of the numbers:
To support the aforementioned criteria, and reaffirm the point that the offense once again surpasses the pitching, without this meaning ample quality in either of the two lines, we find that in 23 clashes made, bats are collectively batted for a collective average of 292; with 128 extra-base hits, including 33 hits from four corners and 87 doubles; in addition to 261 runs scored, a slugging percentage of 427 and an OPS of 810.
To which are added 365 runners on base, a figure that reveals that we still have as a pending issue, producing opportunely with men in scoring position.
However, pitching has contributed to these numbers, especially with a flaw that is embedded as sediment in his actions. Control and distribution of commands; when selecting a pitch to dominate X hitter, and simply not giving away counts, even if they are favorable.
Thus, he throws for 5.26 clean fly balls per nine innings; 10.34 indisputable per game are allowed, the Whip is not flattering either (1.66); and something even more worrying in this beginning, more walks are granted than strikeouts, at a rate of 194/168, for 4.60 transfers per game, compared to 3.98 structured.
Which confirms a theory that the art of striking out in Cuban baseball has been lost over the years.
The ball rolls and gives something to talk about. From the same initial play ball there are many variables on which to stop and reflect. To stay tuned we leave you the next subseries, which will be at the rate of Santiago de Cuba-Pinar del Río; Guantánamo-Artemisa; Holguin-Isle of Youth; Granma-Industrial; Sancti Spíritus-Mayabeque, Ciego de Ávila-Matanzas; Las Tunas-Cienfuegos; and Camagüey-Villa Clara, always in properties belonging to the latter.
For now, these are just a few observations. At the end of each subseries, Cuba Si will be submitting criteria for your consideration.