Merida, Yucatan — The Generales de Durango attacked early to overcome the Leones de Yucatan 5-3 and even the series at Kukulcan Alamo Park.
Saturday’s matchup was also a tribute to the Leones’ most famous former pitcher, Fernando Valenzuela.
Yucatan’s bats cooled off following the previous day’s tremendous shutout of their northern rivals.
Durango started the scoring in the first inning when O’Koyea Dickson (2) hit a two-run home run to left field, driving in three.
Trailing 4-1, the Leones cut into the deficit in the fifth inning when Alex Liddi and Luis Juarez hit RBI singles.
The Generales tacked an insurance run in the eighth when Jesus Loya (2) hit a solo home run.
The game was stopped due to rain when Walter Ibarra was at bat with one strike and one ball and two outs. Play resumed a half hour later, when Ibarra doubled to left but Tiago da Silva was able to strike out the dangerous Alex Liddi.
Durango starter Diego Moreno (2-0) picked up the win with one strike out and a pair of walks while allowing three runs and five hits over five innings. Five Generales pitchers supported the win in relief with da Silva earning the save, his ninth of the season.
Opposing starter Jesse Estrada (5-1) took the loss, spoiling his perfect record. Estrada struck out three and gave one base on balls, while allowing four runs and five hits over three innings. The Leones sent seven pitchers to the mound in relief over the final six innings.
This is Durango’s second time this season spoiling a Leones pitcher’s undefeated record, after Cesar Valdez’s loss in June.
For Fernando Valenzuela Day, all the Mexican League players in all eight parks that played Saturday wore the famed player’s number, which was retired Saturday in the Mexican League.
The former Leones southpaw caught the attention of a Los Angeles Dodgers recruiter in 1979 while he was pitching a game in Yucatan.
Valenzuela rocketed to stardom in Major League Baseball’s 1981 season, when he became the first player in history to win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards in the same season. That same year, he pitched on the World Series’ winning team.
He played 11 seasons with the Dodgers, in which he garnered 141 wins and 1,759 strikeouts, in addition to six appearances in the All-Star Game and a no hit or run game in 1990.
In 2017 he returned again to the Mexican Baseball League as owner of the Tigres de Quintana Roo.
Today (Sunday) is “The Beach Party” for fans to enjoy swimming pools, slides, music and gifts, with free access with beachwear from 2 to 5 p.m.
The final game of the series will start at 5:45 p.m. Durango’s Luis Payan will duel it out on the mound with Leones newcomer Jonas Garibay, a right-hander from Jalisco.
PG: Moreno (2-0)
PD: Estrada (5-1)
SV: da Silva (9)
HR: Dickson (2), Loya (2) for DGO
Sources: Leones, Generales, Sipse, Associated Press