Writing > Zona Norte Championship Series game one

August 10, 2011: Zona Norte Championship Series game one

Diablos Rojos del México 6 Sultanes de Monterrey 5 (11 innings)
7:00pm Tuesday August 9, 2011
Time: 3:39
Attendance: 9,166

Over nine thousand people for a midweek game. Pretty damn good for the Diablos. But it is the playoffs. After beating the Pericos de Puebla in the first round, we're now at the Zona Norte Championship Series stage. Game one in a best-of-seven series against the Sultanes de Monterrey. It still weirds me out a little that I can walk up to the ticket booth and buy a ticket for a playoff game an hour before first pitch. One thing seems different during the playoffs, though: I can't sit in my normal seat. Tickets here don't have assigned seat numbers. But for every night game that I went to during the regular season, I sat in the same seat: about fifteen rows up, just to the first base side of home plate. I'd sit near the same old dudes every game. (For day games, though, I'd sit higher up, in the shade.) But now it's the playoffs, my favourite seating area is RESERVADO. A4 photocopied pieces of paper with the names of companies on them reserving seats. Boo. Where the fuck were all you suits during the regular season?

Things started well. Roberto Ramirez (played for the Padres and Rockies in the late 90s; his nickname is Machine Gun) went through four innings facing the minimum batters. 2.1 of those innings were perfect (a rarity for the Diablos), and he only gave up one fly ball during those four innings. Two hits, two double plays, and a bunch of groundouts. The Sultanes pitcher had been pretty good, too. He got out of a one out, bases loaded jam in the fourth. Game tied at 0-0. Then the fifth inning. Sultanas third baseman Agustin Murillo hit a solo home run. Humbrerto Cota hit a solo home run. Edgar Quintero hit a solo home run. Back-to-back-to-back homers. I've never seen that at a live game before. Cota homer again in the sixth. 4-0 Monterrey. Top of the eighth, Chris Roberson struck out but reached on the wild pitch which dribbled all the way to the back stop, and later scored on a Murillo single. 5-0 Monterrey.

Monterrey's pitching was good. Walter Silva went seven innings, giving up just five hits and no runs. Adrian Ramirez, Marcos Zavala, and Jonathan Castellanos got through the eighth giving up just one hit, a double by Alexis Gomez. All looking peachy for the visitors. And then the bottom of the ninth began. Ivan Terrazas lead off, grounding right along the first base line. Routine out. Well, it should've been, but as the Monterrey first baseman reached down to scoop up the ball, it hit the base, and bounced several feet towards second. (At the ballpark, it was scored a hit on the scoreboard; on the Liga Mexicana website, it was scored E3. Calling it an error is kinda harsh.) Runner on first. The handful of Monterrey fans still banging their drums and singing. Carlos Valencia singles. Oscar Robles strikes out. Mario Valdez draws a walk. Bases loaded, one out.

Next up Mario Valenzuela. First pitch is wild. One run scores. Runners on second and third. Valenzuela draws a walk. Luis Cruz singles, scoring two more runs. 5-3. Luis Terrero singles, Valenzuela scores. 5-4. Geronimo Gil sac flies to right. Cruz scores. Tie game. Japhet Amador grounds into the force out. 5-5. Extra innings. Zeros through an inning and a half. Diablos at bat. Single. Sac bunt. Third baseman well off the bag, runner keeps on going to third. Two IBBs to load them up with one out. Single to right. Diablos win.

Playoff baseball... magic stuff.