Winter League Highlights: Valbuena boosts Cardenales
(Photo by Stephen Green)
With four games left in the Venezuelan round-robin playoffs, Lara is tied for the second and final championship spot, with much on the line. On Thursday, the Cardenales de Lara played like they wanted that final spot with a 9-2 win over the Leones del Caracas.
Behind the push was Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena, who has come up big on multiple occasions for the Venezuelan team all season long. The 27-year-old’s name was atop many of the offensive statistic leader boards this winter as he finished with a .306/.414/.497 line (AVG/OBP/SLG) during the regular season.
On Thursday, the infielder was 2-for-3 with two walks, a double and three RBI.
With his side already up 3-0 when he got to the plate in the bottom of the first, Valbuena ripped a single up the middle, but he was left stranded on first. He was hit by a pitch in the fifth but was again stranded at first. He reached on a walk in the seventh, and after getting to third on a single by Joe Thurston, he was again left on base.
But in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and the game well in hand, Valbuena smacked a double to right, scoring three.