Canó's 3 hits boost Estrellas in Dominican finals opener
The Dominican winter league finals between the Estrellas Orientales and the Tigres del Licey opened Friday night at the Tigres’ home stadium, Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo, with the Estrellas winning Game 1, 5-2.
MLB.TV subscribers can stream all LIDOM games live, with no blackout restrictions, on all supported devices worldwide -- including this week's Dominican League Final Series. You can watch the games on the MLB app or online at MLB.com/TV.
The Tigres are appearing in the LIDOM finals for the 38th time, second only to Aguilas, which has reached the finals 40 times. Those clubs have won 22 titles apiece, with Licey looking to win for a record 23rd time by defeating the Estrellas in the best-of-seven championship series.
Game 1 was tied, 2-2, following one inning thanks to a two-run homer for each side. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who signed a one-year deal with the Nationals in November, launched a two-run shot to right field in the top of the first for the Estrellas, and catcher Jorge Alfaro lined a two-run shot of his own just over the left-field wall in the bottom of the frame for Licey.
The score remained 2-2 until the third inning, when Henry Urrutia -- the LIDOM regular-season batting champion (.318) whom the Estrellas picked up from the Gigantes del Cibao -- drove an RBI double off the center-field wall and later scored on an RBI single by Robinson Canó. Canó went 3-for-4.
In the seventh, outfielder Junior Lake lined a leadoff triple to the right-center-field gap and scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-2 in favor of the Estrellas.
Left-hander Andy Otero started for the Estrellas and held the Tigres to two runs on two hits while walking one and striking out six over 4 1/3 innings. Roman Mendez relieved Otero with one on and one out in the fifth and worked around an infield single to escape with a scoreless frame.
Raffi Vizcaíno took over for the Estrellas and tossed a scoreless sixth before Wirfin Obispo and Oliver Pérez, a 20-year MLB veteran, combined for a scoreless seventh. Chester Pimentel turned in a 1-2-3 eighth, and Ronel Blanco closed things out by working around a ninth-inning single.
The Estrellas and the Tigres are meeting in the LIDOM finals for the fourth time. Licey won the last two matchups. In 1973, Licey, managed by eventual Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, beat the Estrellas in a best-of-nine series, five games to two. In 1980, Licey won the best-of-nine series in six games. That club was managed by 11-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award-winning catcher Del Crandall.
The Tigres are in the finals for the first time since 2019. For the Estrellas, this is the second straight season they have reached the finals -- they lost to the Gigantes last year.
This year’s LIDOM finals are dedicated to former MLB infielder/outfielder Mickey Hatcher, who was the MVP of the 1980 series, in which he hit four homers, a record he shares with Mendy Lopez (2007) and Wilson Betemit (2010). Hatcher still holds series records for slugging percentage (1.150) and OPS (1.605).
That epic LIDOM series performance wasn’t the only postseason heroics Hatcher delivered during his career -- he also hit .368 and launched a pair of homers for the Dodgers in their five-game World Series victory over the A’s in 1988.