Dan's Dugout: Latinos Have Much to Celebrate This Cinco de Mayo • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Latinos Have Much to Celebrate This Cinco de Mayo

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Today is Cinco de Mayo, the day before Willie Mays turns 87 and this columnist hits the big 7-0.

It is also the day Latinos around the world will be celebrating one of their most memorable nights in baseball history.

On May 5, 1862, the Mexican army won an upset victory against French forces in the Battle of Puebla. Although Mexico celebrates September 16 as its Independence Day, the town of Puebla still celebrates Cinco de Mayo – along with transplanted Mexicans and countless other Americans looking for a festive party.

Four Dodger pitchers had their way with the Padres in Monterrey, Mexico

On May 4, 2018, Major League Baseball not only returned to Mexico but marked the night with a combined no-hitter by four Los Angeles Dodgers.

In a game that featured a first-pitch offering from former Mexican star Fernando Valenzuela, rookie Walker Buehler threw six hitless innings against the San Diego Padres in his third major-league start. Then Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia, and Adam Liberatore finished the 4-0 gem, the 12th combined no-hitter in baseball history and the 23rd hitless game by the Dodgers.

Playing in front of frenzied fans in Monterrey, the teams tantalized both the Mexicans in the crowd and a national audience on Major League Baseball Network. It also added a large exclamation mark to MLB’s program of attracting more interest by playing games outside the continental United States.

A two-game Puerto Rico series was played in mid-April and the very first series ticketed for London, England will be announced for next season in a few days. The leagues have also played foreign games in Australia and Japan.

While there’s plenty of excitement over such international locations, a small army of Latino stars found U.S. ballparks to their liking Friday.

Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels became the 32nd member of the 3,000-hit club – but only the fourth man with 3,000 hits and 600 home runs. The Dominican first baseman, who spent the bulk of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, joins Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Alex Rodriguez in that exclusive club.

Albert Pujols now has 3000 hits and 600 homers — a rare achievement

He also joined an even smaller fraternity of active players with 3,000 hits: Pujols and fellow Dominican slugger Adrian Beltre, who plays third base for the Texas Rangers.

Although Pujols is winding down a career certain to carry him to Cooperstown, Venezuelan second baseman Gleyber Torres is just starting his. The blue-chip prospect, just promoted to the big leagues by the Yankees, hit his first big-league home run Friday, helping New York knock off the Cleveland Indians in the Bronx. The blast enabled broadcaster John Sterling to proclaim the night “Gleyber Day.”

Not coincidentally, the Yankees have won 11 of 12 games since the second baseman joined the team.

Another Latino turned the tide for his club Friday. Jorge Soler, a Cuban native whom the Kansas City Royals acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the Wade Davis deal two winters ago, delivered a two-out, two-run, eighth-inning single that gave the Royals a 4-2 win over the Tigers. It was the 19th consecutive game in which the fleet outfielder reached base.

Gleyber Torres collected his first home run Friday night

Nobody could accuse Jose Bautista of being fleet or an outfielder. In his first game as the starting third baseman of the Atlanta Braves Friday, the converted rightfielder powered a double off the Sun Trust Park wall in his first at-bat.

The 37-year-old Dominican brings much-needed righthanded power, plus a veteran presence to the Braves, who remember his 54-homer season for the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays. That just happened to be the first year Alex Anthopoulos was GM for the Jays. He now holds that title in Atlanta, where the Braves rode a five-game winning streak into first place May 2.

Like Cinco de Mayo, baseball is a game of celebrations. But rarely have so many started at the same time as they did on May 4, 2018 – the night before.

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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