The fifty-first edition of the Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe) was played in 2009. It was held from February 2 through February 7 with the champions teams from Dominican Republic (Tigres del Licey), Mexico (Venados de Mazatlán), Puerto Rico (Leones de Ponce) and Venezuela (Tigres de Aragua). The format consisted of 12 games, each team facing the other teams twice. The games were played at Estadio Casas GEO in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.
Tigres de Aragua of Venezuela clinched its first team Caribbean Series title and seventh as a country with a 5-1 record. Guided by Buddy Bailey, the Venezuelan club took the top spot much more easily than expected, especially considering the absence of big-name stars, which was mitigated by playing small ball. In addition, the opportune hitting and sharp defense were bolstered by above-average running speed and strong bullpen support. Venezuela clinched the title with a 5-3 win over host Mexico before an overflow crowd at Mexicali's stadium. Closer Francisco Buttó set records with more saves in a series (4) and most saves in series history (6, including 2007 and 2008 editions), which was enough to be named the Most Valuable Player of the series. Also providing offensive support were SS Luis Maza (.300 batting average), CF Selwin Langaigne (.280, three runs, three RBI) and 2B Ramón Castro (.286 BA, four RBI). The team only committed three errors and the pitching staff posted a collective 2.41 earned run average. Venezuela blasted only one home run in the series, but it was a good one as first baseman Héctor Giménez' 11th-inning, walk-off solo homer in Game 4 pushed the Tigers to a 1-0 victory over the Mexican team. The only winning starter on their staff was Horacio Estrada (one earned run, three strikeouts in innings of work). Other members of the team included starter Tim Harikkala (0.00 ERA in six innings) and relievers Ronald Belisario, Iván Blanco, Marcos Carvajal, Andrew Lorraine and Víctor Moreno; catching tandem of Alex Delgado and Wilson Ramos; DH Raúl Chávez; 3B Luis Ugueto, and outfielders Rodney Medina and Jackson Melián.
The experienced Lorenzo Bundy managed the Mexican club, represented by the Venados de Mazatlán, and finished in second place with a modest 3-3 mark. A strong offense and solid defense (only three errors) were not enough to compensate for poor pitching and a lack of speed on the basepaths. Leading the offensive charge were Edgar Gonzalez, who had the series' highest batting average at .423 (.454 OBP, .577 SLG), though his brother Adrián González did hit .286 with eight RBI and a .714 SLG, including three home runs in a game to set a series record. SS Héber Gómez (.368 BA, .474 SLG, five runs, three RBI) and RF Christian Quintero (.318 BA, three runs, three RBI) also carried much of the offensive weight. One of the few bright spots in the pitching staff was Walter Silva, who posted a 1-1 record with 12 strikeouts and a 2.25 ERA in two starts. The roster also included veteran pitchers Francisco Córdova and Pablo Ortega; catcher Miguel Ojeda; outfielder Rubén Rivera, and infielders Freddy Sandoval, Robert Saucedo and Óscar Robles.
The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico finished tied in third place with a 2-4 record.
The defending champion Tigres del Licey, of the Dominican Republic, was a pale shadow of the glorious franchise that won 10 series titles (three undefeated) and posted a 65-24 record (.730 percentage) in 15 appearances between 1971 and 2008. Managed by José Offerman, the offense mustered little punch (.220 BA) and led the series with seven errors. The most prominent players were starters Alfredo Simón (1-0, five hits, seven SO in 7.0 innings) and Ramón Ortiz (1.42 ERA, five SO, innings); reliever Julio Mañón (two saves), and DH Ronny Paulino (.381 BA, .762 SLG, five RBI). Also in the roster were pitchers Wilton Chávez, Valerio de los Santos, Julio Mateo, José Mercedes, Jailen Peguero, Carlos Pérez, Oneli Pérez and Jorge Sosa; catcher Salvador Paniagua; infielders Erick Aybar, Willy Aybar, Ronnie Belliard, Anderson Hernández and D'Angelo Jiménez, and outfielders José Bautista, Fernando Martínez, Ricardo Nanita and Timo Pérez.
Puerto Rico returned to the Series after a one-year absence, represented by the Leones de Ponce and managed by Eduardo Pérez, former big leaguer and ESPN Baseball Tonight broadcaster. The Boricuas team outscored their rivals, 18-16, despite a negative record of 2-4. The pitching staff was led by Giancarlo Alvarado (1-0, 16 SO and a 2.32 ERA in innings), and posted one of the two shutouts in the series, while the offense was paced by SS Luis Figueroa (.389 BA, 4 RBI), 1B Carlos Rivera (.360 BA, 4 RBI) and 2B Andy González (.333 BA, 4 RBI). The rest of the roster was filled with starters Josué Matos (1-0, 5.0 innings), Héctor Mercado (1.29 ERA, seven SO, innings) and Bill Pulsipher (1.42 ERA, seven SO, innings); relievers Iván Maldonado (one save, 4 SO, innings), Josh Rainwater (0.00 ERA, 5.0 innings) and Fernando Cabrera; catchers Eli Marrero, Robinson Cancel and Raúl Casanova; infielders Fernando Cortez and Iggy Suarez, and outfielders Jesús Feliciano and Raúl González, among others. To fill the void last winter, Perez, who took over as Ponce's manager just one day before the start of the regular season, created the Winter Training Program for professional and amateur players on the island, and expressed cautious optimism that winter baseball in Puerto Rico was back to stay.
|Venezuela||Tigres de Aragua||5||1||.833||-||Buddy Bailey|
|Mexico||Venados de Mazatlán||3||3||.500||2.0||Lorenzo Bundy|
|Dominican Republic||Tigres de Licey||2||4||.333||3.0||José Offerman|
|Puerto Rico||Leones de Ponce||2||4||.333||3.0||Eduardo Pérez|
|Edgar Gonzalez (MEX)||Batting average||.423|
|Adrián González (MEX)||Home runs||3|
|Adrián González (MEX)||RBI||8|
|Héber Gómez / (MEX)||Runs||7|
|Edgar Gonzalez (MEX)||Hits||11|
|Luis Maza (VEN)||Doubles||3|
|Edgar Gonzalez (MEX)||Triples||1|
|Anderson Hernández (DOM)
Luis Ugueto (VEN)
|Edgar Gonzalez (MEX)||OBP||.469|
|Adrián González (MEX)||SLG||.714|
|Adrián González (MEX)||OPS||1.114|
|Giancarlo Alvarado (PRI)||Strikeouts||16|
|Walter Silva (MEX)||ERA||2.25|
|Walter Silva (MEX)||Innings pitched||12.0|
|Francisco Buttó (VEN)||Saves||4|
|Francisco Buttó (VEN)||Games pitched||4|
|Francisco Buttó (VEN)||Most Valuable Player|
|Buddy Bailey (VEN)||Manager|
|Wilson Ramos (VEN)||catcher|
|Adrián González (MEX)||first baseman|
|Edgar Gonzalez (MEX)||second baseman|
|Luis Maza (VEN)||third baseman|
|Luis Figueroa (PRI)||shortstop|
|Rodney Medina (VEN)||left fielder|
|Selwyn Langaigne (VEN)||center fielder|
|Christian Quintero (MEX)||right fielder|
|Ronny Paulino (DOM)||designated hitter|
|Giancarlo Alvarado (PRI)||RH pitcher|
|Horacio Estrada (VEN)||LH pitcher|
|Francisco Buttó (VEN)||relief pitcher|
|Buddy Bailey (VEN)||manager|
|WP: Ronald Belisario (1-0) LP: Victor Marte (0-1) Sv: Francisco Buttó (1)|
DOM: Ronnie Belliard (1)
Notes: Venezuela's Brad Knox pitched hitless ball into the seventh inning.
|WP: Walter Silva (1-0) LP: Bubbie Buzachero (0-1) Sv: Héctor Navarro (1)|
Notes: Starters Silva (11) and Giancarlo Alvarado (11) and four relievers (5) combined to set a Series game
record for most strikeouts (27).
|WP: Alfredo Simón (1-0) LP: José Vaquedano (0-1) Sv: Julio Mañón (1)|
DOM: Fernando Martínez (1)
|WP: Marcos Carvajal (1-0) LP: José Cobos (0-1)|
VEN: Héctor Giménez (1)
|WP: Horacio Estrada (1-0) LP: Orlando Román (0-1) Sv: Francisco Buttó (2)|
|WP: Rafael Martin (1-0) LP: Jorge Sosa (0-1) Sv: Héctor Navarro (2)|
MEX: Adrián González 3 (3)
DOM: José Bautista (1)
Notes: With his three homers, González set a Series record for most HRs in a single game.
|WP: Iván Blanco (1-0) LP: Nerio Rodríguez (0-1) Sv: Francisco Buttó (3)|
DOM: Ronny Paulino (1)
|WP: José Luis García (1-0) LP: Travis Minix (0-1)|
|WP: Josué Matos (1-0) LP: Julio Mateo (0-1) Sv: Iván Maldonado (1)|
PRI: Jesús Feliciano (1), Andy González (1)
|WP: Orber Moreno (1-0) LP: Oscar Bustillos (0-1) Sv: Francisco Buttó (4)|
* Tigres de Aragua of Venezuela clinched its first team Series title and seventh as a country.
* Buttó set records for the most saves in a Series (4) and in Series history (6, including 2007-2008 editions).
|WP: Giancarlo Alvarado (1-0) LP: Brad Knox (0-1)|
PRI: Jorge Padilla (1)
|WP: Oneli Pérez (1-0) LP: Walter Silva (1-1) Sv: Julio Mañón (2)|
DOM: Ronny Paulino (2), Salvador Paniagua (1)