SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Before the Dominican Republic played its first game in the World Baseball Classic, Jose Reyes warned that the team’s only goal was to win the championship.
Opponents take note: The Dominicans are serious about it.
Reyes had four hits, Robinson Cano drove in three runs and the Dominican Republic beat Venezuela 9-3 on Thursday night in their WBC opener.
“I think these men are on a mission,” Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena said, acknowledging even he was surprised by all the offense. “They’re on a mission, and they don’t want to waste a moment.”
In the first game of Group C play, Hanley Ramirez hit a long home run and Cano went 3 for 5 with two doubles to help the Dominicans get off to a strong start in a first-round pool that also includes Puerto Rico and Spain.
Nelson Cruz and Alejandro De Aza each drove in two runs. Venezuela starter Anibal Sanchez faced seven batters and got only one out.
Venezuela slugger Miguel Cabrera went 0 for 4 with a walk and stranded three runners in a game that took 3 hours, 55 minutes — not including a 50-minute rain delay.
“He’s human,” Venezuela manager Luis Sojo said. “Baseball is an unpredictable game. Hitting is the hardest part. Maybe it’s been easier for Miguel than others. They did a good job.”
Part of Pena’s strategy was to keep Cabrera contained. The Detroit Tigers star won the AL MVP and Triple Crown last season.
“Miguel Cabrera is baseball’s best hitter. He’s not going to win any games from me. Simple,” Pena said.
The Dominican Republic scored five runs in the first two innings and sealed it with three in the seventh. It was the latest display of offensive firepower from a star-studded team that totaled 23 runs and 41 hits in a pair of tuneup games against the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees.
The rain delay led to early exits for Sanchez and Dominican Republic starter Edinson Volquez.
The Dominicans improved to 3-0 against Venezuela in the WBC, including a pair of wins in 2006.
Venezuela’s players wore black armbands to honor President Hugo Chavez, who died Tuesday, and observed a moment of silence before taking the field.
Official Wire and AP