The Dominican Republic took an early 5-0 lead and overcame an early rain delay that knocked out starter Edinson Volquez to defeat Venezuela 9-3 Thursday in the World Baseball Classic Opener for both teams.
The Dominican took control of Pool C with three runs in the first, chasing Anibal Sanchez (Tigers) after only one out, and two more in the second. Big league stars powered the Dominican lineup all night, keyed by shortstop Jose Reyes (Blue Jays), who had four hits and scored twice.
Second baseman Robinson Cano (Yankees) started the scoring with a two-run double in the first and went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, while outfielders Nelson Cruz (Rangers) and Alejandro De Aza (White Sox) contributed two RBIs apiece.
Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers) had only one hit, but it was a long solo homer in the fifth, and it also blunted some of Venezuela’s momentum. Venezuela had rallied with three runs to pull within two and had threatened in the fifth before Pedro Strop (Orioles) put out a fire. Strop wound up retiring all five batters he faced and was credited with the win.
Veteran minor leaguer Lorenzo Barcelo (Dodgers), Santiago Casilla (Giants) and Fernando Rodney (Rays) each tossed a scoreless inning as Venezuela’s fearsome lineup was held hitless over the game’s final four innings.
Puerto Rico and Spain continue Pool C play Friday, while the Dominican (vs. Spain) and Venezuela (vs. Puerto Rico) get a day off before returning to action Saturday.