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Dominican Republic defeats Canada 9-2 in World Baseball Classic

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Team Dominican Republic defeated Team Canada 4-1 on Thursday evening to open up Pool C play. Carlos Martinez got the start for the Dominican Republic and pitched four strong innings, yielding one unearned run on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts on 58 pitches.

The D.R. jumped out to an early 4-0 lead with a four-run second inning. Nelson Cruz led off with a double, moved to third base on an Adrian Beltre ground out, then scored on a Gregory Polanco single. Welington Castillo then followed up with a two-run home run to the opposite field at Marlins Park off of Team Canada starter Ryan Dempster. The rally continued, however, as Jose Reyes singled. After Manny Machado popped out, Robinson Cano singled to push Reyes to third, and Jose Bautista brought Reyes home with a single.

Canada got on the board in the third when Jonathan Malo reached on a Reyes error and advanced to second. He moved to third on a Dalton Pompey ground out, then scored when home plate umpire Dan Iassogna called Martinez on a balk.

Hansel Robles took over for Martinez in the fifth. He yielded a leadoff single to Pete Orr, who came around to score Canada’s second run on a one-out double to left-center by Pompey.

The D.R. immediately struck back for a run in the bottom half of the fifth against Jim Henderson. Bautista led off with a single and Carlos Santana doubled to deep center, but a great relay from Pompey to Jonathan Malo to George Kottaras nailed Bautista at the plate. Henderson, however, walked Nelson Cruz, then gave up an RBI single to Adrian Beltre, pushing the score to 5-2.

Jose Bautista broke the game wide open in the sixth, demolishing a three-run home run to left field off of Dustin Molleken, who relieved Kevin Chapman after putting two runners on base. The D.R. tacked on one more in the seventh thanks to a throwing error by Pete Orr, pushing the lead to 9-2.

Alex Colome worked a scoreless seventh and Dellin Betances kept Canada off the board in the eighth. Fernando Rodney got two quick outs in the ninth before giving way to Jeurys Familia, who retired pinch-hitter Josh Naylor on strikes to end the game with a W for the Dominican Republic.

Pool C play continues on Friday evening as Colombia will take on the United States at 6 PM EST. Colombia will then match up with Canada on noon Saturday, followed by the U.S. taking on the D.R. at 6:30 PM EST.

Joe Girardi won’t use Masahiro Tanaka in Game 7

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The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.

Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.

Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.

Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.