Matthew Pouliot

Robinson Cano

Dominican Republic routs Venezuela 9-3 in WBC

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Robinson Cano went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI and Hanley Ramirez added a long homer as the Dominican Republic torched Venezuela 9-3 in the start of Pool C play.

The Dominican team jumped out to a 3-0 lead off Anibal Sanchez in the bottom of the first, only to see the game halted by a 50-minute rain delay. When play resumed, both Sanchez and Dominican starter Edinson Volquez were gone from the game. However, the Dominican offense just kept scoring, adding two runs off Cesar Jimenez and four off Jhoulys Chacin.

Venezuela managed just two runs in the third and one in the fourth before being shut down for the rest of the night. Pedro Strop ended up with the win after retiring all five batters he faced. Santiago Casilla and Fernando Rodney finished the game with scoreless innings.

Pablo Sandoval doubled in two of Venezuela’s three runs. Miguel Cabrera was quiet, going 0-for-4 with a walk.

The Dominican offense got four hits from Jose Reyes and two RBI apiece from Nelson Cruz and Alejandro De Aza. Carlos Santana walked in all four of his plate appearances.

The convincing victory should give the Dominican Republic an easy path to Round 2. Even if the D.R., Venezuela and Puerto Rico all end up 2-1, the D.R. has a big head start in the tiebreaker. Spain and Puerto Rico are the next game up in Pool C on Friday. Saturday will feature the Dominican Republic versus Spain and Puerto Rico versus Venezuela.

Italy rallies in ninth, defeats Mexico 6-5

Drew Butera
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Thanks to some shoddy outfield defense from Edgar Gonzalez, Italy pulled off a shocker Thursday, defeating Mexico 6-5 to start Pool D play in the World Baseball Classic.

Gonzalez, normally an infielder, misplayed two balls in left in the top of the ninth, opening the door for Italy’s two-run inning against Sergio Romo.

Anthony Rizzo was credited with a two-run double on a ball that bounced out of Gonzalez’s glove, giving Italy the lead. Mexico tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases against Jason Grilli before Jorge Cantu grounded out to end it.

Adrian Gonzalez, Edgar’s younger brother, reached base five times, and Cantu delivered a three-run double for Mexico.

Italy jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Rodrigo Lopez in the top of the first, but it didn’t last long, as Mexico responded by loading the bases in front of Cantu’s double in the bottom of the inning. Mexico added a fourth run on a Ramiro Pena double in the second.

Italy was able to come back and tie the game in the fourth, when Twins catcher Drew Butera hit a two-run homer. Mexico, though, again responded in the fifth. Luis Cruz doubled in Eduardo Arredondo to make it 5-4. The game might have ended with that score, but Gonzalez had trouble on both a ball hit over his head by Nick Punto and Rizzo’s fly in the ninth.

Pool D play will continue Friday afternoon, when Canada takes on Italy. Mexico and the United States will have their showdown Friday night, with Yovani Gallardo and R.A. Dickey slated to start. That would now seem to be a must-win game for Mexico.

Dominican Republic downs Yankees 8-2 in exhibition

Robinson Cano
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The Dominican Republic is glad Hiroki Kuroda decided to sit out the World Baseball Classic. He’s the only pitcher with any luck slowing their offense the last two days.

Kuroda, a native of Japan, struck out four in three scoreless innings Wednesday, but the Dominican Republic scored in every frame afterwards on its way to an 8-2 win over the Yankees.

The Dominican team has total 23 runs and 39 hits in the 15 innings not pitched by Kuroda the last two days.

Leading the Dominican offense today was supposed weak link Ricardo Nanita. Starting in left field with Jose Bautista absent from the roster, Nanita went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored in this one.

Nanita and Moises Sierra, both Blue Jays players oddly enough, will likely platoon in left field for the Dominican team in the WBC. Nanita, a left-handed hitter, batted .306/.353/.465 at offense-heavy Triple-A Las Vegas last season. Sierra, a right-hander, hit .289/.360/.472 in 377 at-bats for Las Vegas and .224/.274/.374 in 147 at-bats in the majors. Neither was considered a candidate to make the Blue Jays this spring.

Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Santana (finally a non-Blue Jay) all had two hits apiece for the Dominican Republic today. Yankees farmhand Vidal Nuno was the starting pitcher after being loaned to the Dominican Republic for the day. He pitched four hitless innings in what was essentially an intrasquad game for him.

Dominican second baseman Robinson Cano went 1-for-3 with an RBI while facing his Yankees teammates today.

Miguel Cabrera’s two homers lead Venezuela past Mets

Miguel Cabrera, Asdrubal Cabrera
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Miguel Cabrera went 3-for-4 with a pair of homers and Gerardo Parra added a three-run shot as Venezuela beat the Mets 14-10 in an exhibition Thursday.

Marlon Byrd homered as part of a seven-run fifth inning for the Mets, but Venezuela had already totaled 12 runs by that point.

Featuring perhaps the most well balanced lineup among the WBC teams, Venezuela is a threat to win the tournament if its pitching holds up. It’s top arms weren’t on display today, though: Ramon A. Ramirez, a brief big leaguer with the Reds in 2008-09, started and threw three scoreless innings. Byrd’s homer came off former major leaguer Romulo Sanchez.

Besides Cabrera and Parra, Santiago Perez (3-for-4, three runs scored), Carlos Gonzalez (2-for-3, 2B, BB) and Omar Infante (2-for-4, three RBI) had nice days for Venezuela. Mets starter Jon Niese was touched up for four runs in 2 1/3 innings, while Carlos Torres gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Kevin Millar’s little bro in running for Red Sox PA job

Jensen Millar (courtesy Kevin MIllar)
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The Red Sox are currently holding tryouts for the vacant Fenway Park public address announcer job, and Jensen Millar, younger brother of Kevin, is taking his turn at the mic for the team’s spring training game today.

Jensen is one of the finalists to replace the late Carl Beane, who was killed in a car accident last May.

The family connection might work in Jensen’s favor. Kevin Millar, who currently works for MLB Network, played three seasons in Boston and hit .297 with 18 homers and 74 RBI as the Red Sox ended their world championship drought in 2004.

CSNNE.com’s Maureen Mullen points out that Jensen has been at this goal for a while; he originally won a Dream Job contest to broadcast a Ft. Myers Miracle game in 2004.