The Associated Press
MIAMI–Jose Bautista homered and drove in four runs yesterday as the Dominican Republic opened its bid for a second-straight World Baseball Classic title with a 9-2 victory against Canada.
Welington Castillo added a two-run homer for the Dominicans, who went 8-0 to win the 2013 title.
Before the game, manager Tony Pena said his team looks better on paper this time around.
Bautista singled home a run in the second, singled again in the fifth, and hit a three-run homer in the sixth off Dustin Molleken.
“This is a team full of clean-up hitters,” Bautista said in Spanish.
“Whenever you contribute to the cause, you are happy.”
Jose Reyes had three of the Dominicans’ 15 hits.
Castillo’s homer came in the second inning, when the Dominicans bunched six hits to score four runs off Ryan Dempster.
“That’s a pretty good ballclub they ran out there,” said Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt.
“There are no soft spots, for sure.”
Carlos Martinez pitched four innings in first career WBC outing and allowed one run.
“I achieved my dream–to play for the Dominican Republic,” Martinez said in Spanish.
The Dominicans were the home team and had the majority of support from a boisterous crowd of 27,388 at Marlins Park, with fans chanting, blowing horns, and pounding drums throughout the game.
Dempster, a 16-year major-league veteran who came out of retirement to pitch for the Canadians at age 39, lasted only two innings and gave up four runs.
It was his first game since the 2013 World Series.
“I wish I would have made a couple of better pitches,” Dempster said.
“They’re a really good lineup,” he added. “They almost have an all-star team.”
The Canadians, meanwhile, are in danger of being eliminated in the opening round for the fourth time in as many WBCs.
The game also had a sombre side for the Dominicans, who hung jerseys in their dugout honouring Kansas City Royals’ pitcher Yordano Ventura and former major-leaguer Andy Marte.
They died in separate traffic accidents on the same January morning in the Dominican Republic.
“A beautiful gesture from management to show the brotherhood of all Dominican players,” Bautista said.