The Dominican Republic team kicked off its defense of its World Baseball Classic title with a win against an overmatched Canadian team on Thursday night, 9-2. The two Orioles on the DR team, Manny Machado and Welington Castillo, made key contributions to the victory.
Facing a Canadian pitcher in Ryan Dempster who, at 39, has not pitched in three years, the Dominican lineup unloaded in the second inning and never looked back. Dempster gave up four runs in only two innings of work. That included an opposite field shot from Castillo, the Orioles catcher, a two-run bomb that put the DR team up 3-0.
The Dominican team is stacked 1-9 with regular MLBers in its lineup. There is no rest for any pitcher. The same cannot be said of the Canadian squad, which has a few regular major league players and the rest are either prospects or players whose MLB aspirations ended a while ago.
Not much surprise the Canadian team was unable to get a whole lot going against the Dominican starter, Carlos Martinez, usually of the Cardinals. Only a throwing error by DR shortstop Jose Reyes and a phantom balk call allowed a run to cross in the four innings pitched by Martinez.
Despite the error, Martinez’s defense helped him more than it hurt him, and a big part of that was Machado. Frequently shifted, he ranged far in and far to his side to make plays on ground balls, nothing less than his usual brilliance, and displayed quick reflexes on hot shot line drives like this:
Machado is the man, plain and simple. It is strange seeing him wearing a different uniform and a different number, but Orioles fans have a couple more years before it will be time to worry about that.
The #3 is what Machado wore in the minor leagues, but by the time he was promoted to the O’s, it was already taken by Ryan Flaherty, and it seems Machado has never tried to change it.
Later in the game, Machado added two of the Dominican team’s 15 hits and scored a run as well. When Jose Bautista can homer to drive in in Machado, that’s a dangerous lineup. Bautista’s three-run home run blew open the game in the sixth inning for the Dominicans.
With three hits and a walk on top of four runs driven in, Bautista ended up being the star of the game. Along with Bautista and Machado, Jose Reyes and Gregory Polanco each had multi-hit games against Canada. The Canadian team only had six hits all game.
Not everything was positive for the O’s players, though. If you’re worried about whether Welington Castillo will be good enough defensively, you might worry more after he gave up a passed ball on a strikeout that allowed a runner to advance in this game.
On the other hand, Castillo has had even less of a chance to get to know these pitchers than he will with Orioles pitchers before the regular season begins. So probably no need to worry about that just yet.
The win gives the Dominican team an expected early lead in the WBC’s Pool C. Each of the four teams - DR, Canada, the United States, and Colombia - will play one another once and the top two teams will move on to the next round of the tournament.
The big matchup between the DR and the USA will be on Saturday night at 6:30. The Dominican team has a day off on Friday, while the Americans will start their WBC schedule off tomorrow night against Colombia.