Play in Pool C of the World Baseball Classic got underway on Thursday with a game between the Dominican Republic and Canada, and it went pretty much how you’d imagine it would go. The Dominican Republic team, which is essentially a team full of All-Stars and the game’s most talented players (Adrian Beltre, Jose Bautista, Manny Machado, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz), cruised past Canada with barely a worry or stumble.
This matchup wasn’t one that the Dominican Republic seemed particularly worried about, and you could see it in their body language all night. They were loose and relaxed, having fun every step of the way. (Fernando Rodney even pulled a golden plantain out of his pants.) If you want an example of how overmatched Canada was, just look at who was batting fourth for each team: the DR had feared slugger and A+ beard-grower Jose Bautista, while Canada slotted in Eric Wood, a 24-year-old third baseman who hasn’t made it above Triple-A.
No, the marquee matchup will be between the Dominican Republic and the United States, which will take place Saturday at 6 p.m. ET (catch it on MLB Network or MLB.TV). The DR team seems ready for it, but so do their fans.
— Vian Araujo Puello (@vianaraujo) March 10, 2017
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 10, 2017
Those fans are hungry for their national team to beat the U.S. on their home soil. While the teams from both countries are talented, the difference between the two is highlighted in how the teams were built. While the U.S. had trouble getting marquee stars to fill out every position, the Dominican Republic is fielding a team of actual superstars. It’s a reminder that while baseball at its biggest and best is played in the United States, some of its best players are not from the U.S.
But before they face the DR and its murderers’ row of hitters, the U.S. has to face Colombia, which they’ll do on Friday at 6 p.m. ET (on MLB Network and MLB.TV). That is a slightly tougher first draw than the Dominican Republic facing Canada, especially since Jose Quintana is starting and his pitching skills are no joke. But the U.S. is starting Chris Archer on the mound, and the lineup will feature Daniel Murphy, Buster Posey, Paul Goldschmidt, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton: a formidable team with no shortage of talent.
Regardless of how they do against Colombia, Team USA will have to face the Dominican Republic on Saturday. Will Friday’s game be enough for them to get ready? It better be, because the Dominican Republic is more than ready to take them on.
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