USA, Canada play do-or-die game at WBC
(Sports Network) - It's win or go home on Sunday when the United States and Canada vie for a spot in the second round at the World Baseball Classic.
Both Pool D participants lost their first games, but rebounded with wins on Saturday. David Wright's grand slam propelled the U.S. past Italy on Saturday, while Canada fought its way past Mexico to set up what will essentially be a playoff game at Chase Field.
Italy has already advanced to the second round which will get underway on Tuesday at Marlins Ballpark.
The United States was a heavy favorite entering this tournament, but found itself on the ropes after losing its opener to Mexico on Friday. However, Joe Torre's club bounced back on Saturday, despite falling behind early, riding Wright's blast to a 6-2 win.
"The way we played today, it was beautiful," said Brandon Phillips, who also drove in a run in the win. "Hopefully we can take that into the game tomorrow and try to get a win, because we really want this bad."
Getting the call for the U.S. on Sunday will be lefty Derek Holland. However, Torre's bullpen should be well rested after Ross Detwiler tossed four scoreless innings to close out the win against Italy.
The U.S. has gotten out of the first round in its two previous WBC appearances, but has never finished better than fourth.
Canada, meanwhile, was hammered by Italy in its opener, but bounced back nicely against Mexico with a 10-3 win on Saturday, in a game that will be remembered for something else.
The real story of this contest happened in the top of the ninth inning, when Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon hit Canada's Rene Tosoni to start a brawl between the two teams.
Before the incident, Leon threw a pitch behind Tosoni and the umpires warned both teams. Tosoni was hit by the next pitch, and both benches immediately cleared. As the two teams brawled, fights in the stands ensued as well.
As a result, Leon, Eduardo Arredondo, Oliver Perez and Alfredo Aceves were tossed for Mexico, while Tosoni along with fellow Canadian players Pete Orr and Jay Johnson were also ejected.
Just before the incident, Chris Robinson bunted for a hit. That's when apparently third baseman Cruz, who fielded the bunt, told Leon to hit a batter.
Because a WBC tiebreaker depends mostly on runs, Canada was apparently trying to widen its lead.
"In this tournament it's-- you play baseball like it's 0-0. That's the unfortunate thing," Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt said. "What happened tonight is because of the rulings that they have. Regular baseball, during the season, you would never see that happening. But because of the run differential that they have, you play it like an 0-0 game the whole time."
After the brawl occurred, Canada pitching coach Denis Boucher was hit in the face with a water bottle from the stands, prompting shortstop Cale Iorg to throw the bottle back into the stands.
"We didn't bring yesterday's game into today's game, and we won't bring today's game into tomorrow's game," Morneau said Saturday. "We'll start over again, and hopefully it's a good, clean game, but you never know what's going to happen."
Canada will turn to righty Jameson Taillon on Sunday. One of the top pitching prospects in the majors, Taillon was 9-8 with a 3.55 ERA in stints at Class A and Double-A last year in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
Along with Italy, Sunday's winner will join the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in Pool 2.
03/10 08:35:34 ET