Team Canada kicks off World Baseball Classic with 18-8 mercy rule spanking of Great Britian
Photo credit:© Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports
2 months ago
With the World Baseball Classic getting underway last week, Team Canada will be playing their round-robin matchups in Phoenix, Arizona in a tough Pool C with the United States, Mexico, Colombia, and Great Britain.
Since the tournament’s inception in 2006, Canada has made every single tournament but has not produced top results. They have failed to advance out of the round-robin stage and their best outing was during the 2016 showcase, with Canada posting a 2-1 record and finishing third in Pool B and not advancing.
Fast forward to this year and the Canadian squad has a solid mix of players with international experience as well as time spent in the big leagues and in the minor leagues. I wrote a piece going into depth on the roster back in February, which you can find here.
Canada’s first game at the World Baseball Classic was against Great Britain, which qualified for the tournament and took the last spot in the pool.
First-inning struggles for Canada and Great Britain
With Canada being the home team, Great Britain went up to bat first and capitalized on a shaky start from Cleveland Guardian’s right-hander Cal Quantrill, Canada’s ace in the rotation. Quantrill allowed four walks and three earned runs and was unable to get out of the first inning, throwing 37 pitches with just 17 strikes. Walks to Chavez Young and Matt Koperniak allowed Young to score later in the inning on a double steal, with catcher Bo Naylor trying to end the inning at second base. Three more walks and two singles would score two more runs before veteran Phillippe Aumont was brought in to end the inning, getting a ground ball out.
Canada responded immediately with Edouard Julien hitting a clutch home run off Akeel Morris’s first pitch of the game, a 401-foot drive to right field that left the bat at 110.1 MPH (the first instance in the World Baseball Classic for a player’s first-ever at-bat in the tournament). The top of Canada’s lineup would craft a couple of walks and some contact to get five runs in total on the board, with 11 batters coming to the plate and knocking Morris out in the first inning as well.
Aumont would come out to pitch in the second inning but allowed another run to make the score 5-4, but Canada utilized walks by Tyler O’Neill and Jared Young in the bottom of the inning followed by an Abraham Toro double to left field to add another tally for Canada, making it 6-4.
Great Britain would add a run in the top of the third inning but Cubs prospect Owen Caissie would respond with a loud home run to straightaway centre field, making it 7-5 before a rally started by the backend of the lineup tacked on three more, with Tyler O’Neill clearing the bases with a right-field double, making it 10-5.
Southpaw Evan Rutckyj, who started the third inning, would go 1.2 innings total, allowing four earned runs off four hits, two walks, and one loud home run to Harry Ford in the fourth inning that brought the score to within two runs at 10-8. Great Britain had a chance to potentially add to their lead but baserunning miscues from BJ Murray Jr. and Darnell Sweeney kept both players on the bases, with Sweeney thinking he hit a home run but the ball stayed in play, with both players ending up on second and third. D’Shawn Knowles would strike out to reliever Curtis Taylor on a 96 MPH sinker, ending the inning.
A high scoring affair for Team Canada and Great Britain
After two and a half hours, the game eventually crossed the fifth inning mark and collectively, nine different pitchers had been used.
Canada added some more runs in the bottom of the fourth, courtesy of a Freddie Freeman single that bounced off Great Britain pitcher Donavan Benoit, scoring Jacob Robson from second base with Tyler O’Neill scoring Julien on a single to right field shortly after. To make it 13-8, with the bases loaded, Jays prospect Otto Lopez hit a weak ground ball to third base and Freddie Freeman scored from third, with Lopez reaching. Bases-loaded walks to Abraham Toro and Bo Naylor added two more runs, with Caissie adding another run after grounding into a fielder’s choice and beating out the double play. Julien would strike out on a changeup to end the inning with Canada going into the fifth inning with a 16-8 lead.
Taylor would go back to the bump for Canada and put up the first zero in the game, getting Anfernee Seymour to ground out to first before getting Young and Trayce Thompson to strikeout swinging on a mid-80s cutter and a mid-90s fastball down the middle respectively.
Canada would add two more runs in the bottom of the fifth and veteran John Axford would get the ball in the top of the sixth. Axford, who underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2021 and has been a main staple on the international stage for quite some time, pitched another clean inning including a strikeout to Justin Wylie.
The Canadians would add another run in the bottom of the sixth inning after an errant throw from Darnell Sweeney scored a run, making it 18-8 and enacting the mercy run rule.
Heading into the seventh inning, manager Ernie Whitt brought in Seattle Mariners reliever Matt Brash, with the right-hander needing three outs to end the game. Brash would deliver, generating three strikeouts and giving Canada its first-ever mercy rule win in World Baseball Classic history.
Team Canada’s Bats Show Up Big
Team Canada did not use a single bench player in the game and used six different arms to get the job done, highlighted by Taylor, Axford, and Brash who each pitched a clean inning. Aumont earned the win in the game. The 18-8 contest set a World Baseball Classic record for most runs in a single game during the tournament’s history (26 total).
Looking at the lineup, only Naylor and Jared Young were unable to find a hit in the game for Canada while Julien’s only knock came in the form of a solo home run. Every other batter had two or more hits in the contest. The Canadian batters were also patient at the plate, generating 16 walks in the game, led by Julien and his four free passes with Young and Naylor adding three more of their own. Only Caissie did not find a walk.
Julien and Caissie each hit their own solo home run while Tyler O’Neill and Jacob Robson led the team with separate 4 for 4 performances with O’Neill also adding four RBIs and Caissie and Toro each adding three RBIs of their own. Canada went 9 for 24 with runners in scoring position while Robson also added a stolen base.
Canada’s next contest will come tomorrow against a stacked United States squad, with Rangers prospect Mitch Bratt currently slated to get the start against the USA.
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