March 8, 2016
10 Year Anniversary! “U.S. EH! Canada Stuns American Powerhouse at World Baseball Classic”
*This article originally appeared on baseball.ca on March 8th, 2006.
By Luc Hebert
PHOENIX, Az. – Adam Stern (Port Stanley, Ont.) was a double away from hitting for the cycle and Canada held the United States scoreless eight of nine innings without using one current Major League pitcher to shock the Americans 8-6, Wednesday, at the World Baseball Classic.
Stern went 3-for-4 with an inside the park homerun, a triple, a single, one run scored and four RBIs to pace the Canadian attack offensively and was a catalyst defensively in centre field making several key plays including a sensational running catch against the wall on a deep fly from Chase Utley in the bottom of the eighth with two out and two aboard to preserve Canada’s two-run victory.
“We know we don’t have the same depth as the U.S., but that’s why we play these games,” said Stern “Over 162 games, I’m not sure we’d get the same results, but in a short tournament like this where just one game can make a big difference you just have to go out there and play like it’s your last game.”
On the mound, Canada used five pitchers with a combined average age of just over 24 years old – none of which are current major leaguers.
Starter Adam Loewen, 21, (Surrey, B.C.) gave up a bloop single to Derek Jeter and walked the next two batters he faced, loading the bases to start the first inning, but got Chipper Jones to ground into an inning-ending double play to quash the American threat. From there, Loewen gave an all-star studded U.S. line-up fits, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings and allowing only three hits and three walks.
“At that point, we were only up 1-0, so we really needed to bear down and get those two outs,” he said. “I had to make the best pitch I possibly could and hope for the best. It set the tone for the next couple of innings and I felt more comfortable out there.”
The Canadian bullpen only had one major hiccup giving up a six-run inning to the United States in the bottom of the fifth. Chris Begg, 26 (Uxbridge, Ont.) gave up a single to Ken Griffey Jr and a double to Derek Lee for the first two runs posted by the United States. After giving up a single up the middle to Jones and walking Vernon Wells to load the bases, Begg was replaced by 27-year-old Eric Cyr (Montréal, Qué.) to face Jason Varitek.
After fans had been booing the American team periodically throughout the first four innings of play, Varitek turned the boos into an electric uproar taking Cyr deep on a 2-2 pitch for a 448-foot grand slam to straight-away centre, cutting Canada’s lead to just two, 8-6. From there Cyr settled down and threw very well, going 2 1/3 innings, allowing only one hit and one run while striking out two.
Scott Mathieson, 22 (Aldergrove, B.C.) then came in to throw a hitless eighth, setting things up for Steve Green, 27 (Longueuil, Qué.) who silenced the heart of the American line-up to pick up the save.
After having less than 12 hours of rest following a harrowing 11-8 win over South Africa Tuesday night, Canada showed no signs of fatigue, scoring in each of its first five innings to take an 8-0 lead on the Americans. Canada’s first three hits off of U.S. starter Dontrelle Willis were all triples. Stubby Clapp (Windsor, Ont.) hit a triple in the top of the first and was driven in by Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) to kick star the Canadian attack. Just one inning later, Aaron Guiel (Vancouver, BC) and Stern hit back to back triples to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.
Willis struggled from the start, allowing five earned runs behind six hits and two walks in only 2 2/3 innings of work. Pierre-Luc Laforest (Hull, Qué.) ran out an RBI-infield single with two out to make it 3-0 for Canada in the top of the third and knock Willis from the game much earlier than he would have liked. Laforest’s soft single kept the third inning alive for Canada who scored another pair of runs as Stern took an Al Leiter offering up the middle for a two-RBI single and a 5-0 Canadian lead.
Canada increased its lead to 7-0 in the fourth as Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.) hit another two-RBI double up the middle into center field, and Stern took care of Canada’s final run all by himself crushing a shot deep to left field that took a hop on the fence and came back into play in no mans land in left-centre field allowing him to fly around the bases for the first-ever inside the park homerun in World Baseball Classic history.
Canada’s 2-0 record in the World Baseball Classic, puts it alone in first place in Pool B with only one game remaining on their first-round schedule against Mexico, Thursday at Chase Field.
Despite being the only undefeated team remaining in the pool, Canada is not yet assured of a spot in the second round. With a win over Mexico, Thursday, Canada would secure first place in Pool B and face Korea Sunday March, 12 in Anaheim California.
However, Canada can still move on with a loss to Mexico.
The first tie-breaker criteria in the World Baseball Classic comes down to runs against per inning in games exclusively involving teams which are tied. The United States currently sits at 8 runs against while Canada has allowed 6 and Mexico has allowed 2.
The possible results, barring a South African upset of Mexico or the United Sates.
Canada beats Mexico – Canada would finish first a 3-0, the United States would finish second at 2-1 and the Mexicans would be eliminated with a 1-2 record.
Mexico beats Canada and scores three runs or more – Mexico and the United States would advance with 2-1 records. Despite having the same record, Canada would be eliminated after having allowed more runs than the Americans (nine or more).
Mexico beats Canada and scores two runs in their victory – All teams would finish with a 2-1 record, but Mexico would advance as the first seed, allowing the fewest runs. Canada and the United States would both finish with 2-1 records and eight runs against. Canada would move on to the second round virtue of their head-to-head win over the United States.
Mexico beats Canada and scores one run in their victory – All teams would finish with a 2-1 record, but Mexico would advance as the first seed, allowing the fewest runs. Canada would advance as the second seed, having only allowed seven runs to the eight runs allowed by the United States.
If Canada and Mexico tie (games in the first round end after 14 innings) Canada and the United States would advance with two wins each, while Mexico would be eliminated with only one win.
Canada’s final first-round game against Mexico will be played at 8 p.m. EST at Chase Field in Phoenix, Az. The game will be televised live at 8 p.m. EST on Rogers Sportsnet East and Ontario. The game will also be available on tape delay at 1:00 am EST on Rogers Sportsnet West and 2 a.m. EST on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific. For those without cable or satellite services, the game can also be followed live at www.worldbaseballclassic.com.