* Chris Colabello celebrates after his three-run homer off Scott Mathieson (Aldergrove, BC) put Italy in the lead on the way to a 14-4 drubbing of Team Canada ... in a mercy loss. .... ELSEWHERE .... DOUG MILLER -- Italy crushes Canada .... Italy hammers Canada by 10 .... Twas a day like no other .... IAN DENOMME -- Canucks in tough spot .... TYLER HARPER -- Will international experience help? .... VID -- CBC on the Etobicoke Rangers lineage to the WBC .... Former Charleston Southern standout Swindle has been added to the Canadian team
By Bob Elliott
PHOENIX, Az. _ “We know what we have to do,” said Michael Saunders.
“We have to play baseball, in a tournament all you can do is win and take care of your business.”
This was after Canada failed to take care of any business -- except for making the team bus to Chase Field -- Friday in their opener of the World Baseball Classic.
Italy laid an embarrassing 14-4 mercy-rule beating on Canada and then plate ump Brian Knight stopped the fight on cuts with none out in the eighth.
But what now?
Canada plays Mexico Saturday and Team USA Sunday.
"We know we can beat Mexico, we've beat Mexico before," said Scott Mathieson. "We know we can beat Team USA, we've beaten them before."
The WBC rules on tie-breaking are over a page long, but the key graph seems to be: Team Quality Balance, the sum of runs scored divided by the number of innings played on offense, minus the number of runs allowed, divided by the number of innings played on defense (RS/IPO)-(RA/IPD)=TQB)).
For purposes of determining TQB only the scores from the games between the tied teams are to be used in the calculation.
Now, you know what Canada has to do. Win two.
Canada got some big help when Mexico upset Team USA, so now Canada has its fate in its own hands.
“We’re looking at Saturday instead of looking at the big picture,” said Scott Mathieson, who allowed four runs on five hits and two walks. “We’re not worried about winning two games, we’re worried about Saturday and winning one game.
“Guys in our clubhouse are in little bit of disbelief. At this point you have to forget about it.”
Now announcing: The Canada-Italy game brought back flashbacks to a visit to a minor-league hockey outpost in the southern U.S. when the announcer would say “icing!” or “offside” when the whistle blew.
The announcer at Chase Field made WBC announcements: “the pitcher is now within 20 pitches of his 65-pitch limit,” and if “either team is ahead by 15 runs after five innings or 10 after seven innings the umpires should call the came.”
The first time the mercy announcement was made in the second inning and we chuckled.
Then, the redoubtable Mario Chiarini hit a two-run single with zero out in the eighth and it was turn out the lights.
3-4-5: The meat of Canada’s order -- Joey Votto, Morneau and Saunders -- wasn’t filet mignon, but neither was it cole slaw.
They were a combined 3-for-7 with four walks as Italy pitchers pitched around when ever possible.
Votto’s career OPS vs. lefties is .898, Morneau’s .728 and Saunders career mark is .620.
Bunting, runting: While it is tough to look back at questionable calls in a 14-4 mercy loss there were a couple. Down 5-1 in the fourth. Morneau was on first after a single and reliever Chris Cooper issued a seven-pitch walk to Saunders. Whitt flashed the bunt sign to Chris Robinson, one of his two right-handed hitters.
Robinson got the job done, but Nos. 7 hitter Adam Loewen struck out and Peter Orr popped up.
“We were trying to chip away at the lead,” said Whitt. “We had a lot of game left and we’re full of left-hand hitters. We trust every hitter to do the job and we didn’t do it.
“That was my reason at that time. I wouldn’t have done it in the sixth. Fourth inning, yes.”
Down 6-2 in the seventh with nine outs remaining -- if Canada had played to the limit -- with Cale Iorg on first after a single, Tyson Gillies gave away an out, trying to bunt for a base hit on his own.
Canada did score twice to make it 6-4 on a Saunders two-run single.
Roots?: Toronto born Anthony Granato played shortstop for Italy and was 2-for-3 with a stolen base. Granato played at Virginia Commonwealth before spending three seasons in the Chicago Cubs farm system until 2004. Ever since he’s played independent ball and spent 2011 with San Marino in Italian Baseball League.
Toronto born John Mariotti, whose mother used to work at Andy Lawrence's Mini-Domes near Pearson Airport, started the opener for Italy, working 1 2/3 innings allowing four runs -- three earned -- on four hits and two walks. He struck out three.
“I am so far out of my element in this, but I'm enjoying myself,” said Mariotti, the former Team Ontario and Hamilton Astros right-hander under coach Murray Marshall.
And his next element for the Quebec Capitales starter could be starting Tuesday in Miami at Marlins Park.
When eligibility rules for the WBC were announced years ago Gene Orza of the Players Association explained that a player could play for the country where his mother or father were born.
“Except in the case of Italy and then anyone who has ever eaten a pizza can play,” said Orza. “And I can say that because I’m Italian.”
Italy has two players whose great-great grand parents are from Italy, eight grand parents, 12 great grand parents and two grand parents born in Italy.
And four major leaguers.