Jorge L. Ortiz , USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI – Breaking down Sunday’s Pool C game of the World Baseball Classic between Canada and the United States.
United States 8, Canada 0:
The game: The potent U.S. lineup pounded out seven runs in the first two innings and the Americans went on to cruise to a victory that secured their berth in the second round.
A loss would have forced Team USA to play a Monday tiebreaker against Colombia, but the outcome of this game was not in doubt for long.
The U.S. jumped right away on Canada’s Ryan Dempster, who was starting for the second time in four days after not pitching professionally since 2013. He was shaky against the Dominican Republic on Thursday and eminently hittable Sunday, failing to make it out of the first inning. Eric Hosmer’s two-run double was the key blow in a three-run first in which the Americans batted around and knocked out Dempster after just one out.
Nolan Arenado touched lefty Andrew Albers for a three-run homer in the second as the U.S. extended its lead to 7-0.
That took some pressure off left-hander Danny Duffy, who gave up two hits in four sparkling innings.
State of Pool C: The Dominican Republic captured the top seed by going 3-0, extending its winning streak in the WBC to 11 games, and Team USA came in second at 2-1. Its Sunday victory eliminated Colombia (1-2), which nonetheless acquitted itself admirably in its first tournament appearance. Canada finished 0-3.
Man of the moment: Duffy. Just like his predecessors, Chris Archer and Marcus Stroman, Duffy threw shutout ball over four innings, and he was even more dominant, striking out seven. He left with a 7-0 lead after throwing 63 pitches, and this time Mychal Givens and rest of the bullpen held down the fort.
Duffy had said it would be emotional to watch the jersey of his late teammate, Yordano Ventura, hanging from the dugout of the Dominican team in their Saturday game. There were no such tugs at the heartstrings against the Canadians, whom he dispatched with ease.
U.S. starters yielded five hits and no runs over 12 2/3 innings over their three Pool C games.
Pivot point: The ceremonial first pitch? Once former Marlins standout Al Leiter did the honors and the game started, it was all USA. Canada’s best hope coming in was to earn a win and force a three-way tie at 1-2 with the U.S. and Colombia, but its chances essentially vanished after the first two innings.
Needing a mulligan: Albers. Dempster certainly didn’t fare well, but it’s hard to expect much from a 39-year-old who hasn’t pitched since 2013. In some ways, Albers was even worse, allowing the game to get out of hand by yielding four runs in 1 2/3 innings.
A 10-game starter for the Minnesota Twins in 2013, Albers has a 4.41 ERA in parts of three major league seasons and will be rejoining the Atlanta Braves camp now that Canada’s run in the WBC has ended.
Managers special: With a berth in the second round at stake, U.S. manager Jim Leyland was taking no chances. Despite the large early lead, he kept most of his regulars in the game. It wasn’t until the seventh inning that Josh Harrison got to see his first action of the tournament, pinch-hitting for Ian Kinsler and staying in the game to play second base. Infielder Alex Bregman got in as well, pinch-hitting for Arenado in the eighth.
What you missed on TV: The large swaths of empty seats in the stands, in contrast to the Colombia-Dominican Republic game, attended by a boisterous capacity crowd of 36,952. The nightcap drew 22,303 even though the U.S. was playing for a spot in the second round. The whole Pool C attendance for the six games was announced as 163,878.