WBC: USA Rides Nine-run First to Mercy Rule Win over Canada

Mike Trout celebrating a home run in the USA victory over Canada in the World Baseball Classic.
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

USA 12, Canada 1 (7 Innings, Mercy Rule)

PHOENIX, Mar. 13 — One day after mercy-ruling Great Britain, Team Canada found itself on the business end of a mercy rule, bowing to Team USA, 12–1, Monday night. All nine USA starters either scored or drove in at least one run in the win.

Lance Lynn pitched a 1-2-3 top of the first, striking out two. This marked the first time USA did not give up a home run in the first inning all tournament long. In the bottom of the inning, Team USA took out all its’ frustrations from their big loss to Mexico Sunday night. It came off 19-year-old Mitch Bratt, a lefty who pitched at the Single-A level in 2022. Right fielder Mookie Betts singled. Both designated hitter Mike Trout and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt walked before third baseman Nolan Arenado belted a two-run double to the left-field corner. Goldschmidt advanced to third on the play and scored when left fielder Kyle Tucker hit a sacrifice fly to left.  After a walk by second baseman Tim Anderson, catcher J.T. Realmuto ripped a single to center. Anderson advanced to third as Arenado scored, making the score 4–0.

USA Continues Roll, Canada Avoids Shutout

That ended the day for Bratt, who had thrown nine strikes on 25 pitches. New pitcher R.J. Freure got fleet-footed shortstop Trea Turner to hit a grounder to third. Abraham Toro whipped it to second to force Anderson for the second out, but the relay to first had no chance to get Turner. Center fielder Cedric Mullins, the ninth hitter of the inning, smoked a triple to the right-field corner, scoring Turner to make the score 6–0.

That brought up Betts for the second time in the inning. He took a slider off the back, putting runners on the corners for Trout. He crushed a towering fly to left-center, making the score 9–0 with the three-run bomb. Freure got out of the inning by getting Goldschmidt to ground to the shortstop.

Canada got a run back with a leadoff homer in the top of the second, a fly over the right field fence by designated hitter Jared Young. USA picked up where it left off in the bottom half, where a walk by Arenado and triple by Anderson sandwiched a foul pop to the third baseman by Tucker. This made the score 10–1 with one out. Realmuto made it 11–1 with two out on a sacrifice fly to center. Turner followed with a majestic home run to left, making it 12–1, before Mullins ended the inning on a called third strike.

Maintaining the Margin

With USA leading by 11, this meant that keeping Canada off the scoreboard the rest of the way would make the game end in the middle of the seventh. With how taxed their relievers were from Sunday’s loss to Mexico, Lynn tried to get as far as he could on the 65 pitches he was allotted. He made it to the end of the fifth, with his only blemish being a one-out single to center by Toro in the fifth. His 65th pitch struck out right fielder Denzel Clarke, ending his outing with a line that made manager Mark DeRosa happy — five innings, two hits, six strikeouts, and the only earned run being the solo homer in the second.

Miles Mikolas took over in the sixth, pitching around a single and a double to keep the score 12–1. In the top of the seventh, Mikolas gave up a one-out single to right by Toro. But a fly to right and a called strikeout of Clarke ended the game.

Postgame Reflections

Canada manager Ernie Whitt said, “Coming into the tournament, we knew we had to win three games. If we win the next two games, we will move on.” He said the pitching staff didn’t throw enough strikes, walked a lot of guys, and were often behind in the count. “When you do that with this type of team over there,” he said while referring to Team USA, “you’re going to get beat.”

He was not happy with the results, obviously, but his team still controls its’ own destiny. This is despite the run differential tiebreakers, something that will not work in Canada’s favor after giving up 20 runs in 14 innings. “It’s tough to bounce back from a nine-spot in the first inning,” he said. “And let me just put it this way — no one likes to get beat. I’m ticked off that we got beat. But we got beat by a pretty good team over there, so I’m not worried about that. I keep telling myself our goal was to advance. We can advance with not worrying about the run differential if we win the next two games.”

Whitt also said about Bratt, “I put him in a tough situation. So I’ll take the heat for that. But he’s going to be fine. His attitude was, ‘If I get him out, it’s a bonus. If I don’t, well, that’s an All-Star team over there.’ And he knows that he’s got work to do.”

Team USA

DeRosa praised the complete effort from his team, but his biggest focus was Lynn. “What Lance did tonight was huge,” he stated emphatically. “Huge for us to kind of reset the bullpen. It kind of went perfectly. Nine runs in the first, everyone was relaxed. Everyone was a part of it, passing the baton. Mikey went deep. Trea Turner went deep. But the story for me will be Lance Lynn taking it right to 65 pitches, getting through five innings, allowing Miles to come in with a clean inning, no traffic. Everything we needed.” He later added, “I know the offense broke out, and I loved everybody contributing. But for me the story was what Lance was able to do. Period.”

DeRosa wanted to have both Trea Turner and Tim Anderson in the lineup. Both are shortstops, so he asked Anderson to play second base. Anderson gladly accepted. DeRosa raved about Anderson, calling him “a talented ballplayer,” pointing out that he gave the team “a spark” and “an edge,” both in the lineup and the dugout. DeRosa compared Anderson to Texas Rangers legend Michael Young, himself a former teammate of DeRosa.

Anderson summed up the night as “fun. Just fun.” He explained, “Being in the lineup with so many dudes, you ain’t really got to do too much. The whole goal is really to just pass the stick, and I think you’ve seen it out of the gate tonight. And we just kept pouring it on them.”

Looking Ahead

Team Canada and Team USA are Team Colombia’s next two opponents. Canada will face them Tuesday afternoon, while USA will face them Wednesday evening. On Wednesday afternoon, Canada will face Mexico. If both USA and Canada win out, they will advance to the quarterfinals in Miami, with USA winning Pool C due to winning the head-to-head matchup. First pitch for the afternoon games will be at 12:07 pm Arizona Time/3:07 pm Eastern Time, while the evening game will be at 7:07 pm Arizona Time/10:07 pm Eastern Time.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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