WBC: Canada and Mexico Are in the Same Boat: Win or Go Home

Mexico manager Benji Gil and Canada manager Ernie Whitt
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) Right: PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MARCH 14: Manager Ernie Whitt #12 of Team Canada looks on during the World Baseball Classic Pool C game against Team Colombia at Chase Field on March 14, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

WBC: For Canada and Mexico, It’s Win or Go Home

PHOENIX, Mar. 15 — Canada and Mexico square off on the final day of pool play in the World Baseball Classic Wednesday. Both teams have identical 2–1 records, so this game is win-or-go-home.

The big news from the pregame session with Canada manager Ernie Whitt regarded first baseman Freddie Freeman. In Tuesday’s game against Colombia, Freeman left the game with hamstring discomfort. Whitt disclosed that he’s out of the tournament “for now.” This decision came from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Freeman’s major league club. Whitt said the Dodgers medical staff was evaluating Freeman further.

It will make Canada’s efforts to defeat Mexico more challenging, but Mexico still expects a difficult game. First baseman Rowdy Tellez said it will “definitely play a factor,” adding the list of Freeman’s credentials. But Tellez reminded everyone present, “There’s another eight guys in that lineup. They’re going to fill his spot with somebody.”

Canada, Mexico Have Same Mindset

Tellez said the mindset for Team Mexico is simply that they need to win. “It is a big game,” he said. “It’s either win or go home. (We need to) try to go in there and not play with that kind of pressure but have that mentality.”

Team Canada feels the same way, according to Whitt. “We know what we have to do. My only concern is we have one more run at the end of the ninth. That’s the bottom line for us — win or go home; win and advance. It’s right in front of us. It’s in our controls.”

And any thoughts of Canada having some sort of advantage over Mexico due to sports transference — Canada mercy ruled Great Britain, but Mexico edged them by a run — do not exist. “That’s why you play the game,” he said. “They’re a good ball club over there. Mexico is a good ball club. Let’s tip our hats to Great Britain, too. They were a scrappy team. Their defense was a little shaky, but they had speed. They put pressure on the defense. And you’ve got to give Great Britain some credit for coming out. They were in every ball game. We mercied them, but, again, they jumped out to a 3-0 lead on us, and it was back and forth, back and forth. We know what’s at hand. Mexico’s good. We’re good. We’ll see what happens. That’s why you play the game.”

Big-game Pitcher

Mexico starting pitcher Jose Urquidy has pitched in three World Series — 2019, 2021, and 2022, all with the Houston Astros. That experience factored into Mexico manager Benji Gil’s decision to start him. “(We felt) he would be a great option to throw in a game of this magnitude because he’s done it a (few) different times. So I think it sets up well. His character, his poise is kind of the poise you need for this type of game. It’s a postseason-type, win-at-all-costs type of game. And I think — not that the other guys aren’t capable — but then we have the perfect guy going for us today.”

First pitch of Canada–Mexico is at 12:08 pm Arizona Time/3:08 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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