In Thursday’s game against the Dominican Republic, there was but a single Canadian player who stood out from the pack and had legitimately impressive performance. That player was pitcher Andrew Albers, who threw two shutout innings in relief, giving up just a solitary hit and needing just 28 pitches to get through the incredibly stacked Dominican lineup. However, after just those 28 pitches, Albers was lifted from the game. Since then I’ve really been struggling to find the justification for why he was removed so quickly.
If Canada was already getting shelled, and the result was well out of reach at the time, I’d have nothing to complain about. However in the top half of that inning, Canada had scratched out their second run of the game, and only trailed by two runs at the time.
If Canada had intended to ensure Albers would be available for the next two games in the tournament, they only had to ensure he throw fewer than 45 pitches. He easily could’ve pitched another inning and still been available for use today or tomorrow.
But no, Albers was removed from the game and all but one of the subsequent five Canadian pitchers proceeded to give up a run, leading to the 9-2 final score.
I’ll be honest, I got frustrated when Albers was lifted from the game, and it wasn’t because I thought Canada had a good chance to beat the Dominicans or anything. I was frustrated because I have no idea what Canada’s objective is in this tournament, and I don’t think the team itself knows either.
To my eyes, the pitching staff for Thursday’s game was handled like an All-Star game, as though the objective was to get as many pitchers into the game as possible. Aside from the questionable Albers pull, Ernie Whitt seemed to be paying very little attention to platoon splits with his relievers.
Thus far, this tournament has been about longshot underdogs coming through. Whether it was Israel winning their group, Italy upsetting the Mexicans Thursday night, or Colombia pushing the Americans to extra innings on Friday, this tournament has shown that even when there’s a huge talent deficit, crazy things happen in baseball. I don’t believe that Canada put this roster together with an eye to pulling off the crazy upset, nor do I think yesterday’s game was managed with that in mind.
Attention now turns to Canada’s game today vs. the Colombians, a game that Canada almost certainly needs to win if they hope to automatically qualify for the next iteration of the World Baseball Classic. For this critical tilt, Canada will turn to their best pitcher, Phillies right handed prospect Nick Pivetta. Colombia will counter with Braves ace Julio Teheran. Canada will be in tough, especially against a Colombian team that will either be on a high after such an impressive performance against the Americans on Friday, or feel like they have something to prove after losing on a walk-off in a game started by Jose Quintana.
This is the lineup Canada will be going with:
Canada lineup vs. Colombia (Teheran)
— Today in the MLB (@TodayintheMLB) March 11, 2017
And here’s who they’ll be facing:
Colombia lineup @ Canada (Pivetta)
— Today in the MLB (@TodayintheMLB) March 11, 2017
The game starts at noon ET. Fingers crossed.
- For the Dominicans, Jose Bautista looked outstanding at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a moonshot of a homerun. This obviously comes with endless caveats. The production came against a collection of (retired) journeymen, and minor leaguers, but the ball went really far, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I’m so happy he’s back
- On the flip side, Bautista looked poor both on the base paths, and in the outfield. First in the top of the 5thinning, Bautista failed to corral a Dalton Pompey fly ball to left, which turned into a run scoring double. Then in the bottom of the same inning, Bautista was thrown out at home (on an excellent relay by both Pompey & shortstop Jonathan Malo). On both plays Bautista looked incredibly slow afoot, and further reinforced my belief that the Jays would be better off if Bautista transitioned to first base
- I’m generally not one to root for someone to lose their job, but on a day when Postmedia here on the west coast laid off nearly 40% of their newspaper staff, I just don’t understand how Steve Simmons remains employed. He is a bitter small man, who is clearly just a troll.
- Jonathan Malo, who I still know almost literally nothing about, had a fairly notable game. Aside from the aforementioned relay throw, Malo reached on an error, and scored later via a balk by Dominican starter Carlos Martinez. That’s grit!
- George Kottaras played! He got a hit. This makes me happy.
- Or rather it would, if he hadn’t been pinch hit for in the 9th While I’m well aware that no one loves Mr. Kottaras as much as I do, I can’t for the life of me figure out why Ernie Whitt decided that Kottaras was the one who deserved to be pinch hit for, and not retired, soft-hitting 2ndbaseman Pete Orr. The only possible explanation I can think of is that Ernie Whitt thinks that Pete Orr is a better hitter than George Kottaras, and that is frankly insane.
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