It’s over. Team Canada, which captured the collective imagination of Canadian baseball fans with a great performance against the U.S. Saturday, bowed out of the World Baseball Classic last night with what was undeniably an embarrassing effort against Italy at the Rogers Centre.
Canada, let down by its pitching, was never in it against the underdog Italians, who scored four runs in the first four innings en route to a 6-2 win that eliminated Canada from the double-knockout global tournament. This was undeniably a bitter pill to swallow for the Canadians. They were playing with a great lineup in their home country. After losing 6-5 to the USA in a stirring game before 42,000-plus fans, the Canadians were expected to handle the Italians and advance to a do-or-die game tonight against Venezuela.
Was Canada looking past the Italians? Italy was a team that manager Marco Mazzieri said was based mostly on “guys who play (in Europe) and have day jobs.”
Canadian manager Ernie Whitt insisted that was not the case. But Whitt left himself open for second guessers by starting veteran minor leaguer Vince Perkins and saving Blue Jays starter Scott Richmond — considered Canada’s ace — for a potential game against Venezuela.
“If we don’t make it to (the Venezuela game), you can write I’m a bonehead for not starting Richmond,” Whitt said for before the game. “Hopefully, we’ll be in a position where I won’t look like a bonehead.”
Perkins led an onslaught of ineffective pitching that saw six Canadian hurlers surrender seven walks and nine hits.