TAMPA, FL – Team Canada only needed one inning to take care of the New York Yankees as the Canadians came out strong in the first inning and the pitching took care of the rest as the Canucks topped the Yankees 6-0 in their final World Baseball Classic exhibition.
Canada took advantage of an erratic Joba Chamberlain, who started for the Yankees, scoring all six of their runs in the first frame. Chamberlain would only last five hitters, walking four and did not record an out before being pulled from the game.
Jonathan Albaladejo came in relief of Chamberlain and inherited a bases loaded situation with no outs and 2-0 deficit. Matt Stairs (Fredericton, NB) put the dagger in the inning with a two-run double, scoring Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, ON) and Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) and made it 4-0.
Mark Teahen (Redlands, CA) drove in the fifth Canadian run on a sacrifice fly to bring in Jason Bay (Trail, BC) and then Stairs would score the final run on a Luke Carlin (Aylmer, QC) RBI single.
“We were able to take advantage of some mistakes today,” says Morneau.”It’s important as a team to recognize what’s going on out there. We have alot of professional hitters here that have been around long enough and are able to realize those situations and that’s what we did in that first inning.”
The Canadian pitching then took it from there and was lights out, beginning with starter Scott Diamond (Guleph, ON). Diamond went two innings and only allowed a pair of walks in what was a solid outing. He also struck out a pair.
“This was my first time facing big league hitters and guys on the 40-man roster, so I was pretty excited about it,” says Diamond.
“I was pretty nervous going out there facing that Yankee lineup, they have some pretty big hitters, but I was able to settle down after the first couple of strikes and stay calm and not get ahead of myself.”
The shutout was preserved the rest of the way with the help of Jesse Crain (Toronto, ON), Steve Green (Greenfield Park, QC), David Davidson (St. Catherines, ON) and T.J. Burton (Ottawa, ON).
All told, the Canadian pitchers allowed only four hits to a Yankee lineup that featured Mark Texeira, Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera, Hideki Matsui and Xavier Nady.
With the exhibiton portion of Team Canada’s schedule now over, Manager Ernie Whitt says his troops are set for action.
“All the players are ready to go,” says Whitt. “I hate to use an old cliché but we’re going to take it one game at a time. If our pitchers can throw strikes and our offence does what it does we will be in good shape.”
“Alot of pitchers I hadn’t seen before, alot of players I hadn’t seen before but I’m impressed,” adds Whitt. “We’re going to be led by our offence but I’m confident in our arms... they’re inexperienced arms, but they’re quality arms and now we’re going to see how they handle the big stage once we get there.”
Team Canada now makes its way to Toronto where they will hold a workout on Friday morning at the Rogers Centre and will then open the first round of the World Baseball Classic against the United States on Saturday, March 7th with game time at 2 pm at the Rogers Centre.