After a third straight rough start on Sunday afternoon, Team USA found themselves in an early 2-0 hole against Canada. For the second day in a row, though, the Americans' All-Star laden lineup came through late in the game and buried their opponents. This time, the US turned a 3-2 eighth inning deficit into a 9-4 win, which ran their record to 2-1 on the tournament and clinched them first place in Pool D along with a berth into the second round. For Canada, the loss makes it three straight WBCs in which they've been eliminated in the first round.
Long before the late rally, though, things looked like they could've gotten ugly for the US. The bottom of the second inning began like this for Canada: Justin Morneau double, Michael Saunders home run, Chris Robinson single, Adam Loewen single. Four straight hits, two runs in, runners on the corner, and no outs. Derek Holland somehow escaped the jam without letting another run score, though. That meant that when the US finally got to Canadian starter Jameson Taillon in the fourth inning (partially thanks to some sloppy Canadian defense), they were able to tie the game up at 2-2.
After the US tied things up, the next few innings were uneventful. Canada took the lead in the sixth on an Adam Loewen RBI single, but they had runners on first and second with no outs that inning and stranded two runners. Canada's inability to break the game open left the door hanging open for the United States, and in the eighth inning they finally came charging through. Adam Jones hit a one-out, two-run double to flip the score to 4-3 in favor of the US, then Shane Victorino knocked Jones in two batters later. When Canada scored again to make it a 5-4 game after eighth, the US finally opened up the flood gates in the top of the ninth. Brandon Philips started things off with a double, then scored on a Jonathan Lucroy single. After David Wright walked and Ben Zobrist singled to load the bases up, Eric Hosmer cleared them with a double that provided the final margin of victory.
The first round was hardly a smooth ride for the US team, but today's win means that they're exactly where they hoped they'd be after three games: first place in Pool D, opening the second round up against a team other than the Dominican Republic. They found themselves behind at least 2-0 to Mexico, Italy, and Canada and really managed to advance because the bullpens of Canada and Italy were awfully weak. It would stand to reason that the US won't be able to win the tournament without managing to play a full game, though in a Round 2 pool with Italy and Puerto Rico, they may not need that full game until the semifinals.
The second round pool kicks off on Tuesday in Miami for the US, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Italy. The Dominican Republic and Italy play first at 1 PM ET. The US and Puerto Rico have the nightcap at 8 PM.