Team USA had little to show for itself when all was said and done in the first World Baseball Classic, so it had something to prove in its opener this time around. Team Canada, meanwhile, played on home turf, in front of a crowd the likes of which the Blue Jays haven't been able to draw to the Rogers Centre since 1993.
And so there was a kind of bombastic, cornfed, North American style to this game, the debut for these two teams in the second-ever World Baseball Classic. There would be five home runs between the sides when all was said and done, and a surprising amount of drama, given it was March baseball.
Pitching performances were the difference in the end--in a game with very little wiggle room, the USA pitching staff just barely won a heroic arm-wrestling match with team Canada. Whenever the big flies let up, it was to allow for a fist-pumping, hollering walk off the field after a called third strike with runners in scoring position. They were miniaturized efforts, beginning with Jake Peavy's three-inning appearance, but otherwise felt uncannily like we'd all suddenly been transported back a few months to October.
Team Canada began the one-potato, two-potato scoring and had a one-run lead before one Kevin Edmund Youkilis of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America, went yard to tie the game and begin an American scoring rally that would continue with a fireworks display from Brian McCann and Adam Dunn.
By the top of the ninth inning, Dunn sat in the dugout hyperventilating into his hat and pretending to check his pulse, eyes wide, as JJ Putz faced down Jason Bay. After a heart-stopping array of foul balls, Bay finally sent a can of corn into right field. 6-5 USA.
Calendar be damned. It had been an absolute barn-burner.
Youkilis also combined with your reigning AL MVP for a number of crisp plays on the right side of the infield. During the broadcast, ESPN's Victor Rojas and Joe Magrane made much of Pedroia's teammates' interviews on him prior to the game. They said it was Pedroia who'd sparked a defiant and intense spirit in the US team this time around.
You don't say.
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