Team USA’s game against Canada on Monday night in the World Baseball Classic was critical for their chances of making it further in the competition after their heavy defeat to Mexico on Sunday. However, the Americans rose to the challenge with a dominant performance.
Team USA quickly took control of the game with its potent offense, scoring nine runs in the opening inning. Lance Lynn, the starting pitcher, and the rest of the team then maintained their lead, comfortably winning the game 12-1 in just seven innings, thanks to the mercy rule.
It’s worth noting that the mercy rule only applies to the first round of the WBC, with games ending early, if there is a 15-run lead after five innings or a 10-run lead after seven innings. Additionally, the tiebreaker is determined by runs allowed, so running up the score can be advantageous. Each run scored against an opponent can harm their tiebreaker position and potentially assist your team later on.
Needing an early lead to lift their spirits after the previous day’s challenging defeat to Mexico, team USA seemed to have a plan in mind. Although Canada’s starting pitcher, 19-year-old Mitch Bratt, is a highly regarded prospect with the Rangers, he struggled against the strong USA lineup. Bratt only managed to retire one of the seven batters he faced, and the bullpen didn’t fare any better.
It’s difficult to imagine facing a lineup like USA’s at the age of 19, and Bratt threw only nine strikes out of his 25 pitches. Canada essentially sacrificed him to the opposition, and the result was a comprehensive victory for the USA. It’s worth mentioning that Bratt is ranked as the No. 17 prospect in the Rangers’ system by MLB.com, with the assessment that he is “cerebral and extremely advanced for his age.” There will be better days for Bratt for sure, but this was undoubtedly a tough assignment for the young pitcher.
Sunday’s defeat was a chaotic affair for team USA on multiple fronts. They utilized eight different pitchers throughout the nine innings, with Brady Singer and Daniel Bard both receiving extended outings. Complicating matters further, some MLB teams have placed restrictions on their pitchers, preventing them from pitching on consecutive days. Consequently, USA manager Mark DeRosa faced a challenging pitching situation heading into Monday’s game.
However, the USA offense stepped up and secured an early lead, while veteran right-handed pitcher Lance Lynn delivered a strong performance, pitching deep into the game. In his five innings on the mound, Lynn allowed only one run (a solo homer) before hitting the WBC pitch limit of 65 pitches for the first round. Lynn impressively retired 15 of the 17 batters he faced, throwing 42 strikes out of his 65 pitches, which equates to a 65% strike rate. With the substantial lead, Lynn focused on attacking the strike zone and efficiently securing outs.
With a 2-1 record in pool play, Team USA holds its fate in its own hands, thanks in part to Great Britain’s unexpected victory over Colombia on Tuesday afternoon. A win over Colombia in Wednesday’s game would guarantee the Americans’ progression to the second round. The team has a break on Tuesday before returning to the field with Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Merrill Kelly set to start against Colombia.
Meanwhile, Canada is now 1-1 and has matches against Colombia and Mexico on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The team has never advanced out of pool play in previous competitions.