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World Baseball Classic: Canada v United States Preview: Neighbours go toe-to-toe

The fifth edition of the World Baseball Classic is well underway with Pool C games having started with the likes of USA, Great Britain and Mexico having begun their campaigns.

Here we look at a neighbourly rivalry as Canada play United States at Chase Field, Phoenix.

WhatCanada v United States
WhereChase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
When02:00, Tuesday 14th March
How to watchBT Sport2
OddsOutright: Japan 2/1, USA 11/4, Dominican Republic 4/1, Venezuela 9/2, Mexico 10/1

Work to do for hosts

If the United States thought that qualification to the next round was going to be easy following their comfortable 6-2 win over Great Britain in their opening Pool C fixture, then their confidence took a shot across the bows with an 11-5 loss to Mexico in their following game. 

While the USA are likely to qualify for the quarter-finals, losing to Mexico makes the star-studded American roster almost human.

All week the rhetoric from the home camp has been how confident they are and how they can’t believe how the roster has been put together with so many All-Stars in the line-up.

Mexico shocked them and now they are going to have to work harder to retain the World Baseball Classic title.

USA used just eight pitchers which critics have questioned, as team manager Mark DeRosa explained that he is trying to protect players' health as much as trying to get 27 out.

Pitchers are restricted to 65 pitches thrown in Pool play and DeRosa was put in a spot trying to juggle the situation.

Speaking to, he said: "Obviously, I want nothing more than for these guys to repeat as champions and hold up a trophy. But I’m not going to anything to jeopardise these guys’ big league careers. I’m just not."

Wins over Canada and Colombia will likely see USA through to the quarter-finals, but they will want to beat the two sides convincingly and avoid a tiebreaker scenario, where it comes down to runs allowed per defensive out recorded, as it was in Pool A, where every side had a 2-2 record.

Cuba and Italy qualified as they had conceded the fewest runs per recorded outs, so the USA want to be defensively sound over the next two games, just in case.

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Oh Canada

While USA will be favourites for this game, you cannot rule out the Canadians in a one-off match-up and these two sides have met in every group stage of the World Baseball Classic to date.

Canada pulled off their most historic win, by defeating USA in the inaugural classic in 2006, but since then the States has won the three most recent matches.

Canada also defeated Great Britain in their opening fixture of Pool C, and won convincingly by order of the Mercy Rule, winning 18-8 after seven innings, (The Mercy Rule being called as Canada led by 10 runs after seven innings pitched).

This was a record amount of runs scored in a World Baseball Classic (26) and Canada equalled the amount of runs scored by one team in the WBC (18) with Japan in 2006.

Speaking to following their win over GB, team manager Ernie Whitt said: "I’d like to score 18 every game we play, that would make it a little bit easier.

"Great Britain, they just kept battling, battling back, We had great at-bats, we grinded out our at-bats, we took our walks and we capitilised on some of their mistakes."

Canada’s key player was Tyler O’Neill. After going 1-for-11 during pool play in 2017, O’Neill wasted no time in erasing that from his memory in the team’s win on Sunday.

The centre-fielder went 4-for-4 and hit four runs, including a bases-clearing double that sent Canada well on its way to a Mercy-Rule win.

Depending on Colombia’s result against Great Britain, a win for Canada would put them in pole position to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Reaching the last eight for the Canadians would be a huge achievement for a side with such learned baseball history and who have never reached the last-eight before.

They know they will have to be at their best to beat the USA. O’Neill will need to bring his bat, as will superstar first baseman, Freddie Freeman, who went 2-5 with one RBI and one walk in his opening game.

Canada will have Mitch Bratt, a 19-year-old Southpaw, on the mound, while USA will have veteran Lance Lynn throwing.

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