By Josh Chetwynd
REGENSBURG, GERMANY—Team Canada left no doubt that it deserved a return trip to the main draw of the World Baseball Classic, roughing up Germany 11-1 in the final of this World Baseball Classic qualifier.
Canada needed just eight innings to earn the victory as the game was called due to the 10-run mercy rule. The victory capped a remarkable three-game run for Canada, which outscored opponents 38-9 and slammed nine home runs.
The top four hitters in Canada's lineup came through for the third straight game. All four crossed the plate In the bottom of the first, with the key blow coming from two-hole hitter Chris Robinson (Orioles), who smacked a two-run home run to left field. The following inning, back-to-back doubles by No. 3 hitter Tim Smith (Braves) and cleanup hitter Jimmy Van Ostrand (Nationals), and a two-run home run from Adam Loewen (Mets) ran the score to 7-0 and left little hope for a Germany comeback.
Andrew Albers (Twins), whose past Team Canada heroics include a win in the gold medal contest at the 2011 Pan American Games, delivered a stellar performance against Germany. The lefthander worked both sides of the plate all evening, mixing in a high-80s fastball with a biting slider to dominate German hitters. Albers went six innings and allowed only one run on two hits. He walked three and struck out nine.
"We came here knowing that we had to win three games and we accomplished our goal," Canadian manager Ernie Whitt said. "I can't say enough about this team—they're gamers, they're guys that play hard with pride and passion.
"It makes my job easy as a manager and we're just happy that we're moving on."
The only damage Germany could muster was a solo home run from Aaron Altherr (Phillies) in the fifth inning.
For Canada, the result means a large group of Canadian major leaguers will be returning to the WBC. That list likely includes Justin Morneau, who contacted some members of Team Canada to wish encouragement in the run-up to this tournament, along with Joey Votto, Ryan Dempster, John Axford, Brett Lawrie and Russell Martin. Several members of the current squad will also be included in the final WBC roster, Whitt said.
One player who made an argument for inclusion was Van Ostrand, who went 7-for-13 with four home runs, 10 RBIs and nine runs. Other standouts included Robinson, who went 5-for-11; Tyson Gillies (Phillies) and Loewen each went 7-for-14.
The final result was a disappointment for host country Germany, as coach Greg Frady wound up making a choice that didn't work out at all. His starter, 27-year-old German league lefthander Andre Hughes, lasted just 1 1/3 innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on four hits and three walks. One bright spot on the mound was Will Ohman (White Sox), who threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings.