3/10/2013 1:51 A.M. ET
USA, Canada meet in win-or-go-home finale
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The United States and Canada started their journeys in this year's World Baseball Classic with crushing defeats, and the second round in Miami had to seem far away.
It's a lot closer now. In fact, all it takes is one win. But to get that victory, the teams will have to face off against each other.
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With Italy already qualified and ready to take its talents to South Beach to get ready for the second round, the first round of Pool D will come down to Sunday afternoon's game.
So who'll it be? The Stars and Stripes or the Maple Leaf?
A sure-to-be-fired-up crowd at Chase Field and on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes will find out, starting with the first pitch at 4 p.m. ET. Texas Rangers left-hander Derek Holland will take the ball for the U.S. against Canada's starter, right-hander Jameson Taillon, a 21-year-old top prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
"We want to go to Miami," Team USA second baseman Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds said. "We really want to play for the country. That's what it's all about. So hopefully, we can go out there and just play the game that we did [Saturday], and then we'll be going to Miami."
The Americans know they're in for a battle. They saw a tough, single-minded Canada team effectively knock Mexico out of the tournament on Saturday, and they also saw the ninth-inning benches-clearing incident that erupted between the Canadians and Mexicans.
Team USA manager Joe Torre was asked if he expected the fight to affect the way Canada would come into the winner-take-all matchup on Sunday, and he shook his head.
"Well, they have the same thing at stake that we do, fight or no fight," Torre said. "You don't need to get motivated to win a Game 7. And that's what, basically, this is tomorrow."
Canada skipper Ernie Whitt echoed those sentiments. He was already looking forward to Sunday's game after the end of Saturday's controversial affair.
"We have accomplished one step of that right now, and we have got one more step to go," Whitt said. "It's going to be a tough task, but we know what we have to do and we'll be ready."
Minnesota slugger Justin Morneau, who had four hits on Saturday for Canada, said his club wouldn't carry over negativity from one day to the next.
"We didn't bring yesterday's game into today's game, and we won't bring today's game into tomorrow's game," Morneau said Saturday. "We'll start over again, and hopefully it's a good, clean game, but you never know what's going to happen."
Phillips said he hopes what happens looks a lot like what happened for Team USA on Saturday.
"It's a good feeling just knowing that we have a chance to really go to Miami," Phillips said.
"It feels good. Just the way we played today, it was beautiful. Hopefully, we can take that into the game tomorrow and try to get a win, because we really want this bad."
United States: Bullpen well-rested
The Americans got a break Saturday when Nationals starter Ross Detwiler spared the club's bullpen by finishing off the game with four scoreless innings, setting up Torre's relief corps well for Sunday.
"That was our plan," Torre said. "We were going to use Detwiler to piggyback, and I love the way he pitched. It would have been nice if he had about another eight or nine more pitches, because again, our goal is to make sure these guys get the work they need so when we do return them to their clubs, that they're at the part of Spring Training they need to be. But he was great. But this was our plan and we were hoping for this result, obviously."
Canada: Taillon ready for task
Taillon was the second overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. The 6-foot-6 right-hander was 9-8 with a 3.55 ERA in stints at Class A and Double-A last year and is ranked as the 15th-best overall prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.
"I'm excited to be here," Taillon said. "I'm really excited that I got such a great opportunity on such a big stage. I'm really looking forward to it. Going into it, [I've] just got an attitude that we got nothing to lose, go out there, give it everything and it's in our hands now. We've got to do what we can do."
Although three Canadian players -- Pete Orr, Rene Tosoni and Jay Johnson -- were ejected from Saturday's game, none have been suspended from the Classic. Mexico, which had four players thrown out of the game, was eliminated when the United States beat Italy.
Late Saturday night, World Baseball Classic, Inc., issued the following statement about the fight: "We are extremely disappointed in the bench-clearing incident that marred the conclusion of today's game between Canada and Mexico. The episode runs counter to the spirit of sportsmanship and respectful competition for which the World Baseball Classic has stood throughout its history.
"After communicating with both the Mexican and Canadian baseball federations this evening, we are aware of the perspectives held by both sides in a competitive environment. Nevertheless, we relayed to both teams that such an altercation is inappropriate under any circumstances and has no place in baseball.
"Because at least one club -- and potentially both -- will not advance to the second round, WBCI has determined that disciplinary measures would not have a meaningful corrective impact. Thus, discipline will not be imposed beyond today's seven game ejections. It is our firm expectation that the members of Team Mexico, Team Canada and all the tournament's participating teams will learn from this incident and set a better example -- one that befits the sport they share -- in the future."