Former University of Illinois catcher Chris Robinson inadvertently triggered a benches-clearing brawl in the ninth inning of Canada's 10-3 victory that eliminated Mexico from the World Baseball Classic.
With the possibility of Canada, the United States and Italy potentially all ending up 1-2 in the Pool D round-robin, Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt's team was mindful that run differential breaks tie. Even though it had a 9-3 lead in the ninth inning, Robinson led off with a bunt single. The Mexican pitcher, Arnold Leon, plunked the next hitter, Rene Tosoni, and things turned wild after he started walking toward the mound.
The ugly brawl led to seven ejections, but WBC officials said in a statement that no fines or suspensions would be issued.
"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," the statement read. "Thus, discipline will not be imposed beyond today's seven game ejections."
The primary issue in play was the WBC's tie-breaker format -- run differential -- and Whitt says it should be changed.
"There's got to be another method other than scoring runs, running up the score on an opponent," Whitt said after the 10-3 win. "Nobody likes that."
Canadians Tosoni, shortstop Pete Orr and relief pitcher Jay Johnson were ejected, along with Team Mexico members Leon, Alfredo Aceves, Oliver Perez and Eduardo Arredondo.
Whitt almost pulled the Canadian team off the field after fans started throwing objects. He said coach Denis Boucher was hit in the head with a bottle and that another object just missed coach Larry Walker.
"We want to play the game hard," Robinson said. "We play it properly. You get an opportunity to help a team, help your teammates (in any way), that's something to do. That's the way that we play as a whole. That's the way I've always played."
Like Whitt, Mexico manager Rick Renteria blamed the situation on the unusual format, which could penalize a team for following normal baseball etiquette.
Said Renteria: "The tournament, it has different rules ... In a normal setting, a normal professional setting, I should say, a 9-3 bunt in that particular situation would be kind of out of the ordinary. But based on the rules that have been established in this tournament, the run differentials and things of that nature ... those things may occur. It was just a misunderstanding."
Justin Morneau and Michael Saunders each had four hits and three RBI. Taylor Green went 3-for-5 and scored three times for Canada, who recorded 15 hits in the game. Starting pitcher Chris Leroux (1-0) allowed one unearned run on two hits over three innings.
Mexico's starting pitcher Marco Estrada (0-1) was battered, giving up four runs off seven hits over three innings.
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