Chris Leroux got the start in game two for Canada today. In the bottom of the first inning, with Canada already up 4-0, he threw 27 pitches, sitting 92-93 MPH with his fastball, hitting 94 once. He struck out one, but gave up two singles and a run that scored due to an error on an infielder grounder. Leroux settled down in the second inning, retiring the side in order by picking up two strikeouts and a groundball to second base. He needed 13 pitches to get through the second, 11 were strikes and again he hit 94 MPH on the radar gun.
In the third inning, with 25 pitches left before he reached the WBC first round pitch limit, Leroux retired the lead-off hitter on six pitches, getting a soft fly to center field. It took Leroux six pitches to get the second out, inducing an infield pop up from Ramiro Pena. He then struck out former Pirates infielder Luis Cruz on five pitches, but Cruz reached first on a wild pitch. That brought up Adrian Gonzalez, who drew a walk. Facing his last batter, with just three pitches left, Leroux got Jorge Cantu to groundout to end the third inning. In the inning, 15 of his 24 pitches were off-speed pitches. He finished with one unearned run on two hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
Canada ended up winning 10-3, keeping their hopes alive to advance to the next round. Leroux had stated prior to the game that he was making just one start, even if Canada advanced to the second round.
Jason Grilli picked up a big save for Team Italy, during their upset win over Mexico on Thursday night. Italy scored two runs in the top of the ninth to take a 6-5 lead, bringing in Grilli to close it out. It wasn’t easy for him, he needed 34 pitches and got the final out in dramatic fashion. With the bases loaded and a 3-2 count, Grilli got a groundball from Jorge Cantu to finish it. With the win by Canada today, Italy advanced to the second round of the WBC.
Wandy Rodriguez was originally scheduled to go for the Dominican Republic today against Spain, but his start was pushed back to Sunday, so he could face the tougher Puerto Rico team. The Dominicans won today, pushing their record to 2-0, which advances them to the second round along with Puerto Rico. Tomorrow’s game will be determine which team has the better seeding in round two.
Jameson Taillon will be starting for Team Canada at 4 PM Sunday against Team USA in a very important game. The game is a must win for both teams, thanks to the USA win over Italy tonight. The winner of this game will advance to the second round along with Italy.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.