What went wrong with Canada at the World Baseball Classic?

{eot} Staff
3/10/2009 2:13:40 PM
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What went wrong for Team Canada at the 2009 World Baseball Classic?

Was it the missing pieces in the likes of Rich Harden, Jeff Francis, Ryan Dempster and Erik Bedard? Was manager Ernie Whitt's decision to start Vince Perkins over Scott Richmond against Italy that lead to their demise?

These and many more questions will be asked as the Canadians head back to spring training, trying to figure out where things went wrong.

''There's a lot of frustration,'' first baseman Justin Morneau said following Monday's loss. ''We came in expecting to take a step forward, and I feel like we took a little step back.''

The Canadian squad was eliminated from the tournament with a loss to an Italy club made up mostly of part-time players and a handful of big-leaguers, two days after dropping their opener against the United States.

''They just played a better game,'' catcher Russell Martin said of the Italians. ''If you play a seven-game series, things might change but its one game, that's what happens. You've got to win the game and we didn't.''

Monday's contest was supposed to be a cakewalk for Canada, leading Whitt to gamble on Perkins. The thinking was to save Richmond for the win-and-advance game against Venezuela.

In his effort, Perkins gave up three runs - two earned - on three hits and four walks in two-plus innings.

So let the second guessing begin.

''It was my decision, I'll take the heat for that,'' Whitt said of his choice of starters. ''I felt very comfortable that the pitchers we had lined up could hold Italy up.''

But they couldn't.

Italy scored one run in each of the first four innings to open up a 4-0 lead before Canada struck for two runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Italians put the game away for good with two runs in the seventh inning.

''You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't,'' Whitt said of which starter got the call ''and that's the beauty of this game. You think you make the right decisions and it comes back and hits you in the face.''

Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay, who had two hits and drove in both runs on Monday, shared his frustration in the loss.

''I'm disappointed, obviously, especially being here in Toronto, not that that made it any more relevant to win, but something with the hometown and whole nature of this tournament,'' Bay said. ''Coming here, I think we thought we had a legitimate shot to move on, and to have that ended abruptly, it's kind of a grim reality.''

So, what's your take on Canada's performance? In your opinion, what went wrong at the 2009 World Baseball Classic? Share your thoughts below on the Your Call feature.

Team Canada bench (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)


(Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)
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