No suspensions coming for Canada-Mexico WBC brawl

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According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, World Baseball Classic officials have decided that no players will be further disciplined for the benches-clearing brawl that broke out Saturday between Team Canada and Team Mexico. The fight brought seven ejections, but that’s as far as the punishment will go.

“We are extremely disappointed in the bench-clearing incident that marred the conclusion of today’s game between Canada and Mexico,” reads a written statement released early Sunday morning by World Baseball Classic, Inc. “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.”

It’s great news for Mexican third baseman Luis Cruz, who incited the entire fracas when he directed teammate Arnold Leon to plunk Canada’s Rene Tosoni after Chris Robinson’s successful ninth-inning bunt single. Cruz, who is expected to open the 2013 season as the Dodgers’ starting third baseman, also threw the first punch when the two teams rushed toward each other. A suspension that would bleed into regular-season MLB games seemed likely for him. But here we are.

Canada (1-1) plays Team USA (1-1) today at 4 p.m. ET in Arizona. The winner of that game will advance out of Pool D along with Team Italy (2-1). Mexico (1-2) has already been eliminated and has no games remaining.

Red Sox look to punch their ticket to the World Series tonight

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Thanks to some amazing defense, some big hits and — to continue to beat this horse, a bad call by Joe West — the Red Sox have a 3-1 lead in the ALCS and look to clinch the AL Pennant tonight down in Houston.

If you believe in momentum, you’d have to say it’s on Boston’s side. If you believe that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher, however, you’d have to say things favor Houston more than the standing of the series would suggest. All of which makes me wish Game 5 was starting right now, because it figures to be a tense and exciting affair.

ALCS Game 5

Red Sox vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: TBS
Pitchers: David Price vs. Justin Verlander
Breakdown:

If someone told you that you had to win one baseball game against the Martians to save the human race, you could do far worse than calling on Justin Verlander to be your starting pitcher. Among the pitchers still in the postseason, he’d almost certainly be your choice right now.

Does Verlander himself appreciate the situation? This is what he said about that yesterday:

“I mean, these are all must-win games at this point. Every time you take the mound I don’t think there’s any difference whether it’s 2-2 or 3-1.”

Look, we’re asking him to beat the Martians here, not win the National Math Bee, so let’s let that go. The point is that after all of these years he’s still one of the most dominant pitchers in the game and after the exhausting, see-saw battle of Game 4, he stands the best chance of giving Houston what it needs: a quick, quiet and drama-free win.

Not that the Red Sox are likely to roll over for that. They didn’t the first time they faced Verlander in this series. They Astros won, yes, and Verlander limited them to two runs on two hits. But he also issued four walks and wasn’t his sharpest overall. Boston didn’t capitalize on his mistakes as best they could, but he’s not invincible.

For Boston it’s David Price. He allowed four runs on five hits and four walks over four and two-thirds innings in Game 2, not factoring in the decision. That’s not great, but given the talk leading up to that game being all about how Price is a postseason flop, the fact that the Sox won it in the end had to bouy him at least a little. As does the fact that, here, tonight, it’s not 100% on his shoulders. Sure, the Sox want to close this out, but with a 3-1 lead there is less pressure on Price than on his former teammate Verlander. Worth noting, though: Price is on short rest and warmed up in the bullpen last night in case he was needed to bail out Craig Kimbrel. He may not go deep into this game.