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U.S. stymies Canada 8-0 to advance to next round in World Baseball Classic

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Team United States will be joining Team Dominican Republic in advancing to the next round after soundly defeating Team Canada on Sunday night by an 8-0 margin. Canada has been eliminated with a 0-3 record.

The U.S. struck early against Canada starter Ryan Dempster. The club loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, then scored two when Eric Hosmer doubled to center field. After Paul Goldschmidt walked to load the bases, Andrew Albers relieved Dempster and gave up an inherited run on a Buster Posey ground out to boost the U.S. lead to 3-0.

In the second inning, the U.S. had runners on first and second with one out against Albers, who promptly served up a three-run home run to Nolan Arenado. Hosmer doubled again, this time to left, and came around to score on a one out single by Posey.

The U.S. was held scoreless in the third through sixth innings, but Posey came through again with a solo home run to left-center in the seventh off of Jim Henderson.

U.S. starter Danny Duffy pitched four outstanding innings, holding Canada to two hits and on walks with seven strikeouts on 63 pitches. Mychal Givens pitched a scoreless fifth. Tyler Clippard took over in the sixth and tossed a pair of scoreless frames. Jake McGee took over in the eighth and kept Canada off the board. Nate Jones pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the 9-0 victory for Team U.S.

The U.S. will start the next round on Wednesday in Pool F, held at Petco Park in San Diego. Their opponent will either be Venezuela, Mexico, or Italy, depending on Sunday night’s game between Venezuela and Mexico. A loss by Venezuela would put three teams at 1-2 in Pool D and force a tiebreaker game.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?