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Canada is off to an amazing begin in its Olympic baseball qualifier
Final evening, whereas a lot of the nation was glued to Recreation 7 of the Habs-Leafs sequence, Canada’s males’s baseball staff did one thing fairly spectacular. Three of its pitchers mixed for a no-hitter as Canada crushed Colombia 7-0 to open its regional Olympic qualifying match in Florida. Andrew Albers, who had a cup of espresso with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015 and now pitches for the Minnesota Twins’ triple-A affiliate, tossed the primary seven innings for Canada and did not permit a baserunner over his remaining six.
The WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, which runs by means of Saturday, will determine one of many two out there spots within the six-team baseball match on the Tokyo Olympics, the place the game is again on this system for the primary time since 2008. It is also Canada’s final likelihood to qualify for Tokyo.
This is the way it works: The eight groups competing in Florida are divided into two teams. Canada, ranked thirteenth on the planet, is with No. 7 Cuba, No. 8 Venezuela and No. 14 Colombia. The opposite group is the No. 2 United States, No. 10 Dominican Republic, No. 11 Puerto Rico and No. 15 Nicaragua. Everybody performs the opposite groups of their group as soon as, and the highest two finishers in every group advance to the “tremendous spherical,” which takes place Friday and Saturday. The super-round groups every play two extra video games — towards those who superior from the opposite group — and the outcome from their group-stage recreation towards the opposite staff carries over. The staff with the very best file after the tremendous spherical wins the match and the spot within the Olympics.
The groups ending second and third keep alive. They’re going to get one final likelihood to achieve the Olympics by way of the ultimate qualifying match in mid-June in Mexico (it was not too long ago moved from Taiwan because of pandemic-related issues). That five-team occasion may even embrace Taiwan, Australia and the Netherlands. The winner will get the final ticket to Tokyo, the place they will be a part of the winner of the Americas qualifier, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Israel within the Olympic match.
Baseball was a full-status Olympic sport from 1992 to 2008. Canada certified for 2 of these 5 tournaments, dropping the bronze-medal recreation to Japan in 2004 and failing to get previous the round-robin stage 4 years later. If Canada does not qualify for Tokyo, its subsequent likelihood will not come till at the least 2028. Native organizers have some say in what sports activities seem of their Olympics, and Paris (the 2024 host) opted to drop baseball. The 2028 Video games are in Los Angeles, a baseball hotbed, so there is a good likelihood the game returns to the Olympics then. In case you’re questioning about girls’s Olympic baseball, it does not exist. However a girls’s softball occasion has at all times mirrored the baseball competitors, and Canada has a staff within the Tokyo match. It is ranked third on the planet.
Canada’s staff for the Americas qualifier features a few names you would possibly acknowledge. The longtime supervisor is former Blue Jays catcher Ernie Whitt, whose assistants embrace ex-Jays pitcher Paul Quantrill and ex-Expos-and-Jays pitcher Denis Boucher. Along with Albers, the pitching workers options Scott Richmond, who made 29 begins for the Jays from 2008-09, and John Axford, who led the Nationwide League with 46 saves in 2011 for Milwaukee and performed for Toronto in 2018. Some guys you would possibly keep in mind on different groups embrace former Jays star Jose Bautista (Dominican), 2011 NL MVP runner-up Matt Kemp (United States) and longtime high quality beginning pitcher Anibal Sanchez (Venezuela). Learn extra in regards to the Canadian roster right here.
Canada’s subsequent recreation is tonight at 7 p.m. ET vs. Cuba. Its group-round finale is Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET vs. Venezuela. You’ll be able to watch each these contests, and each different recreation within the match, stay on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports activities app. This is the hyperlink.
Edmonton’s CFL staff has a brand new title. Elks replaces Eskimos, which was dropped final yr after Washington’s NFL staff made an analogous transfer in response to elevated strain on sports activities franchises to cease utilizing Indigenous names and iconography. Within the meantime, the CFL franchise was calling itself the Edmonton Soccer Staff. Learn extra in regards to the title change and see the brand new brand right here.
Just one Canadian is left within the French Open singles tournaments. Males’s No. 20 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime misplaced his first-round match immediately to Italian Andreas Seppi. Ladies’s No. 6 Bianca Andreescu suffered her personal first-round upset yesterday, and males’s No. 17 Milos Raonic withdrew earlier than the occasion began. The Canadian left standing is the one unseeded one, and the youngest: 18-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez. Ranked 69th on the planet, the previous French Open women’ champion destroyed 78th-ranked Anastasia Potapova 6-2, 6-1 within the first spherical. Fernandez’ subsequent opponent is American Madison Keys, who’s seeded twenty third. Regardless of that, Fernandez is the slight betting favorite for Wednesday’s match. Learn extra about immediately’s French Open outcomes right here.
Canada scraped into the playoffs on the males’s hockey world championship. Normally, the Canadian staff can depend on a bunch of stars to hitch after their NHL groups are eradicated from playoff rivalry. However the present mixture of well being issues and journey restrictions has left Canada with none big-name gamers for this yr’s match in Latvia (Connor Brown and Adam Henrique are the staff’s two main scorers). This led to Canada dropping 4 of its seven video games and almost lacking the playoffs for the primary time ever. However it backed into the quarter-finals after immediately’s 3-2 shootout loss to Finland to shut the group stage.
And at last…
The Leafs have not gained a playoff sequence because the Bush administration. W., however nonetheless, 2004 was a very long time in the past. Particularly when you think about that was the final post-season earlier than the NHL launched a wage cap. So, put one other manner, one of many NHL’s richest groups has been unable to earn a playoff sequence win because it might kind of purchase one. The majority of the blame for the newest failure — blowing a 3-1 sequence result in a far much less gifted Montreal staff after which no-showing Recreation 7 — is falling on Toronto’s two finest gamers. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner completed, respectively, seventh and fourth within the regular-season factors race and Matthews scored 41 targets in 52 video games to run away with the Rocket Richard Trophy. However Matthews discovered the online solely as soon as within the seven-game sequence vs. Montreal, and Marner has now gone 18 straight playoff video games with out a objective. Since getting into the league collectively 5 seasons in the past, Matthews and Marner are 0-5 in playoff sequence. Learn extra in regards to the Leafs’ collapse vs. the Canadiens and watch highlights (lowlights?) right here.
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