Rangers win thriller in Texas, Canada advances to Pan Am Finals

It seemed, after Game 4, that this year’s World Series couldn’t get any better.

But then tonight’s Game 5 happened, and it centered on Mike Napoli — the catcher who everybody knows that the Jays acquired this offseason but shipped to Texas before he ever put on a Toronto uniform.

After Adrian Beltre tied the game on an epic, knee-down solo home run off Chris Carpenter, Napoli stepped into a two-out, runners on the corners situation. Just getting under a pitch, Napoli flew out again to center field to end the inning, narrowly missing out on a go-ahead three-run home run. Carpenter escaped the jam with the game still tied, and proceeded to shout expletives at Napoli as the inning ended.

The very next inning, Napoli threw out Allen Craig trying to steal before he clobbered the game’s decisive hit in the eighth, a two-run double to the gap in right center. Then, as Albert Pujols struck out swinging, Napoli fired a perfect throw to the right side of second base to retire Craig trying to steal again. Plus, after Lance Berkman swung well in front of the final pitch of the game, Napoli chased down the ball that had skipped away from him to record the final out of the game. Is it Wednesday yet? Game 6 is definitely going to be interesting.

There was, however, another interesting baseball game tonight, as Canada defeated Mexico 5-3 in the semi-final of the Pan American Games. They’ll now play the U.S. in tomorrow’s gold medal game, and there are some Blue Jays roots on the team worth mentioning.

Mississauga, Ontario’s Shawn Hill — yes the Shawn Hill that made four starts for the Jays last year — started the game for Canada, only to surrender a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. Canada stormed back in the top half of the second and scored two runs, so Mexico’s lead was cut to just one. That seemed to reinvigorate Hill, as he settled down to toss four shutout frames after that, one of which came after Canada took the lead with two more runs in the top of the fifth inning.

Canada added one more in the top of the sixth to take a two-run lead and thanks mainly to three scoreless innings of relief from Dustin Molleken and Chris Kissock, the Canadians can now do no worse than a silver medal.

Outside of Hill, another former Jays hurler, Scott Richmond, is on the squad. An amateur free agent signing with the Jays in 2007, Richmond has only appeared in one game and he allowed two earned runs on four hits with one walk and one home run.

As for position players, one of Canada’s regulars on this year’s Pan Am squad, Shawn Bowman, appeared in 106 games for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2010 before becoming part of the Braves’ minor league system this past season. He’s been swinging a hot bat for Canada, as he was 4-for-10 headed into tonight’s game and had another pair of hits against Mexico.

Canada also has a pair of Lansing Lugnuts on their roster, as Michael Crouse, the Jays’ 16th round pick in 2008, has been playing center field for them, and Marcus Knecht, the Jays’ 3rd round pick last year, is also on the Canadian roster though he has yet to appear in a game.

Good luck to Canada as they go for gold tomorrow night against the USA!

-JM

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Tags: Baseball Canada Mike Napoli Shawn Bowman Shawn Hill

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