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Mexico motivated to go all the way after defeating Canada and advancing to WBC quarterfinals

Mexico manager Benjamin Gil, middle, and others celebrate the team's 10-3 victory over Canada in a World Baseball Classic game in Phoenix, Wednesday, March 15, 2023. Mexico advanced to the quarterfinals. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Mexico manager Benjamin Gil, middle, and others celebrate the team’s 10-3 victory over Canada in a World Baseball Classic game in Phoenix on Wednesday. Mexico advanced to the quarterfinals. (Godofredo A. Vásquez / Associated Press)

When the World Baseball Classic began last week, Pool C was viewed as the United States and everybody else. Team USA, the defending champion, was the overwhelming favorite for good reason. The group of position players is unmatched. The pitching staff is one of the tournament’s best.

But Mexico stunned the U.S. on Sunday to rebound from a group-opening loss against Colombia. And on Wednesday, the Mexicans completed their turnaround, thrashing Canada 10-3 to win the pool and advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time ever. Mexico will play Puerto Rico on Friday in Miami.

Puerto Rico advanced by eliminating the Dominican Republic, one of the tournament favorites, with a 5-2 win. The victory was soured, however, when All-Star closer Edwin Díaz was taken off the field in a wheelchair after injuring his right knee in celebration. The New York Mets, Díaz’s parent club, said he will be undergo testing Thursday.

Team USA later joined Mexico in the quarterfinals out of the pool, beating Colombia 3-2 to advance. Mike Trout led the way, going three for four with a triple and three RBI. The U.S., like Mexico, finished group play 3-1, but lost the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Americans will play Venezuela, the Group D winner, Saturday.

That Mexico lost to Colombia and won the other three games in pool play highlights the team’s depth. The first game was the one they were supposed to win. Why? Because Julio Urías, the country’s brightest star, got the start with the hopes that he’d pitch in the quarterfinals.

“We are very happy with what we have accomplished so far, but I’m not done yet,” Mexico manager Benji Gil said. “ I’m not satisfied yet. We did the first step.”

Gil confirmed the plan is still for the Dodgers’ left-hander to start in Miami — with a caveat.

“We have to clarify a little bit with the Dodgers, but, definitely, Julio will go,” Gil said in Spanish. “I don’t want to give incorrect information. But there will be a conversation with the Dodgers. Just to clarify and be synchronized with exactly how many pitches they’re comfortable with him throwing.”

Urías threw 62 pitches over five innings against Colombia last Saturday. Gil said he could see Urías taking on a…

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