Adam Jones (10) of USA celebrates with Jimmy Rollins (11) after scoring… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)
PHOENIX — — Baseball fans and journalists have complained that many of the United States' top players don't represent their country in the World Baseball Classic.
Typical of the questions and comments: Why isn't Mike Trout playing center field instead of Adam Jones? And, was Eric Hosmer the best fill-in available when Mark Teixeira was sidelined because of an injury?
Good thing for the U.S. that Jones and Hosmer were in the lineup Sunday, though.
Jones crushed a go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth inning and Hosmer hit a bases-clearing double in the ninth as the U.S. defeated Canada, 9-4, to advance to the second round of games in the World Baseball Classic.
The U.S. and Italy each finished group play with 2-1 records, but the U.S. earned the No. 1 seeding because it defeated Italy, 6-2. The U.S. opens the next round in Miami on Tuesday against Puerto Rico.
The U.S. trailed, 3-2, and was five outs from elimination when Jones connected on a hanging slider from hard-throwing right-hander Jimmy Henderson, a Milwaukee Brewers reliever. Pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist and David Wright were running on the pitch — on their own, without direction from Manager Joe Torre — but Jones wasn't surprised or distracted.
"I've played with Willie before and he doesn't like to stay on the same base more than two, maybe three pitches," Jones said with a laugh.
Jones was barely batting .200 for the tournament before his big hit, but he said he wasn't feeling extra pressure.
"Any time you lose, people are going to say could have, should have, would have," he said. "The guys that are here wanted to be here, and that's all that matters. So who cares about the naysayers."
The hit gave the U.S. a 4-3 lead and Jones tacked another run when he scored one out later on a looping single by Shane Victorino.
Canada pulled to within a run in the bottom of the inning and would have done more damage if not for Brandon Phillips' glove work. With the bases loaded and one out, the second baseman laid out to snag a one-hopper by Adam Loewen that was headed toward right field, then scrambled to his knees and threw to first for an out. A run scored on the play, but Phillips saved at least one additional run.
Phillips also ignited the U.S.'s knockout, four-run ninth inning with a leadoff double. He scored on a one-out single by Jonathan Lucroy. Then, after a walk to Wright and a single by Ben Zobrist loaded the bases, Hosmer unloaded them with a blast to straight center field.