Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tour 2009: WBC Pool C, Games 4 & 5

All photos of days 3 & 4 in Toronto available on Flickr.

On Monday, we enjoyed another late start to the day. Much like Milwaukee, there seems to be not a lot to do on during the winter here in Toronto except go to the bar and attend sporting events. But, we decided to make the most of our time by researching some burger joints and breweries we could visit during the week. And so, our first stop of the day on Monday was a half-hour walk east through the villages of Corktown and Riverside to a place we saw online called Dangerous Dan's, which supposedly had the best burger in the city. Unfortunately, it was closed on Mondays, but it was still a nice walk on a sunny day. We then moved back west to Mill St Brewery, in an area of the city called the Distillery District. Mill St has been voted the best brewpub in the city the last two years and we were excited to tour it, but we were again shot down - only weekend tours. At this point we had been walking for about an hour, so we decided to stay and have lunch anyways, and between the two of us we sampled almost every beer they had. The structure itself was very cool; the area reminded me of the Strip District in Pittsburgh a little bit, all of the bulidings are old distilleries and breweries, and Mill St itself is housed in the building of a former brewery. We also met a cool guy there from Chicago, Mike, who was in town for the WBC as well. He seemed to be just as into baseball as we were and it was fun talking with him - he was even going to fly to Miami after Toronto and go to the next round. We exchanged numbers and agreed to meet up later. But for now, it was nearing gametime, and so we stumbled out the brewery and headed to the ballpark.

Todays ballgame was an elimination game between Italy and Canada, both losers from their first games. The crowd was about the same as Sunday night's game, with most of the sparse crowd being Canadians, obviously. Italy came out of the gates strong, tallying single runs in each of the first four frames, and blanked Canada in the first three before the starting pitcher Serafini ran into trouble in the 4th. Canada seemed to look past this game and were flat all game, with a lot of poor at-bats and lazy plays on defense. There was a play in the 4th where an Italian player hustled from 1st to 2nd on a routine groundball to short and beat the throw to 2nd, and it was plays like that made me think Italy would pull it out - and they did, 6-2. Justin Morneau and Jason Bay were the stars for Canada with 6 of the team's 7 hits and both of their RBI. Chris Denorfia was 4-4 with 3 doubles and 2 RBI for Team Italia, and also made a spectacular diving catch in center field. Jason Grilli faired much better than in the Venezuela game and got the 3.1 inning save. After the game, we met up with Mike at Wayne Gretzky's bar and watched Mexico pound South Africa.

Tuesday was attempt #2 at finding a burger joint, and this time we were successful. The place is called Craft Burger and was only a few blocks northwest of the ballpark. It was just a little hole-in-the-wall 10-seat kind of place that just served great handmade burgers. The onion rings and fries were some of the best I've ever had, and although we thought the burgers were a little overcooked, overall a place I'd recommend to any wayward travelers. After burgers we thought about catching the ferry to Toronto Island, but we decided that that was probably like taking the ferry to Washington Island in Door County in March - probably pretty boring. Instead, we just walked around the lake some more. Along the way we found a place called the Beer Store that's pretty much the national liquor store chain of Ontario, and a lakefront walkway called the Spadina Wavedeck that was pretty crazy. We ended our walk with a stop at the Loose Moose on Front St. for a pint, and then it was off to the next game.

This day's game was an early 5 PM first pitch, another elimination between Italy and Venezuela. The crowd was even smaller today, but it was okay because this allowed us a greater chance of getting a ball during BP. Things looked grim at first because Italia does not have any power, but one of the Venezuelan coaches threw us each an offical WBC ball, and we were very pleased. As for game action, Italy's Monday night magic seemed to run out as they got dominated 10-1 by Venezuela. Things were at a stalemate the first three innings, but then for some reason Italy went to its bullpen in the 4th despite their starter giving up only one hit. This was when the wheels fell off for Italia, as Venezuela got 4 runs in the 4th and hit 4 homeruns in the 5th. Bobby Abreu, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Lopez, and Ramon Hernandez all went deep for Team Venezuela, and Magglio Ordonez finally ended his 0-for-tournament streak with a couple hits. No one really stood out for Italia, as they ran through 8 pitchers and there were a lot of player substitutions, but Brewers' catcher Vinny Rottino did get a hit in his final at bat.

Today is the Pool C championship, and we have another Pete & Erik tour staple to cross off - find the local Hooters.

game stats:
starters - (4) Doug Serafini (ITA) v. Vince Perkins (CAN); (5) Adam Ottavino (ITA) v. Enrique Gonzalez (VEN)
opponent - (4) Italy v. Canada, (5) Italy v. Venezuela
time of game - 3:36 ; 3:04
attendance - 12411, 10450
score - 6-2 ITA, 10-1 VEN
Brewers score that day - 8-6 L

Game 6: 3/11 @ 630, USA v. Venezuela

Erik - 5
Peter - 5

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