Next up: the Dominican Republic, and then a chance at a medal.
The US Olympic baseball team carved through pool play, winning both games in Group B. New Twin, or Saint, as it may be Joe Ryan started the first game, against Israel. He held them to just one run on five hits, and five strikeouts. Ryan also did not walk a single hitter. Meanwhile, the run support was lead by former major-leaguers Tyler Austin with three RBIs on three hits, and Bubba Starling, with two RBIs. Journeyman middle-infielder Eddy Alvarez also knocked in two RBIs. The Americans won the game 8-1.
The second game for the American squad came against Korea, a day later. Boston prospect Triston Casas was the big bat in this one, knocking in two runs, along with another for Austin, and a RBI from shortstop Nick Allen. American starter Nick Martinez gave up one run, and closer David Robertson gave up a second, for a final score of 4-2, in favor of the USA.
That record secured the US team a seed as “B1” and earned them a first-round bye in the knockout portion of the games, before sending them to face Japan. In a ten-inning battle, the American team finally took a loss. Starter Shane Baz only worked 2.2 innings, and much of the US pitching staff saw action. Baz gave up two runs, on five hits and three walks. Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka started on the mound for Japan, and had a similarly rough outing. Tanaka, the former Yankee, was a coveted free agent this winter, before eventually deciding to return to his home country. He gave up three runs, on six hits and a walk, in only 3.2 innings. Both bullpens let runs trickle in, and the penultimate frame ended at a six-six tie, with Japan scoring in the bottom of the ninth to keep the game moving. That meant, of course,
MAnfredball real-by-gawd extra innings! In which, of course, Japan walked off team USA, for a 7-6 win.
And that should catch you up. The USA-Dominican Republic match will happen at 10pm central time tonight, and might be worth staying up for. We haven’t seen new Twins Simeon Woods-Richardson yet, and Joe Ryan should also be rested enough (having last pitched on July 30th,) to use if needed. After tonight, the Americans have one-or-two games left to play.
If they win tonight, they will face the loser of tomorrow’s Japan-Korea matchup, to determine who goes to the Gold Medal game. The loser of tonight’s match goes straight to the Bronze Medal game, and will face the loser of tomorrow’s game.
No matter what happens, then, the Americans have a chance to bring home some hardware. They have a slightly harder road to gold due to their loss to Japan, but could very well see a rematch, and a chance at redemption.