The United States beat the Dominican Republic 3-1 in their final game to stay in contention for the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
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YOKOHAMA, JAPAN (Kyodo News) — The Olympics are as familiar to Triston Casas as spring training.
That’s because he was facing Denyi Reyes, a Boston Red Sox Double-A teammate, when he took the mound in the United States’ elimination game against the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.
“I only had one career at-bat against him in spring training, and I blasted a home run over the batter’s eye as well,” Casas said after leading the Americans to a 3-1 victory with a two-run first-inning blast. “With a stroll, it’s 2-for-2.”
Tyler Austin, a former big leaguer who now plays for the Yokohama BayStars in the Central League, hit a solo home run in the fifth inning against Gabriel Arias to go along with a.412 average and five RBIs.
On Thursday night, the United States (3-1) takes on reigning champion South Korea (3-2) for a place in Saturday’s gold-medal game, with the loser playing the Dominicans for bronze. Japan (4-0) beat South Korea 5-2 to go to the championship game. On Thursday, Minnesota Twins prospect Joe Ryan will start for the United States.
In the first inning, Scott Kazmir (1-0) got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam. Around Jose Bautista’s leadoff double in the third, the 37-year-old left-hander threw five shutout innings, retiring 14 of his last 15 hitters.
“I still felt like I had a lot left in me,” Kazmir remarked.
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Casas, a 21-year-old first baseman from Portland, Maine, homered to Austin after a one-out walk. Casas, who was the 26th overall selection in the 2018 amateur draft and is hitting.271 with six home runs and 30 RBIs for the Sea Dogs this season, is batting.313 with eight RBIs.
“I wouldn’t say it’s better,” he said of the Olympics, “but the atmosphere makes it better.” “I think it puts a lot of pressure on both sides of the ball, on defense and attack, to remain involved in every pitch and simply try to win.” In affiliated ball, it’s possible to break out from that mentality.
“”At the conclusion of the tournament, nobody will remember how many home runs I hit or how many runs I drove in,” he said. It’s simply a question of whether we got the gold.”
In four innings, Reyes (0-1), a 24-year-old right-hander, surrendered two runs and two hits. In two starts and 11 relief appearances with Portland, he is 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA.
“We spoke about it, and we essentially said, ‘May the best guy prevail,’” Reyes said of his discussion with Casas.
Kazmir has not thrown in the big leagues since 2016, when he made two starts and a relief appearance for San Francisco in late May and June. He’s hoping that his agent, Brian Peters, can secure him a contract for the end of the season or in 2022.
Kazmir said, “I have two young sons.” “I don’t want them to simply watch a movie or anything like that; I want them to see me play. That, I believe, is a big motivator for me.”
Because he was sent outright to Triple-A Sacramento on June 11, Kazmir was eligible for the Olympics.
“He was crushed under a boulder. I believe he was sent to us just as we were getting ready to make some choices about how to put our team together “Mike Scioscia, the United States manager, said. “There’s no question he has the ability to pitch in the big leagues and be very successful, and I’m certain that will happen at some time.”
On a broiling day with a 90-degree Fahrenheit temperature at game time and heavy humidity, Kazmir began on 16 days’ rest. He tossed 77 pitches, struck out five batters, and walked one batter with a fastball in the 91-mph area and a cutter he’s developed.
The Dominicans (2-3) loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, 14 hours after their ninth-inning comeback victory against Israel. Melky Cabrera, who was 3-for-10 against Kazmir in his major league career, was brought up after Johan Mieses grounded into a forceout at the plate. Cabrera’s grounder bounced to Todd Frazier, who stepped on third to end the inning.
“For the most part, his swing remains the same,” Kazmir remarked.
After that, Brandon Dickson, Scott McGough, and Anthony Gose each pitched an inning.
David Robertson gave up a two-out homer and a walk before striking out Yefri Perez with the bases loaded for his second save. The Americans were outhit 5-3, but they overcame three mistakes and a 0-for-12 day from their Nos. 6-9 hitters.
In the seventh inning, Bautista came up with two on and two outs against McGough, a 31-year-old former Miami Marlins reliever who had blown a save the night before against Japan. The six-time All-Star, now 40, was ruled out by plate umpire Jair Fernandez of Mexico after taking consecutive sliders.
“He made some nice quality pitches down in the zone, and he got the calls that he needed,” Bautista said.
SOUTH KOREA 2, JAPAN 5
In the eighth inning, Tetsuto Yamada, the Central League MVP in 2015, blasted a tiebreaking three-run double off the top of the 16-foot wall in left-center.
With a runner on base, Kensuke Kondoh grounded a one-out grounder to first baseman Oh Jae-il, who threw to second. Go Woo-suk (0-1) was almost out of the inning. Go received the return throw from shortstop Oh Ji-hwan but couldn’t get his foot on first base to complete a double play, which was confirmed by video review.
The analysis concluded that Go did not have his foot on the base before Kondoh, according to South Korea manager Kim Kyung-moon. While South Korea believed Kondoh turned toward second and was tagged, the manager claimed the umpires did not take it into account.
Yamada hit a first-pitch, belt-high fastball for his second double of the game, giving him seven RBIs in the Olympics, after a wild pitch, an intentional walk to Munetaka Murakami, and a walk to Takuya Kai.
Hiromi Itoh (1-0) pitched two shutout innings, while Ryoji Kuribayashi earned his second save with a hitless ninth inning.
Hayato Sakamoto, the 2019 Central League MVP, hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning for his fourth RBI of the tournament, and Masataka Yoshida, the reigning Pacific League batting champion, added an RBI single in the fifth to make it 2-0.
Kang Baek-ho hit an RBI single in the sixth inning off Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a 22-year-old right-hander who had thrown 11 shutout innings in the Olympics. Kim Hyun Soo, a former Orioles and Phillies outfielder, knocked in the game-winning run against Suguru Iwazaki.
In five innings, South Korean pitcher Ko Young-pyo allowed two runs and six hits.
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