USA can't stop Japan in extras at Olympics 

August 2nd, 2021

Japan scored the game-tying run in the ninth and the winning run in the 10th to walk off in a 7-6 thriller over Team USA on Monday in the quarterfinals of the Olympic baseball tournament.

Takuya Kai’s single off the wall brought home Seiya Suzuki to propel the Olympic hosts into the semifinals. Japan will play Korea on Wednesday while the USA will face elimination that day against the winner of Tuesday’s game between Israel and the Dominican Republic.

The Americans fought back from a couple of early deficits to take a 6-3 lead in the fifth when Triston Casas, the Red Sox’s No. 1 prospect, blasted a three-run shot to left-center field. Both of Casas’ home runs in these Olympics have given Team USA the lead.

Japan put up two runs in the fifth to make it a 6-5 game. One of those runs came on a solo homer from Suzuki which nearly landed outside of Yokohama Stadium.

The Team USA bullpen made that small advantage stand up for a while as Ryder Ryan, Anthony Gose and David Robertson combined to throw 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Former Marlins pitcher Scott McGough was brought in to close the game out, but a one-out walk, a single from Hideto Asamura and an RBI groundout by Yuki Yanagita scored Suzuki to push the contest into extras.

Baserunners are placed on first and second base to begin each extra inning in the Olympics, but the Americans couldn’t take advantage. They were able to get lead runner Tyler Austin over to third with two outs, but Mark Kolozsvary flew out to strand both runners.

Reliever Edwin Jackson threw two pitches for Team USA in the bottom of the 10th. The first resulted in a sacrifice bunt by Ryoya Kurihara. The second was squared up by Kai.

The game’s marquee starting pitching matchup between longtime Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka and the Rays’ No. 5 prospect, Shane Baz, didn’t live up to the billing as neither made it through the fourth inning. Japan knocked Baz out of the game in the third after stringing together three hits and a couple of walks, all with two outs, leading to two runs. Baz allowed five hits and three walks in his 2 2/3 innings of work.

However, the USA quickly dug itself out of that 2-0 hole with three runs in the top of the fourth. That frame included an RBI double from Tanaka’s former Yankees teammate Todd Frazier and a tie-breaking double from No. 3 A’s prospect Nick Allen to end Tanaka’s night. The two-time MLB All-Star gave up six hits and struck out six.

The United States and Japan have now met 26 times at major international tournaments, including eight times in the Olympics. Both series are tied up at 13-13 and 4-4, respectively.