Japan defeats the United States 2-0 to win the 1st Olympic baseball gold medal


Yokohama, Japan — Japanese players sprinted to the mound, and the All-Star collection lifted the manager up and down like a trampoline.

They glowed when they hung a shiny gold medal around each other’s neck and fulfilled their national mission with the first Olympic baseball title in their history.

American players didn’t seem overly upset. The liberated veterans, prospects, and career minor leaguers thought they did their best.

After Japan sought enough runs to win Saturday night’s gold medal game 2-0, pitcher Nick Martinez said, “I feel like we’ve left it all there.” ..

Japan’s youngest 21-year-old Munetaka Murakami hit a home run on the opposite field in 3rd place, 2–2 pitches from Martinez (1–1) over a 16-foot wall in the center left. Martinez winked when the ball landed in the fourth row of empty blue seats.

“We wanted him to have a great setup for the change-up there,” Martinez said. “It’s just the right blow.”

When Tetsuto Yamada preempted relief Scott McGough, Hayato Sakamoto was sacrificed, Masataka Yoshida became a single, and center-fielder Jack Lopez threw the ball over the plate due to a run score error, Japan Added earned run to 8 times.

23-year-old right-handed Masato Morishita (2–0) gave up 3 hits in 5 innings, shot 5 hits, and walked nothing.

Kodai Senga, Hiromi Itoh, Suguru Iwazaki, and Ryoji Kuribayashi scored six at bats, and the Japanese men (5-0) were on par with the results of the women’s softball team, surpassing the Americans in two consecutive victories.

Nick Martinez of the United States has seen Munetaka Murakami of Japan round the base after hitting a home run during the gold medal baseball game of the 2020 Summer Olympics held in Yokohama on August 7, 2021. (Jae C. Hong / AP Photo)

“They deserve to win,” said US manager Mike Scioscia, denying an attempt comparable to the feat of his mentor, the late Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, to win the US gold medal in 2000. Led to.

Former All-Star and batting champion Atsunori Inaba said the medals felt shiny and heavy. He relies on defense, bunting, and advancing runners in baseball by defeating the power-dependent American diversity in which samurai are increasingly dominated by three true achievements: home runs, strikeouts, and walks. I was proud to show off the brand.

Japan defeated the United States twice in six days, rallyed nine times on August 2, and won 7-6 in 10 innings.

“Our team actually played in a different situation than we would normally face in the United States during the normal season. All games were in Round 7,” said Scioscia. “We took a few breaks after winning the gold medal.”

Hundreds of people, who look like team staff and Olympic volunteers, cheered on the host country at Yokohama Stadium, which has a capacity of 34,000. On warm, humid nights, some wore orange Japan jerseys and matching masks.

The United States, which introduced baseball to Japan in 1872, ended in 4-2. The team was denied access to all 40 players and many qualified top prospects by Major League Baseball and its clubs, disrupting the United States and other countries with top stars in MLB.

At the request of the host country, Japan, baseball made its sixth appearance in the Olympic Games for the first time since 2008. It has already been dropped at the 2024 Paris Olympics, but could return to 2028 in Los Angeles and 2032 in Brisbane, Australia.

“Baseball is played in so many countries around the world and continues to grow,” says Scioscia. “And I think it’s an incredible oversight not to include baseball as a perennial sport in the Olympics.”

Frazier spoke next, and in making a claim to include baseball, he inadvertently pointed out who was missing: the best of the current generation.

“It’s excitement, emotion, and enthusiasm,” he said. “I focused on trying to be the little kids, the next Mike Trout or the next Jacob DeGrom.”

The Japanese team lacked MLB stars Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish, which was a field class in six countries.

American pitchers led the Olympics at 1.58 ERA to 2.28 in Japan, but American batters reached .236, well below Japan’s .287 and South Korea’s .302. The United States stuck nine runners in a gold medal game and became hitless with four at-bats with a scoring man.

Frazier scored .143 (21-3) with one RBI and was unable to add gold to the title of the Little League World Series, which won the 1998 Toms River East American in New Jersey.

Second baseman Eddy Alvarez has become the third American and sixth athlete overall to win medals at the Winter and Summer Olympics. He wanted gold, but with three RBIs, he was 6 to 24, consistent with the silver he won as a speed skater in 2014.

“It feels like déjà vu,” Alvarez said. “It’s as heavy as any other. It’s the same color, a little different design, but it’s still an incredible journey, an incredible experience.

“It’s a pill that’s hard to swallow when you’re approaching victory and running out, but at the same time, I’m finally attacking me about how incredibly blessed I am to participate. This is one of the things I know. “

Alvarez hit the ground-out at the end of the inning with 2 on in the 5th inning, Jamie Westbrook jumped out with 2 on in the 6th inning, and Alvarez stranded the runner when he grounded out in the 2nd inning in the 7th inning.

Kuribayashi gave up Nick Allen’s one-out single in the ninth inning, then retired Lopez with a force-out and put Alvarez on the deck.

“Oh man,” Alvarez said. “I really wanted it.”

Team Japan will celebrate after the gold medal baseball match against the United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Yokohama on August 7, 2021. (Jae C. Hong / AP photo)

Japan’s Masahiro Tanaka has defeated former New York Yankees teammates Frazier and Tyler Austin. Frazier asked the pitcher for a pin from the Japanese team.

“It feels a little weird,” Tanaka said through an interpreter.

After the first celebration, Japanese players lined up on third base and bowed to supporters and then to the American team.

Scioscia, standing in front of the first baseman’s dugout, responded by wearing a hat.

There is no sadness. Instead, praise.

“It was a great experience, man,” Frazier said. “I can’t say that enough.”

Ronald Bloom

Associated Press