Japan stuns Team USA in Olympic matchup littered with ex-Yankees

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Monday’s Olympic baseball matchup between the United States and Japan offered a distinctly New York flavor, featuring a slew of ex-Yankees including Todd Frazier, Tyler Austin, David Robertson and Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka. Frazier, who appeared in 13 games for Pittsburgh earlier this year, got the scoring started for Team USA in the fourth inning, plating top Red Sox prospect Triston Casas on a double to left field.

Tanaka, who shared a locker room with Frazier when the two were Yankees teammates in 2017, labored through a shaky outing for Japan, permitting three runs on six hits in a no-decision. The Americans survived an eighth-inning threat (Tetsudo Yamada advanced to third on a throwing error after a successful stolen base), holding tight to a 6-5 lead preserved by former White Sox and Yankees hurler David Robertson, who ended the frame with a clutch strikeout of Japanese shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.

Unfortunately, the ninth wasn’t as kind to the United States with Japan forcing extra innings on an infield chopper that would go in the books as an RBI groundout. Journeyman Edwin Jackson, who played for a record 14 teams across his 17 MLB seasons, was tasked with pitching the 10th, ultimately surrendering the go-ahead run on Takua Kai’s walk-off single to right field.

Other notable participants Monday included former Blue Jays and Tigers farmhand Anthony Gose, who logged a scoreless inning in relief of starter Shane Baz, and Yankees alum Tyler Austin (arguably best known for his dustup with then-Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly), who contributed two hits in the losing effort. A second-round pick of the Phillies in 2008, Gose reached the big leagues as an outfielder before transitioning to pitcher in 2017. He’s currently in the Indians’ system, holding a 5.68 ERA across 19 innings for Triple-A Columbus this year.

After suffering their first loss of the tournament, Team USA will look to rebound against the winner of Tuesday’s game between Israel and the Dominican Republic. The United States is seeking its first Olympic medal in baseball since 2008, when Stephen Strasburg and eventual Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta led the U.S. to bronze in Beijing. Baseball was not contested at the London (2012) or Rio (2016) Olympics.

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