By Sports Reporter Sunil Sunder Raj for The Every Day Fan Sports
Posting a pair of wins in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the USA Baseball team was riding a wave of momentum. However, those good vibes came crashing down in a brutal 7-6 loss to Japan in extra innings on Tuesday night at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.
Team USA was only three outs away from their third straight win, but Japan rallied to tie the game up in the ninth inning and eventually won it in the tenth inning. They were facing a Dominican Republic squad coming off a hard-fought 7-6 victory over Israel.
Playing for the first time in the afternoon, Team USA encountered trouble in the first inning. The Dominican Republic loaded up the bases with one out. Getting the starting nod, Scott Kazmir managing to avoid damage by retiring the final two hitters.
In the bottom half of the frame, designated hitter Tyler Austin drew a one-out walk. Already having knocked two balls out of the park in the tournament, first baseman Triston Casas went yard for the third time in the tournament, this time against starting pitcher Denyi Reyes, uncorking a colossal two-run blast that went deep over the centerfield wall.
Once the third inning rolled around, the Dominican Republic had another prime scoring chance. Left-fielder Jose Bautista led off with a double down the left-field line. Scott Kazmir recovered to set the down the side in order, including two strikeouts. From that point on, Kazmir locked in the zone retiring nine in a row.
Team USA utilized the long ball again in the bottom of the fifth inning. Facing a new pitcher in Gabriel Arias, Tyler Austin bashed a solo missile that pretty much ended up in the same spot as the home run hit by Triston Casas in the first inning to dead centerfield.
With Kazmir departing after five innings on the mound, Manager Mike Scioscia called on right-hander Brandon Dickson to pitch. Dickson ran into issues right off the bat, with the first two runners reaching base. The Team USA defense bailed out Dickson with shortstop Nick Allen turning a nifty unassisted double play on a ground ball hit by Juan Francisco.
Scott McGough took over the pitching duties for Team USA in the seventh inning. The Dominican Republic with another opportunity to score their first run of the game with runners on first and second two outs. Facing a dangerous hitter in Jose Bautista, McGough won the showdown whiffing Bautista.
Mike Scioscia handed the ball off to left-hander Anthony Gose in the eighth inning. Gose tossed a perfect inning by retiring the side in order. In the ninth inning, Scioscia tasked David Robertson to close the game out.
Registering the first two outs, it appeared the game was in the books. Squaring off against catcher Charlie Valerio, Robertson threw a pitch right down the wheelhouse that Valerio turned on and sent deep into the right-field seats breaking up a shutout bid attempt.
Rattled after yielding a round-tripper, Robertson ended up walking shortstop Jeison Guzman. With the tying run at the plate in Yefri Perez, Robertson initially fell behind in the count but bounced back to fan Perez to end the game.
Next up for Team USA is a semifinal matchup vs. Korea on August 5th at Yokohama Baseball, with the first pitch set for 6:00 a.m. EST and 7:00 p.m. Japan time. Back on July 31st, Team USA defeated Korea 4-2.