Scott Kazmir pitches during a game against the Dominican Republic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 4, 2021 in Yokohama, Japan.
Until Wednesday, the last time Scott Kazmir started an elimination game was Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. But his five innings of shutout baseball in a win against the Dominican Republic showed there’s still some big game pitcher in the three-time All-Star.
Kazmir scattered five hits, walked just one and struck out five to get the win in Team USA’s 3-1 victory that kept their gold medal hopes alive. Triston Casas hit his third home run of the tournament in the first inning and Tyler Austin added an insurance run off his homer in the fifth. The U.S. will now move on to the semifinals where it will meet the loser of the other semifinal between South Korea and Japan.
While Austin and Casas kept powering the U.S. offense, upping their combined total to five home runs and 13 RBI in Tokyo, Wednesday’s win was all about the pitching. Kazmir worked out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning that included part of an up-and-down day for the U.S. defense. Patrick Kivlehan made the first of three U.S. errors on the day, but Casas also made a heads up play to cut down a runner at home plate before homering in the bottom of the inning.
Kazmir had little further trouble over his last four innings and gave way to the U.S. bullpen that had looked shaky in the second-round loss to Japan on Monday. The first man out of the pen was Brandon Dickson, who didn’t allow a hit but had to work around two more U.S. errors. Scott McGough, who blew the save against Japan, worked the eighth, shaking off a leadoff single to preserve the lead. Anthony Gose pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and now hasn’t allowed a run in 3.2 innings.
Former MLB All-Star reliever David Robertson came on to close and got two outs before surrendering the lone blemish, a solo right field bomb to Charlie Valerio. He then walked Jeison Guzman before striking out Yefri Perez to end the game.
The Dominican Republic will drop into the bronze-medal game, where Team USA could also end up should it lose its semifinal on Thursday. The U.S. won the bronze medal in the last edition of Olympic baseball in 2008.
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo2020 to view the medal table, results and competition schedule.