Silver medalists Team USA pose for photographs following the gold medal game at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 07, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.
In the lowest-scoring gold-medal game in Olympic baseball history, every mistake was magnified. The United States didn’t make many, but Japan made fewer of them to win 2-0 and take the gold medal Saturday night at Yokohama Stadium.
U.S. starter Nick Martinez allowed a home run in the third to Munetaka Murakami and Japan scored an insurance run on an error in the eighth. That was all the offense in a well-pitched game that saw both starters go five or more innings. The gold medal is the first one in Olympic play for Japan, and the hosts become the first team to win the Olympic baseball tournament on home soil. This is the first silver medal for Team USA at the Games and its fourth medal overall.
“When assessing what happened this week and how these guys played, I have nothing but positives to throw on all these guys the way they handled themselves,” said U.S. manager Mike Scioscia, “the way they practiced hard, they played the game hard, and we got within a couple breaks of winning the gold medal. But they worked very, very hard and were rewarded with the silver medal and I think they represented the United States very well.”
The starting pitching matchup featured two of the best starters in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league. Martinez, formerly of MLB’s Texas Rangers and now with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, has a 7-2 record and 2.03 ERA in NPB this year. Japan starter Masato Morishita, of the Hiroshima Carp, ranks second in ERA in the NPB’s Central League at 2.29.
Both starters were outstanding. Morishita, utilizing a pausing delivery that kept U.S. hitters off balance, pitched five shutout innings allowing just three hits and striking out five. Martinez was nearly even better, pitching six innings and striking out seven. But he of course did something Morishita did not: allow a run.
The Japan pitching staff as a whole held the U.S. to just six hits and one walk. U.S. batters struck out eight times and advanced a runner into scoring position just twice. Nick Allen was the only member of Team USA to have multiple hits, going 3-for-4 with two singles and a double.
All members of Team USA earn their first Olympic medal with one notable exception. Second baseman Eddy Alvarez, a silver medalist in speedskating at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, becomes the sixth athlete in Olympic history to win a medal in both the winter and summer versions of the Olympic Games.
Alvarez was one of five members of Team USA named to the All World Team, joining left-handed pitcher Anthony Gose, first baseman Triston Casas, designated hitter Tyler Austin and defensive player Nick Allen. Casas led the tournament with eight RBI and tied for the lead in home runs with three.
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.