YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) – José Bautista had just scored his first Olympic hit, adding a walkoff single to the Dominican Republic tournament that crowned a rally in the ninth inning and eliminated surprising Israel.
Of course, this bat would be turned over.
“It’s part of this New Age baseball thing that happens,” said the 40-year-old 7: 6 victory on Tuesday evening. “It all started with the Winter Ball a few years ago. It’s just a way to give the game a little bit of your own taste, to celebrate a little bit of the excitement, to land a hit. “
And what a fuss.
Israel overcame a 2-0 deficit in the fifth inning, wasted a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning, fell 5-4 when Jeison Guzman made a homer in the seventh game against Zack Weiss, and shot 6 in the eighth : 5 lead when Danny Valencia hit his third home run of the tournament, a double drive from Jumbo Diaz.
Weiss (1: 1) had relieved with an out in sixth place, and Israel’s manager Eric Holtz hesitated to dig deeper into his bullpen.
Red Sox Minor Leaguer Johan Mieses headed the ninth with a shot that nearly cleared left field seats and left the ballpark, the fourth Olympics homer allowed by Weiss.
Melky Cabrera isolated, Roldani Baldwin sacrificed pinch runner Yefri Pérez on the second, Guzman was deliberately kicked and DJ Sharabi was relieved.
Gustavo Núñez ended up in a forceout that left the runners in the corners and spawned Bautista. The six-time all-star was dropped from the starting XI by manager Hector Borg after going 0-8 and then entered the fourth inning after Emilio Bonifacio injured an Achilles tendon.
Bautista had run and fled almost three years after his last big league appearance before hitting a key point.
With three infielders on the left, Bautista took a 2-1 breakball that narrowly missed the outside corner, then reached out and landed another corner that was way out of the way. The ball bounced between second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was moved to the second player’s left side, and shortstop Scotty Burcham and into left field for a single.
Bautista took two steps towards first, giving the bat a smooth end-over-end throw – just two full spins, nothing like the epic flip that made his triple homer for Toronto ahead of Sam Dyson of Texas in Game 5 of the 2015 AL Division series followed. He was attacked by fellow players in the middle of the infield.
“I am glad and happy that they recorded it and enjoyed it,” he said of his many bat imitators. “This game is for them to enjoy and the more opportunities you have to connect with the fans, I think it’s great.”
The Dominicans (2-2) won a matchup against the United States (2-1) just 14 hours later on Wednesday. In the double elimination format, the winner of this game plays for a gold medal playground against the loser of the semi-finals Japan-South Korea on Wednesday evening.
Israel (1-4) knocked out Mexico in their first ever Olympic baseball tournament. The Isrealis have had ex-major league players in Kinsler and Valencia this season, and even one with a few at-bats in catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Although they are not from Israel, they joined the team because of their Jewish background.
But the team’s pitching was in important innings, to use a Yiddish phrase, “gournish to help” – nothing is going to help you.
Bonifacio kicked off the game with a Bunt slamming into short left field over third baseman Ty Kelly, and Bonifacio slipped headlong into third when Burcham heaved the ball into right field for a mistake.
Christopher Mercedes, who lines up for the Yomiuri Giants of the Central League, took a 2-0 lead and held Israel without a hit for 4 1/3 of the innings. But he was hit hard in the fifth and was injured when Guzman misplayed a grounder to make a mistake.
Mitch Glasser equalized the score with two-fold doubles, and Burcham and Kinsler had RBI singles. Israel could have scored more goals, but Bautista threw Nick Rickles from left field on the plate, his second assist at the Olympics.
Julio Rodriguez hit an RBI single in Jake Fishman’s sixth off and Mieses leveled the score 4-4 with a run-scoring grounder on a slow scooter to third.
Luis Castillo (1-1), a 25-year-old Arizona triple-A right-handed player, threw a goalless inning to victory.
Weiss, a 29-year-old right-handed player, made his only big league appearance for Cincinnati in 2018. He finished with a 9:00 ERA.
Israel hit .232, beating Dominicans .230 and Mexico .200, but its 6.49 ERA was better than just Mexico’s 6.92.
“I want everyone to see where Israel Baseball is from and where it is now,” said Holtz. “We were an inning away from upset the Dominican Republic. People have to see and hear that. And if we can build on this moment and continue to grow and inspire Israelis to play baseball in Israel, then we’ll do our job and we’ve done our job well. “
Lavarnway hit .350 with two homers and three RBIs.
Kinsler batted .222 with three RBIs. The 39-year-old, four-time all-star, sounded exhausted.
“I would like to stay involved in some way. I’m not sure what it is now, ”he said. “I don’t have a chance to play. I feel like I have two stones on both of my feet. “
Glasser, a 31-year-old right fielder who plays for an independent team in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, hit a team best of .412 with four RBIs.
Valencia had seven RBIs. Now 36, he’s a nine-year-old big league veteran who last played in 2018.
“It will be some time before it is over. It hurts now, and so be it, ”he said. “This is something I will remember forever. And hopefully, as Ian said, it will inspire the people of Israel to pick up a bat and ball and play baseball because they saw us having so much fun at the Olympics on TV. “
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