US prospects, released players beat Israel 8-1 in Olympics

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Speedskating silver medalist Eddy Alvarez put the U.S. ahead with the first of his two RBI doubles, and the United States beat Israel 8-1 in the Americans’ Olympic opener on Friday night.

Tyler Austin hit a two-run homer, doubled twice and drove in three runs in his home ballpark.

Denied players on 40-man major league rosters, the U.S. started a mix of prospects unneeded by major league teams this summer and released players. Nine of the 10 starters totaled a career WAR of -1.0; the exception was Todd Frazier at 25.1.

Joe Ryan (1-0), a 25-year-old Triple-A right-hander acquired by Minnesota last week in the trade that sent Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay, relied on a 92 mph fastball. He allowed one run and five hits in six innings with three strikeouts.

Showing how far from the usual farm systems that Olympic baseball players come from, Israel brought in 42-year right-hander Shlomo Lipetz to relieve in the sixth inning. His day job is director of music programming at City Winery in New York.

Joey Wagman (0-1), a 30-year-old righty who has never pitched above Double-A, gave up three runs and four hits in three innings. Israel dropped to 0-2 in Group B of its Olympic baseball debut.

Alvarez, who earned a 2014 medal in short track speedskating, is now a Miami Marlins’ Triple-A player and was a flag bearer during last week’s opening ceremony. He looped a hanging curve off the end of his bat into short left field in the three-run third at empty Yokohama Stadium.

Austin, a former Yankee playing in his second season with the Central League’s Yokohama DeNA BayStars, drove a high fastball on the next pitch over the right-center field wall for a 3-0 lead.

Danny Valencia, whose last big league season was 2018, drove in Israel’s run when he lined an up fastball over the left-field wall leading off the fourth, cutting the lead to 3-1.

Frazier reached when Ian Kinsler bobbled his grounder in the sixth for an error and scored when Bubba Starling popped the ball into short left field and it hit off the glove of diving shortstop Scotty Burcham for an RBI single.

Alvarez and Austin hit consecutive RBI doubles in the seventh off Jonathan de Marte after center fielder Blake Gailen dropped Jamie Westbrook’s leadoff fly ball for an error.

Starling added a run-scoring grounder in the eighth, and Boston prospect Triston Casas singled in a run in the ninth.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1, MEXICO 0

Melky Cabrera hit a run-scoring single with two outs in the fifth and Jose Bautista threw out the potential tying run at home plate as the Dominicans (1-1) beat Mexico (0-1).

Charlie Valerio, a 30-year-old catcher with Sioux Falls in the independent American Association, doubled leading off the fifth against Theodore Stankiewicz (0-1), a 27-year-old right-hander who pitched in Boston’s minor league system and is with Tijuana. Cabrera, a 15-year big league veteran who last played with Pittsburgh in 2019, sliced a single to left.

Mexico threatened in the sixth after Isaac Rodriguez reached on a bunt single; a video review reversed the initial out call by the first base umpire. Rodriguez advanced on Valerio’s passed ball, and Joey Meneses singled to left.

Bautista, a six-time All-Star who is 40 and made his last big league appearance in 2018, threw a one-hop strike to Valerio for the tag. With two on and two outs, Daniel Espinoza hit a flyout that center fielder Emilio Bonifacio snagged with a backhand grab on the warning track.

Ángel Sánchez (1-0), a 31-year-old right-hander whose only time in the major leagues was eight games with Pittsburgh in 2018, allowed two hits in five innings. Luis Castillo, a 25-year-old Arizona Triple-A right-hander, got three straight outs for the save, completing a four-hitter.

Dominican second baseman Gustavo Núñez injured his left knee in a third-inning collision with Seattle prospect Julio Rodríguez on a flyout by Isaac Rodriguez that the right fielder grabbed as he struck Núñez. Yefri Pérez replaced Núñez to start the fourth. Rodriguez felt pain in his lips and chin, manager Hector Borg said, but stayed in the game.

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