Team USA flag bearer Eddy Alvarez wasn’t finished creating big moments at the Tokyo Olympics after the Opening Ceremony ended.
Batting second and playing second base, Alvarez hit a pair of RBI doubles Friday as the U.S. baseball team opened play with an 8-1 win over Israel in Yokohama, Japan.
The 31-year-old Alvarez, a first-generation Cuban-American, is a minor leaguer in the Marlins’ system who played his first 12 MLB games last season. Alvarez, before his pro baseball career, was a world-class speed skater and won a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Last week, he became a household name when he was chosen to carry the stars and stripes.
Tyler Austin, who spent parts of the 2016-18 seasons with the Yankees, crushed a two-run home run in a three-run third inning. A late roster addition now playing in Japan’s professional league, Austin added two doubles to finish with three extra-base hits.
“Austin is a middle of the lineup hitter that we’re excited to have,” U.S. manager Mike Scioscia said before the game.
The Americans scored in each of the final four innings, including a run from former Yankees and Mets third baseman Todd Frazier, who fired up the team in a pregame huddle.
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“I’m from [New] Jersey: We talk all the time,” Frazier, a Toms River native who was with the Pirates earlier this season, told fuboTV. “That’s just part of my nature, part of the beast. … The Olympics feels awesome. You pinch yourself.”
Eight runs are the most for the Americans in the first game of any Olympics. Baseball is back in 2021 with six teams after it was eliminated from the previous two Olympics.
Joe Ryan, a Twins prospect, struck out five and allowed five hits and one run over six innings. Brandon Dickson, Anthony Carter and Ryder Ryan each threw one scoreless inning of relief against an Israel lineup that included four-time MLB All-Star Ian Kinsler and MLB veteran Danny Valencia, who homered off Ryan.
The U.S. will face South Korea Saturday (6 a.m. EDT) to determine the Group B winner before Group A’s Japan, Mexico and the Dominican Republic join the seeded knockout round.