US Perspectives, Released Players Beat Israel 8-1 at the Olympics

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Joe Ryan allowed five hits over six innings in his first outing since he was swapped, and speedskating silver medalist Eddy Alvarez and Tyler Austin powered the offense to lead the United States over Israel 8-1 in the Americans’ opener on Friday night. Ryan (1-0), a 25-year-old Triple-A right-hander, was in the dining hall when U.S. teammate Eric Filia told him Cruz was being sent to the Rays. Ryan looked at Shane Baz, his fellow Rays minor leaguer on the U.S. team, and Baz guessed one of them would be involved.

Israel went with a 30-year-old who has never pitched above Double-A and brought in the director of music programming at New York’s City Winery to relieve. Such is Olympic baseball. Ryan, likely within a year of a big league debut, relied on a 92 mph fastball. He gave one run and struck out three.

“He’s got really great stuff,” said former major leaguer Danny Valencia, who homered on a fastball in the fourth inning. “I think the Twins are going be really pleased with him. I think that he’s going to be one of their better pitchers for a lot of years to come.” 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 other was Todd Frazier at 25.1.

Right-hander Joey Wagman (0-1) started for Israel and gave up three runs and four hits in three innings. Israel dropped to 0-2 in Group B of its Olympic baseball debut. Israel brought in 42-year right-hander Shlomo Lipetz to relieve in the sixth inning as its fifth pitcher. He’ll go back to City Winery after the Olympics. “I play on weekends. I practice as much as possible — early in the morning, late at night,” Lipetz said.

He pitched in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the 2019 European Championship and Olympic qualifying. Lipetz retired Boston prospect Triston Casas on a groundout, got Frazier to line into an inning-ending double play and gave up a single to Filia. “Call me delusional. I think I can get anyone out,” Lipetz said. While Ryan is trying to reach the majors, Lipetz’s goal is more evangelical.

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