Baseball made its return to the Olympics as part of this year’s schedule, after not being a part of the last two Summer Olympics. With active Major Leaguers obviously not allowed to play, Team USA’s roster is comprised mostly of talented minor league prospects, with Joe Ryan, who was acquired by the Twins in the Nelson Cruz trade, among them.
In game one of pool play, which was played early Friday morning here in the United States, Team USA gave the ball to Joe Ryan to go up against Israel. Ryan did not disappoint in his Olympic debut, as he gave up just one run on five hits, with five strikeouts and zero walks over six innings of work. This performance helped lead Team USA to an 8-1 victory.
Joe Ryan got his start going by getting Ian Kinsler to flyout to center field to begin the bottom of the first. Then, after a Ty Kelly double, Ryan got former Twin Danny Valencia to flyout for the second out of the inning. Ryan gave up another single, but Kelly only made it to third on the play. This was big, as Joe Ryan got Ryan Lavarnway to ground into a forceout to get out of the inning with no harm done.
The second and third innings for Ryan were much smoother, as he struck out the side in order in the second, and then got Israel to go down 1-2-3 in the third, which included striking out Ian Kinsler for the second out of the inning.
The lone run that Joe Ryan gave up was on a Danny Valencia leadoff home run in the bottom of the 4th. Ryan would give up a couple of one out singles later in the inning to Ryan Lavarnway and Nick Rickles, but would get out of the inning with no more runs allowed.
After his lone hiccup in the fourth, Joe Ryan cruised the rest of the way, as he set Isreal down 1-2-3 in both the fifth and sixth innings, before he was relieved to begin the seventh. In total, four of the six innings Ryan pitched were 1-2-3 innings.
Team USA is back in action on Saturday morning at 5 a.m. (central time) to take on South Korea in their second, and final, game of pool play before bracket play begins on Sunday. If they win, they will automatically advance to round two on Monday, but if they lose they will need to play in round one on Sunday.
If Team USA advances far enough, Joe Ryan could be available to pitch in either a Semifinal game next week Wednesday or Thursday, or he could pitch in a potential medal game next Saturday.