USA Baseball: Americans win silver medal following 2-0 loss to host nation Japan

2020 Tokyo Olympics Gold Medal
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Team USA lost 2-0 to Japan on Saturday in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics men's baseball gold medal game. 

The Americans, seeking their first gold medal in men's baseball since 2000, had also lost to Japan to open the week. That defeat sent them to the losers' bracket, and forced them to win contests against the Dominican Republic and South Korea to reach this point. (The Dominican Republic, it should be noted, defeated South Korea for the bronze.)

Below, you'll find five takeaways from the gold medal game.

1. Morishita masterful

Japan's efforts were paced in large part by right-handed starter Masato Morishita.

Morishita, a 23-year-old member of the Hiroshima Carp, dazzled against the Americans. He threw five innings, permitted three hits and no walks, and he struck out five batters and generated 11 swinging strikes on 81 pitches. Morishita's excellent outing shouldn't be too surprising; in 218 career innings in Nippon Professional Baseball, he has accumulated a 2.15 ERA and a 3.41 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

American starter Nick Martinez, by the way, delivered a quality start. He allowed five hits and a walk across six innings of work. He also punched out seven batters and coerced 15 whiffs. Martinez, who has pitched in the majors before with the Texas Rangers, is presently employed by NPB's Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

2. Japan strikes early, late

Neither side was able to put much together offensively. Indeed, the game's only score through the first even frames occurred in the third, when Japan's third baseman Munetaka Murakami launched a home run off Martinez.

Murakami, 21, is playing in his fourth professional season with the Yakult Swallows. For his career, he has hit .268/.380/.525 with 108 home runs in 450 games. 

Japan was later able to manufacture a second run in the bottom of the eighth. 

3. First gold for Japan, second silver United States

Despite having won two of the four World Baseball Classics, Japan had never before won a gold medal in the men's baseball event. Previously, Japan had won the silver once (in 1996) and the bronze twice (in 1992 and 2004). This, then, is a nice change of pace for the Japanese. What's more is they became the first host nation to win the men's baseball gold medal.

Team USA, meanwhile, had won the gold in 2000. This represents the Americans' first silver medal. Previously, Team USA had won the bronze in both 1996 and in 2008.

4. Alvarez now a multi-time, multi-sport medalist

This might not have been the team-level result Eddy Alvarez wanted, but he's owed congratulations nonetheless for becoming a multi-time, multi-sport medalist. 

Alvarez, a 31-year-old utility infielder who made his big-league debut with the Miami Marlins last season, had previously won a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. That medal came as part of a short track speed skating event (the men's 5,000 meter relay).

Alvarez started these Olympics with a different honor, as he was chosen by his Team USA peers as one of the opening ceremony flag bearers, alongside legendary basketball player Sue Bird.

5. No baseball at 2024 Olympics

Team USA will have to wait a while for an opportunity to redeem itself. This was, of course, the first time men's baseball had been featured at the Olympics since 2008. Unfortunately, it appears that it will once again be removed from the docket in advance of the 2024 Paris Olympics -- the host nation has say in what sports it wants to feature.

That means the Americans' next chance for gold in the national pastime won't occur until the 2028 Olympics, which are to be held on their home turf in Los Angeles.

You can relive our live blog coverage below.

United States vs. Japan

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