Todd Frazier and his American teammates celebrated, dousing each other as if they had won the World Series.
“Playing for your country, it’s the coolest thing in the world,” the 35-year-old third baseman said.
The United States qualified for the Olympic baseball tournament on its second try, beating Venezuela, 4-2, Saturday behind Frazier’s 4-for-4 night that included a solo homer, RBI double, and two singles.
Frazier even stole a base, started a key double play to get the US out of trouble in the first inning, and fielded the grounder for the final out.
“He’s a guy that has kind of cemented the team. He’s the keystone,” US manager Mike Scioscia said.
Before a pandemic-limited crowd of 2,202 at the New York Mets spring training ballpark, Frazier was spurred on by chants of “U-S-A!”
“I had one of my better games I’ve had in a long time,” Frazier said. “And I just kept telling myself I’m not letting this slip away.”
The US finished 4-0 to win the Americas qualifying tournament and joined Japan, Israel, Mexico, and South Korea at Olympic baseball, to be played in Japan from July 28 to Aug. 7 in Fukushima and Yokohama.
“Every pitch was intense,” Scioscia said, comparing it to “playing five elimination games in the playoffs or a pennant race, and you can’t stub your toe, at all.”
A two-time All-Star, Frazier singled leading off the fourth against loser Aníbal Sánchez and scored on Eric Filia’s two-run homer. Frazier hit an RBI double in the fifth for a 3-1 lead and homered in the seventh.
Frazier was 3 for 35 for Pittsburgh this season before he was released on May 13.
Edwin Jackson, a 37-year-old veteran of a record 14 major league teams, pitched two hitless innings for the win.
David Robertson, who last pitched in the major leagues for Philadelphia in 2019, struck out two in a hitless ninth around a walk for his second save of the tournament.
Guerrero Jr. powers Blue Jays
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Joe Panik homered, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Houston Astros, 6-2, Saturday in Buffalo.
Panik’s tiebreaking three-run shot off José Urquidy gave Toronto a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning. Guerrero connected in the fifth, sending a two-run drive deep to left for his 18th homer.
Guerrero finished with three hits, raising his batting average to .338.
Ross Stripling pitched five innings of one-run ball for the Blue Jays, who improved to 3-1 at their temporary home. Stripling (2-3) allowed seven hits, struck out four, and walked one.
Carlos Correa had three hits for the Astros, who won, 13-1, in the series opener Friday night. Myles Straw drove in two runs.
Urquidy (4-3) was tagged for a season-high six runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Harper helps Phillies in return
Bryce Harper hit a run-scoring single that stopped an 0-for-18 skid in his return from the injured list, Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer, and the host Phillies beat the Nationals, 5-2. Harper was in right field and hit third after missing 11 games with a left wrist injury. He was hit by a pitch in the sixth, taking a Joe Ross slider off the top of his left foot, but remained in the game. Harper was hurt on April 28 when a 97-mile-per-hour fastball from St. Louis’s Genesis Cabrera hit him on the face and then the left wrist. He returned to the lineup after three days off but struggled … Yadier Molina left in the fourth inning with a bruised left knee, and the Cardinals extended a losing streak to four for the first time this year with a 5-2 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds in St. Louis. The 38-year-old Molina took a foul tip off the bat of Kyle Farmer, initially staying in the game but he appeared to be limping. “It’s a bone contusion on his knee,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “It could have obviously been much worse, but initial findings are day to day.”
Stallings lifts Pirates in 12th
Jacob Stallings hit a game-ending single in the 12th inning that lifted the host Pittsburgh Pirates over Miami, 8-7, and extended the Marlins’ longest losing streak in six years to eight games. Automatic runner Adam Frazier advanced to third on Ke’Bryan Hayes’s flyout leading off the 12th against Adam Cimber (1-2). Bryan Reynolds was intentionally walked, and Stallings lined a single to center. Clay Holmes (2-0) pitched a perfect 12th … Rich Hill (5-2) pitched five scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing two hits while throwing 59 pitches as the Rays blanked the host Rangers, 3-0. Diego Castillo struck out the side in the ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances. Austin Meadows had a two-run single off Kolby Allard (1-2) and Manuel Margot hit a solo homer in the eighth for the Rays (37-23), who have AL’s best record … Tarik Skubal struck out a career-high 11, Eric Haase homered twice, and the Tigers beat the host White Sox, 4-3. Miguel Cabrera also homered for the Tigers, while José Cisnero pitched a perfect ninth for his first career save.
Means leaves game early
Cesar Hernandez and Harold Ramirez homered off Baltimore ace John Means (4-2), who exited in the first inning with shoulder fatigue, as the Indians beat the host Orioles, 10-4. Cedric Mullins homered twice as part of his second career five-hit outing for Baltimore. Ryan Mountcastle hit a solo shot in the sixth. Yu Chang also homered to help Aaron Civale (8-2) tie for the major league lead in victories … Ryan Jeffers, Kyle Garlick, and Miguel Sanó homered, and the Twins turned a game-ending double play with the potential tying run at third base to beat the host Royals, 5-4, and stop a four-game losing streak … Kevin Gausman (7-0) struck out 10 in seven innings, Alex Dickerson homered, and the host Giants beat the Cubs, 4-3. Gausman allowed two hits and two unearned runs, lowering his ERA to 1.27 . . . Ozzie Albies drove in the go-ahead run in a five-run third inning, Abraham Almonte got a pinch-hit homer in the seventh, and the host Braves beat the Dodgers, 6-4 … Christian Yelich and Omar Narváez hit back-to-back homers in the eighth inning and the Brewers beat the Diamondbacks, 7-5, Arizona’s team-record 16th straight road loss.
Detroit’s Turnbull on injured list
The Tigers placed righthander Spencer Turnbull (strained right forearm) on the 10-day injured list. Turnbull left Friday night’s 9-8 loss to the White Sox after working four innings of one-run ball. Tigers manager A.J. Hinch didn’t have an update on Turnbull, who was going to be seen by another doctor. Turnbull is 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA in nine starts. He pitched a no-hitter May 18 at Seattle … The Rockies placed righthander Jon Gray (right flexor strain) on the 10-day injured list a day after he cut short a start due to injury … The Giants designated lefthander Scott Kazmir for assignment. A three-time All-Star, Kazmir ended a nearly five-year absence from the majors when he started against the Dodgers on May 22, allowing one run over four innings. In three appearances with San Francisco, Kazmir went 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in seven innings of work. He lasted just two innings in a start against the Cubs on Friday.