‘KKKKKKKKKK’ even in the ‘worst pitch’ with 5 runs…ML scout “will get $200 million”
Oryx Buffaloes “ace” Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitched his worst game in front of scouts from nine major league teams. But his seven-inning performance against the odds drew rave reviews from the scouts.
Yamamoto started against the Chiba Lotte Marines in Game 1 of the Final Stage (FS) of the 2023 Nippon Professional Baseball Pacific League Climax Series at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan, on April 18 and threw 116 pitches for 10 hits, three walks, nine strikeouts and five runs (five earned) in seven innings.
Yamamoto, who is scheduled to reach the major leagues through the posting system after this season, went 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA in 23 games (164 innings) this year, including one no-hitter, making him the first pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball history to win four pitching titles (wins, win percentage, strikeouts, and ERA) in three consecutive years. And for what may be the last time, he was a key member of the starting rotation in the postseason.
He was coming off a long layoff after his last start against the Nihon Ham Fighters on April 2. Yamamoto’s pitching was clearly different than usual. In front of scouts from nine major league clubs, he struggled from the first inning. Yamamoto gave up an infield single to Takashi Ogino and an infield single to Yudai Fujioka in the first inning, putting runners in scoring position. Chiba Lotte then laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third.
Yamamoto faced Gregory Polanco in a big inning, but he was hit by a fastball in the middle of the strike zone and gave up a two-run double to right field. Luck wasn’t on his side. Yamamoto induced Hisanori Yasuda to hit a grounder to the second baseman that bounced off the glove of the second baseman who attempted a diving catch and became an infield hit, leaving the bases loaded for the next batter, Hiromi Oka.
Still, there weren’t many more runs. With the pressure on, Yamamoto began to spray the ball with all his might, unleashing a fastball that topped out at 156 mph, getting Kouki Yamaguchi to ground out to shortstop for a run and one out, and then firing a 147-mph forkball to Ko Matsukawa for a strikeout to end the inning.
Yamamoto’s best inning came in the second inning. Yamamoto started to settle down in the second inning, striking out three Chiba Rode batters before giving up two walks in the third, but retiring all three batters he faced to keep the game scoreless. He retired the Chiba Rodeo bats in order in the fourth inning, and continued his solid work in the fifth with a scoreless inning. 스포츠토토
Yamamoto threw over 20 pitches in the first inning alone, and his first pitch to the leadoff batter in the top of the sixth inning was a 99-pitch fastball, but he still threw a 156 mph fastball, which left a little to be desired. Yamamoto returned to the mound in the seventh inning, but gave up a single to Yamaguchi and an RBI single to Ogino, giving up four more runs.
While both the process and the outcome were disappointing, it’s clear that Yamamoto’s quality was on display. In particular, his seven innings of work despite giving up five runs showed why he is coveted by the major leagues. According to Japan’s Nikkan Sports, scouts from nine major league clubs have been vocal in their desire to sign him to a contract worth “30 billion yen (approximately $271.2 million, $200 million).”
On the day, Yamamoto got help from his offense, and according to Japan’s Nikkan Sports, it was the first time Yamamoto was the winning pitcher in a game in which he gave up five or more runs, which led to a record. “Yamamoto is now 3 for 3 following Game 1 of the 2021 Final Stage and Game 1 of the 2022 Final Stage,” the site said, “and is only the fifth pitcher in history to go 3 for 3 from his first start in a Climax Series, joining Darvish Yu in 2006-2008 (5 for 5), Kenshin Kawakami in 2007-2009, Masahiro Tanaka in 2009-2013, and Rick Wendelhulk in 2015-2016 (3 for 3 or better).”
Yamamoto, who won the first game of the Final Stage with the help of his offense despite pitching his worst game of the season, said, “I just couldn’t get it going. I didn’t have any good pitches, and there were a lot of balls. I struggled in a lot of ways,” he said, adding, “I was able to win somehow thanks to my hitters and bullpen. I’m grateful.”
According to Japan’s Daily Sports, the team that wins the first game of the climactic series final stage has done so 17 times out of 19 times in the Japan Series. With the win, the Oryx have an 89.5 percent chance of clinching the title. With one game in hand, the Oryx only need two wins to advance to the Japan Series.