This is what an ace looks like.
Orix Buffaloes right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, 25, pitched a perfect game at Koshien Stadium, a shrine to Japanese baseball. He started 먹튀검증 an interleague game against the Hanshin Tigers on March 13 and threw eight innings of two-hit ball. He earned his sixth win of the season in a 2-0 shutout.
In his seventh year as a professional, it was a big game. In his first start on the mound at Koshien Stadium, he dominated the Central League’s top-ranked Hanshin offense. Facing 29 batters, he struck out 11 and walked two. Threw 112 pitches. His fastball reached 157 mph.
Since April 29 against the Chiba Lotte Marines, he has won five of six games. In the three interleague games leading up to that game, he had a 0.38 ERA in 24 innings pitched. He’s in dominant mode. He threw eight scoreless innings against the Hiroshima Capps on May 30 and eight scoreless innings against the Yomiuri Giants on June 6.
Yamamoto has appeared in nine games this year, all of which have been quality starts (6+ innings pitched, 3 earned runs or less).
It was easy going early on. He was perfect through the sixth inning, allowing just one hit and one walk. Two outs in the seventh and he was in trouble.
Hanshin #5 Maegawa Ukyou walked, and #6 Watanabe Ryo reached on an error by the first baseman. With runners on first and second, Seishiro Sakamoto, #7, singled to center field to load the bases.
The ace stayed focused. He got No. 8 Seiya Kinami to ground out to shortstop to end the inning. “I tried to throw calmly and not get carried away by the atmosphere in the stadium,” Yamamoto said.
Back on top.
After 13 days, Yamamoto is 6-2 with a 1.59 ERA, a 7.05 winning percentage, and 68 strikeouts. He is tied for first in wins, first in ERA and winning percentage, and second in strikeouts. Roki Sasaki (Chiba Lotte Marines) is first in that category with 79 strikeouts. Yamamoto will need to overtake Sasaki to win the quadruple crown for the third straight year.
For the past two years, Yamamoto has been the best pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball. In 2021 and 2022, he led the Pacific League in wins, ERA, strikeouts, and winning percentage for the second straight year. He was named MVP for the second straight year and won the Sawamura Award. He also led the Oryx to their second straight league championship. Last year, the Oryx defeated the Yakult Swallows to win the Japan Series. Yamamoto was at the center of it all.
After this season, Yamamoto plans to enter the Major Leagues through the posting system. Every game, he pitches in front of scouts from major league clubs.
Yamamoto and Sasaki were the mainstays of Japan’s World Baseball Classic (WBC) victory. They started side-by-side in the group stage. In the semifinals against Mexico, Yamamoto pitched after Sasaki.
After the tournament, the duo took time to rest and regroup before making their first regular-season starts in mid-April. As expected from a pitcher representing Nippon Professional Baseball, Yamamoto continued his strong performance without any WBC aftereffects.