Yamamoto played 8 scoreless innings against Hanshin on the 13th. He recently won five games in a row and ranked first in wins, earned run average, and winning percentage. Photo source = Orix Buffaloes SNS
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Orix Buffaloes right-hander Yamamoto Yoshinobu (25) threw a perfect pitch at Koshien Stadium, the mecca of Japanese baseball. On the 13th, he started in an away game against the Hanshin Tigers (interleague match), recording 2 hits and no runs in 8 innings. He led the 2-0 Youngbong victory and recorded his 6th victory of the season.
It was a meaningful match in my 7th year as a pro. As a starter, he took the mound for the first time at Koshien Stadium, overwhelming the Central League’s No. 1 Hanshin batting line. Against 29 hitters, he struck out 11 and gave up two on four balls. 112 pitches. The highest fastball speed reached 157 km.
Since the match against Chiba Lotte Marines on April 29, they have won 5 consecutive victories in 6 matches. Up to this day, in 3 interleague games, he recorded 1 run in 24 innings and an average ERA of 0.38. It’s an extreme mode. On May 30, against the Hiroshima Carp, he pitched 8 scoreless innings and on June 6 against the Yomiuri Giants, he allowed 1 run in 8 innings.
Yamamoto pitched in 9 games this year, and all had quality starts (6 or more innings, 3 earned runs or less).
It went easy from the start. He sealed it perfectly, giving up one hit and one walk until the sixth inning. He was driven to a crisis after two runs in the seventh inning.
Hanshin No. 5 Ugyo Maegawa went to the dune, and No. 6 Ryo Watanabe went on base due to an error by the first baseman. 7th Seishiro Sakamoto from 2nd, 1st and 2nd bases with an infield hit, 2nd loaded with bases.
Orix ace Yamamoto started 9 games this season and finished all of them with quality starts. Photo source
Yamamoto playing catch with the WBC national team. Photo source = Japan National Baseball Team website
Like an ace, he did not lose his concentration. He ended the inning with a shortstop ground ball to Seiya Kinami in the 8th. Yamamoto said, “He tried to throw coolly and not get carried away by the ballpark atmosphere.”
As of the 13th, Yamamoto has 6 wins (2 losses), an average ERA of 1.59, a win rate of 7.5%, and 68 strikeouts. He tied for first in wins, earned run average and winning percentage, and was ranked second in strikeouts. Roki Sasaki (Chiba Lotte Marines) recorded 79 strikeouts, leading the division. If Yamamoto wants to win 4 crowns for 3 consecutive years, he has to beat Sasaki.
For the past two years, Yamamoto has been the best pitcher in Japanese professional baseball. From 2021 to 2022, he won four Pacific League wins, earned run average, strikeouts, and winning percentage for the second consecutive year. He was named MVP two years in a row and won the Sawamura Award. He also led Orix to a league championship for the second year in a row. Last year, Orix defeated the Yakult Swallows to win the Japan Series. At the center was Yamamoto.
Yamamoto plans to enter the major leagues through the posting system after the end of this season. He throws every game in the presence of scouts from major league clubs.
Yamamoto and Sasaki are the main players in winning the WBC (World Baseball Classic) Japan. He appeared as a starting pitcher side by side in the group stage match. In the semifinal match against Mexico, Yamamoto threw after starter Sasaki.
The two made their first appearance in the regular season in mid-April after a period of rest and reorganization after the tournament. As a pitcher representing Japanese professional baseball, he continues to make a big success without the aftereffects of the WBC.