Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the best pitcher in Japanese baseball, who won the Sawamura Award for the third year in a row, has saved his team, the Orix, from the brink. The Japan Series is now headed to Game 7.
The Oryx Buffaloes evened the series at three games apiece with a 5-1 victory over the Hanshin Tigers in Game 6 of the 2023 SMBC Japan Series at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan, on Thursday.
The starting pitchers from Game 1 were in the return matchup, and the outcome was different. Yamamoto, who took the loss in Game 1 after allowing seven runs in 5⅔ innings, pitched nine shutout innings. Hanshin’s Shoki Murakami, who had the first laugh in game one, took the loss after allowing four runs in five innings.
Yamamoto, who earned the complete game victory, allowed Hanshin batters to reach base early in the game, including a leadoff single in the second inning, but held on to the mound to give the Oryx Game 7.
Hanshin jumped on Yamamoto in the second inning with a leadoff solo home run by foreign-born Sheldon Noiji, but the Oryx answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning to turn the game around. After leadoff hitter Marwin Gonzalez singled up the middle, Yutaro Sugimoto doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs.
Sugimoto’s pitch sailed high for what looked like a home run and then suddenly disappeared. According to the local rules of Kyocera Dome, it was a double. The Kyocera Dome Local Rules define what happens when a ball hits the inside of the super ring (ceiling structure) of the fair zone. If the ball hits and falls, it’s in play; if it doesn’t, it’s a double. Sugimoto’s case falls into the latter category.
The next batter, Kenya Wakatsuki, hit a game-tying single in the ninth inning. With runners on first and third, Keita Nakagawa made it 2-1 with a sacrifice fly to left field. The run proved to be the game-winner.
The decisive run came in the fifth inning. Following Nakagawa’s single and Yuma Mune’s sacrifice bunt, Asia Professional Baseball Championship Series (APBC) shortstop Kotaro Kurebayashi extended the lead to 4-1 with a two-run home run to center. In the eighth inning, No. 5 hitter Yuma Tongu drove in a run with a solo shot.
Hanshin narrowly missed a comeback opportunity in the fourth inning. With runners on first and third, Koji Chikamoto hit a hard line drive to the fence. A pair would have put the game out of reach, but right fielder Tomoya Mori dashed Hanshin’s hopes. Mori is only 5-foot-7, but he reared back, stretched out his arm, and caught the ball in his glove. Hanshin requested a video review, but the call was upheld.
More than anything, Yamamoto’s heroics were the decisive factor in the victory. Yamamoto threw a whopping 138 pitches over nine innings, allowing just one run on nine hits and one hit by pitch. He struck out 14.
He was already up to 126 pitches in the eighth inning, but he continued in the ninth. He struck out the first batter, Gento Itohara, on six pitches before 토토사이트 giving up a single to Seiya Kinami. He retired the next batter, Ryo Watanabe, on a three-pitch walk and then got the final batter, Chikamoto, to ground out to second base to end the game. It was a tricky pitch, but Koji Oshiro made a soft catch and fired to the shortstop for the 27th out.