Yoshinobu Yamamoto shines with 14 K’s in possible Japan finale

ESPNNov 4, 2023, 11:30 AM ET1 Minute Read

Pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto delivers a stunning performance, possibly his last in Japan, as he prepares to transition to the major leagues. Yamamoto’s impeccable performance includes a complete game and an impressive record-breaking 14 strikeouts, leading the Orix Buffaloes to a convincing 5-1 victory over the Hanshin Tigers. This win sets the stage for a thrilling Game 7 to determine the Japan Series champion.

At the age of 25, Yamamoto falls short of meeting the service time requirements for free agency in Japan. However, under the mutually agreed posting system between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball, he could potentially attract offers from major league teams.

Astonishingly, Yamamoto’s 14 strikeouts, achieved with a total of 138 pitches, surpass the previous record held by Yu Darvish. This magnificent feat serves as a remarkable turnaround from his performance in Game 1 of the series, where he struggled and allowed seven runs on 10 hits in 5⅔ innings.

In an interview with Kyodo News, Yamamoto expresses his focus and satisfaction, stating, “I went to the mound able to concentrate really well. I’m very happy that I was able to deliver the goods right until the end. The crowd’s cheers at the start of the ninth really gave me a boost.”

Yamamoto’s exceptional performance in September includes his second career no-hitter, which garnered attention from numerous influential MLB executives. Additionally, he showcased his talents as part of Japan’s World Baseball Classic-winning team this year.

With Game 7 approaching, Orix aims to secure a consecutive Japan Series title, while Hanshin fervently pursues their first championship since 1985 and their second overall.


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