It’s a clutch pitch. Japan’s top ace, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (25, Oryx), prepares to start the elimination game in the Japan Series.
The Orix dropped a 6-2 decision to Hanshin in Game 5 of the Japan Series on Sunday at Koshien Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.
The Orix took the lead in the top of the fourth inning on a solo home run by Gonzalez. They made it 2-0 in the top of the seventh when Tomoya Mori hit a grounder to second base with two outs and the right fielder fumbled while trying to catch the grounder with his bare hands.
Orix starter Daiki Tajima pitched seven scoreless innings before the bullpen collapsed in the bottom of the eighth, allowing six runs on six hits.
The Oryx, who led the series 2-1, dropped Games 4 and 5 in a row to fall to a two-game, three-game deficit. The Oryx will need to win both Games 4 and 5 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome to claim the Japan Series title.
Game 6 will be started by ace Yamamoto, who started Game 1. Yamamoto made an unusual bullpen appearance in Game 5, but did not start the game. He is expected to start Game 6. This will be an even bigger game for Yamamoto.
Yamamoto started Game 1 at the Kyocera Dome on May 28, and he struggled, giving up seven runs on 10 hits in 5⅔ innings. It was his worst pitching performance. The seven earned runs in Game 1 were his most since his professional debut in 2017.
After a two-hit shutout through four innings, Yamamoto allowed four runs on five hits in the fifth. He was hit by back-to-back singles with runners on first and third in the sixth inning. The reliever was hit by a pitch, giving Yamamoto seven runs.
If Yamamoto starts Game 6, he will need to make up for his poor performance in Game 1. The Orix have advanced to the Japan Series for three straight years, but Yamamoto has yet to win a Japan Series game.
Last year, Yamamoto started Game 1 of the Japan Series against Yakult and was pulled early after giving up four runs in four innings. The Orix won four straight games to win the series after a 1-1 tie, but Yamamoto didn’t pitch after Game 1. 보스토토 도메인
He pitched well in the 2021 Japan Series, but was unsuccessful. He pitched a no-decision in Game 1 against Yakult, allowing one run in six innings. He pitched nine innings of one-run ball in Game 6, but was pulled with the game tied 1-1. In four career Japan Series appearances, he is 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA. It’s a far cry from his one-run ERA in the regular season.
In 23 games (164 innings) this season, Yamamoto is 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA and 169 strikeouts. From 2021 to this year, he became the first pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball history to achieve the feat of winning all four categories (wins, ERA, strikeouts, and winning percentage) in three consecutive years. After the season, he plans to try to reach the Major Leagues on a postseason basis. He is already attracting attention, with an estimated price tag of $200 million.
It will be interesting to see if he can make it to the major leagues after his success in the Japan Series.