Yoshinobu Yamamoto (25, Oryx Buffaloes), the four-time Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) champion of the 2023 season, has fallen apart in Game 1 of the Japan Series.
Yamamoto started Game 1 of the Japan Series against the Hanshin Tigers at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan, on Monday and struggled, allowing four runs on seven hits with six strikeouts in five innings.
Yamamoto went 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 23 appearances this season, becoming the first pitcher in NPB history to win the four major awards (wins, ERA, strikeouts, and winning percentage) in three consecutive years. Yamamoto, who will be making his major league debut as a post player after this season, has already attracted interest from a number of major league clubs during the season.
After leading the Ducks to a first-place finish in the Pacific League, Yamamoto started Game 1 of the climactic series finale against the Chiba Lotte Marines on April 18 and was roughed up for five runs on 10 hits in seven innings with nine strikeouts. The Orix won 8-5 and Yamamoto picked up the win, but five runs was an unfamiliar number. The most runs Yamamoto had allowed in a single regular season game this year was four in six innings against the SoftBank Hawks on June 23.
In his first start in 10 days, Yamamoto was perfect through four innings, allowing just two hits, but he faltered a bit in the fifth when he allowed a leadoff single to Teruaki Sato and then stole second. Yamamoto got Sheldon Neugebauer to fly out to right field for the second out, allowing Sato to advance to third.
Yamamoto gave up a single to Ryo Watanabe with runners on first and third. Seiya Kinami followed with a single to put runners on first and second. A failed sacrifice bunt by Seishiro Sakamoto gave Yamamoto a breather for the second out, but with runners on second and third, he was finally hit by Koji Chikamoto for a triple to right-center field. Takumu Nakano followed with a single to left center to extend the deficit to four runs. Yamamoto got Shota Morishita to ground out to second on a full count to end the inning.굿모닝토토
After throwing 73 pitches through five innings, Yamamoto took the mound in the sixth. Unable to settle down, Yamamoto allowed leadoff hitter Yusuke Oyama to walk on a full count. The next batter, Sato, walked to put runners on first and second, and Yamamoto gave up a single to Noiji to put runners on first and third again.
Yamamoto got Watanabe, who had a leadoff single, to ground out to second for the second out, but gave up a single to Kinami for the fifth run. With runners on first and second, Yamamoto gave up a single to Sakamoto that sailed over the third baseman, leaving runners on second and third. Nobuyoshi Yamada took over on the mound and walked the tying run, bringing Yamamoto’s final line to 5⅔ innings, 10 hits, seven runs, seven walks and one strikeout.
Hanshin, meanwhile, led 7-0 in the sixth inning, thanks to a strong outing from starter Ryoki Murakami, who pitched a one-hit shutout through five innings.