Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes), the ‘ace’ representing Japanese professional baseball who is about to advance to the major leagues, was a complete hit. The Hanshin Tigers captured their first game to win the Japan Series in 38 years.
Hanshin succeeded in taking the lead with an 8-0 away win against the Orix Buffaloes in the first game of the 2023 Japan Professional Baseball Japan Series held at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan on the 28th (Korean time).
This Japanese series was concluded as a ‘Kansai’ rivalry match between Hanshin and Orix, which are based in Osaka. Hanshin and Orix entered the Climax Series final stage as first place in the regular season of the Central League and Pacific League this year, and defeated the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and Chiba Lotte Marines, respectively, to advance to the Japan Series.
It has been 59 years since 1964 that the Japan Series was formed as a Kansai match. A match was held between Nankai Hawks (currently Softbank) and Hanshin, who were based in Osaka rather than Fukuoka at the time, and Nankai lifted the championship trophy after a match that went all the way to the 7th game. Although this was the first Japanese series between Orix and Hanshin, the ‘Kansai Derby’ was held, and it was Hanshin’s responsibility to dominate the first game.
▲ Starting lineup
Hanshin: Koji Chikamoto (center fielder) – Takumu Nakano (second baseman) – Shota Morishita (right fielder) – Yusuke Oyama (first baseman) – Teruaki Sato (third baseman) – Noiji Sheldon (left fielder) – Ryo Wanatabe (Designated hitter) – Seiya Kinami (shortstop) – Seishiro Sakamoto, starting pitcher Shoki Murakami
Orix: Ryoma Ikeda (left fielder) – Yuma Mune (third baseman) – Keita Nakagawa (first baseman) – Tomoya Mori (right fielder) – Yuma Tongu ( Catcher) – Kotaro Kurebayashi (shortstop) – Marwin Gonzalez (second baseman) – Kenya Wakatsuki (catcher) – Tomoya Noguchi (center fielder), starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Contrary to expectations, the game on this day went as a batting contest. Of course, Hanshin unilaterally pounded Oryx’s mound. The most shocking thing was that Orix ‘Ace’ Yamamoto, who was scheduled to enter the major league after this season’s schedule was completed, collapsed with 103 pitches, 10 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, and 7 runs (7 earned) in 5⅔ innings.
The early stages of the game for both teams were a pitching battle. Yamamoto allowed his first hit in the first inning, but finished the inning without allowing a run and cruised through the second and third innings with a three-way strike. And in the 4th inning, he succeeded in inducing a hit to the leadoff batter and a grounder to the follow-up batter, but was in danger of giving up a run due to multiple errors, but escaped the crisis with a double play and recorded no runs.
Hanshin’s Murakami pitching, whose talent began to bloom this year, was also solid. Murakami got off to a good start in the first inning by showing off a clean pitch and tying up Orix’s batting lineup with a three-way strike. Murakami, who recorded no runs with one strikeout in the second inning, blocked Orix’s batting line without a single hit or walk until the fourth inning, showing off ‘perfect’ pitching through four innings.
It was in the fifth inning that cracks began to appear in the tight game. Orix starting pitcher Yamamoto started the inning off a hit by Sato, but after allowing a stolen base, he was hit with an advanced base hit and was in danger with one out and third base on base. Here, Hanshin was attacked 155 km away from the first pitch by Wanatabe, allowing a timely hit to center field, and Hanshin succeeded in taking the lead by 1-0. The problem was that Yamamoto’s mistakes did not stop there.
Hanshin had another chance to score when Kinami hit a single with one out and runners on first base, and this time, Chikamoto widened the gap with a timely hit that brought both runners home. Then, with 2 outs and runners on third base, Nakano hit a single to score one more run, putting Hanshin up 4-0.
Yamamoto’s struggles continued, and Hanshin’s scoring continued. Yamamoto also took the mound in the 6th inning, and got off to an shaky start by giving up a walk after a 7-pitch battle with leadoff hitter Oyama. He then seemed to take a breather by catching the follow-up batter with a ground ball, but he was on the verge of conceding a run when he got a hit from Noiji, and the score gap widened to 6-0 as he got consecutive timely hits from Kinami and Sakamoto.
To extinguish the urgent fire, Orix replaced Yamamoto and brought in Nobuyoshi Yamada. But this card didn’t work either. Yamada walked Chikamoto as soon as he took the mound, putting the bases loaded. Here, Hanshin actually won by scoring one more point. And after hitting a timely hit in the 9th inning to seal the victory, Game 1 ended with Hanshin’s 8-0 victory.
Hanshin, who had not lifted the Japan Series championship trophy even once since 1985, achieved a record with a victory in the first game. According to Japan’s Daily Sports, hitting 13 hits in one game in the Japan Series set a new club record, exceeding 12 hits in Game 5 of the 1964 Japan Series.굿모닝토토 도메인
Orix, who lost even after releasing Yamamoto, is in emergency condition. Because we need to create a situation where Yamamoto can get on the mound again. If he is not careful, Yamamoto may not be able to stand on the Japan Series stage again and may leave for the United States. According to ‘Chunichi Sports’, Yamamoto said, “The loss in such an important game feels very big. The team’s goal is to rise to the top of Japan. There may or may not be one more game, but we will prepare well.” I swallowed my heart.