BASEBALL | Buffaloes Hurler Yoshinobu Yamamoto Throws No-Hitter Against Lions

Japan Racing Association

Recognized as one of Nippon Professional Baseball’s elite pitchers, Yoshinobu Yamamoto further cemented his reputation with an electrifying performance on Saturday, June 18.

The Orix Buffaloes ace threw a no-hitter, stifling the Saitama Seibu Lions offense at Belluna Dome in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture.

Yamamoto (7-3), who threw 102 pitches, struck out nine and walked one in Orix’s 2-0 road win. The Buffaloes snapped a six-game losing streak.

Yamamoto became the fourth NPB pitcher to throw a no-hitter this season, following Chiba Lotte Marines pitcher Roki Sasaki’s perfect game on April 10 against the Buffaloes, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks starter Nao Higashihama’s gem on May 11. against the Lions and left-hander Shota of the Yokohama BayStars. Imanaga’s sensational effort against the Hokkaido Nipponham Fighters on June 7.

“I had this incredible focus until the ninth round, but I was fired up as I was throwing so I’m just thrilled,” Yamamoto said as quoted by Kyodo News after the game.

In Japan, the last time there were four no-hitters in the same season was in 1943 in the Japanese Baseball League, the NPB’s predecessor.

BNP was started in 1950 with the Central and Pacific Leagues. Yamamoto’s no-no was the 97th in Japanese professional baseball history, including the pre-NPB era (1936-49).

Yamamoto, 23, is 46-21 in six NPB seasons, all with the Buffaloes. He’s had a breakout year in 2021, posting a career-best 18-5 in 26 starts after back-to-back eight-win seasons. He whipped up 206 batters and walked just 40 in 193⅔ innings.

Individual glory was not on Yamamoto’s mind, he insisted after Saturday’s game. Instead, helping his team right the ship was priority #1.

“The team was on a losing streak, but above all my goal was to apply myself as best I could to the job at hand,” he said, according to Kyodo News.

“From the start, things went my way and I never lost that.”

Yuma Mune’s fifth-inning RBI brace broke a scoreless tie. Buffaloes teammate Keita Nakagawa added a sacrifice ball in the eighth to make it 2-0.

Orix improved to 31-35. Pacific League rival Seibu slipped to 31-33-1.


Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sunday, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odevenand find it on the JAPAN Forward sports website, SportsLook.

Charles P. Patton