Friday, June 28, 2013

Daisuke Yamai No-Hits the Baystars!

On Friday night Daisuke Yamai recorded his first career no-hitter in a 9-0 Chunichi win over Yokohama.  The Dragons jumped out to a 7-run lead in the first prior to Yamai even taking the mound.  Yamai then proceeded to mow down Yokohama's hitters, the first nine in order until a 4th inning walk toTakehiro Ishikawa.  Yamai finished the game with 4 walks and 3 strikeouts, the Dragons defense commited no errors and no Yokohama runner got any farther than first base.  Yamai cruised through the first six innings without giving up any hard hit balls (at least that I recall).  He wasn't striking out many guys but his breaking ball was producing a lot of weak grounders including two double-plays.  After the sixth Yokohama began to hit the ball more squarely and Yamai dodged a few bullets along the way.  Takagi brought Morino and Fujii  in early as defensive replacements to help preserve the no-hitter.  Both players made major contributions as Morino made a nice diving stop on a grounder in the 7th and Fujii overcame a stumble to snag a well hit ball in the 8th, Fujii as well as Ohshima covered a lot of outfield ground in the late innings tracking down deep balls hit by Blanco, Shirasaki and Ramirez.  With two outs in the 9th Yamai fielded a bounding groundball headed towards first base and underhanded to Morino at the bag to record the final out, just getting the speedy Kensuke Uchimura and making himself the 77th NPB pitcher to record a no-hitter.

I can't think of a more deserving pitcher than Yamai to get a no-hitter.  Looking back at Yamai's start in Game 5 of the 2007 Japan Series, in which Daisuke had a perfect game going through 8 innings but was then pulled in favor of closer Hitoki Iwase in what turned out to be the clinching game for Chunichi.  I still agree with then-manager Ochiai's decision, but it was still an unfortunate circumstance for Yamai who came so close to the record books and was left to wonder what would have happened had he come out for the 9th inning.  Now, thanks to his performance Friday night, he and everyone else who follows Japanese baseball knows that he has what takes to finish off a no-hitter.  

No comments: