Baseball: Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto halts Hawks’ postseason win streak

October 12, 2022

OSAKA (Kyodo) — Yoshinobu Yamamoto struck out 10 over eight innings, pitching the Orix Buffaloes to a 5-0 win over the SoftBank Hawks in Game 1 of the Pacific League Climax Series’ final stage on Wednesday.

The victory at Kyocera Dome Osaka, combined with the Buffaloes one-win advantage as league champions, gives them a 2-0 lead in the six-game series. SoftBank’s loss snapped its 18-game postseason win streak.

Yamamoto allowed five singles and no walks as he used his forkball, one of the most effective pitches in Japan, to devastating effect.

“I was just trying to keep them off the board one inning after another. When I got into a little trouble, I was able to buckle down,” Yamamoto said. “They’re a team with tremendous power, so I was extremely conscious of that.”

Hawks starter Shuta Ishikawa was charged with two runs over 4-1/3 innings on four hits and four walks. He issued a fourth-inning bases-loaded walk to Yutaro Sugimoto, and left with a man on in the fifth.

Reliever Tomohisa Ozeki issued two more bases-loaded walks in the fifth, and his replacement surrendered an RBI single to Sugimoto to cap the three-run inning.

Masataka Yoshida, who reached base in each of the Buffaloes’ run-scoring innings, homered in the seventh to make it 5-0.

The Central League champion Yakult Swallows won their opener against the Hanshin Tigers, 7-1 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium. Swallows starter Yasuhiro Ogawa allowed a run over 6-2/3 innings, while Jose Osuna blasted a three-run first-inning home run and Domingo Santana belted a two-run shot.

“The only thing I was thinking was get a pitch to hit and he threw me a fastball middle in,” Osuna said.

“Ogawa had a really good plan and he executed. That’s the way he’s been helping the team all year.”

In addition to a one-win final-stage advantage, Nippon Professional Baseball allows the higher-seeded teams in the Climax Series to advance if stages end in a tie.