The no-hitter was broken in the 8th inning, but… 138 shutouts, exploding potential of Japanese prospects

The no-hitter was broken in the 8th inning with 1 out, but he was responsible until the end of the 9th inning. Japanese professional baseball Seibu Lions right-hander Tatsuya Imai (25) threw 138 pitches and soothed the disappointment with a shutout victory. 

On the 13th, Imai started in a home game against Chiba Lotte Marines at Omiya Stadium in Saitama Prefecture, Japan, and led Seibu to a 2-0 victory with 9 innings, 2 hits, 3 walks, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts, and a shutout. 

Imai, who completed the first shutout in Japanese professional baseball this year, recorded his third shutout in two years and his personal career, following the Rakuten Golden Eagles match on May 5, 2019 and the Orix Buffaloes match on September 11, 2021. On the 4th, the first appearance of the season, against Rakuten, 7 innings, 3 hits, 4 walks, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts, no runs, and an ERA of 0.00 with two consecutive victories. 

Imai gave up only 4 walks with 2 walks and 2 hit balls until 1 out in the 8th inning, but did not hit a single hit. After one out in the 8th inning, a 151km fastball on the 4th pitch thrown to Hisanori Yasuda led to a left-handed hit, ending the no-hitter game, but Imai with 98 pitches did not go down the mound. Imai, who finished the inning with the next two batters in a row looking and striking out, took the mound in the ninth inning with 109 pitches.

After one out, a walk and a hit hit the first and second base crisis, but it did not collapse. Chiba Lotte’s 4th hitter, Kogi Yamaguchi, struck out on a swing with a slider, and after an 8-pitch match, foreign hitter Gregory Polanco was treated as a fly ball to the first base infield, ending the game with a complete shutout. Imai, who threw 29 pitches in the ninth inning alone, recorded a total of 138 pitches. The 152km fastball and the deciding ball slider showed their power. 

According to Japanese media such as ‘Sankei Sports’,메이저놀이터 after the game, Imai said, “I tried to go as far as I could, but I’m glad I shut out. Even after getting his first hit, there was no change of heart. He threw it with the thought of when he would get a hit,” he said. He was conscious of pitching even one inning longer,” he said. 

Imai, who joined Seibu as the first pick in the 2016 draft and gathered expectations as a prospect, is a fastball pitcher who threw up to 159 km, but did not grow as expected due to pitch hunting. Last year, he joined the first team only in July due to an adductor muscle and ankle injury. However, he showed remarkable growth with an average ERA of 2.41 with 5 wins and 1 loss in 9 games. This year, he is poised to explode his potential with 16 scoreless innings while winning both of his first two games of the season. His expectations are rising for his first 10-win season in his debut.

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