Shintaro Fujinami (29-Baltimore Orioles), once considered the Japanese rival of Shohei Ohtani (29-LA Angels), unleashed a blinding fastball. He broke a Japanese record and took pride in it.
Fujinami took the mound in the top of the eighth inning with his team leading 2-0 in the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) interleague home game against the New York Mets at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, on Sunday (July 7).바카라사이트
Facing reigning home run king (2019) Pete Alonso as the first batter, Fujinami dominated from the outset with a 161.3-mile-per-hour fastball, eventually inducing a three-pitch strikeout. The next batter, DJ Stewart, also struck out on three pitches, using only his fastball.
However, the third pitch of Stewart’s at-bat was a bad one. According to MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, the pitch clocked in at a whopping 102.6 miles per hour (about 165.1 kilometers per hour). It was the fastest fastball Fujinami had thrown in the big leagues this year.
Fujinami didn’t just break his own record. He also surpassed the previous record holder for the fastest fastball by a Japanese pitcher, Ohtani. Ohtani, who came to the U.S. in 2018, set a personal major league record with a 101.4 mph (163.2 km/h) fastball off Kyle Tucker in the third inning of a game against Houston on September 11 last year. Fujinami surpassed Ohtani’s mark by nearly two miles.
Shintaro Fujinami pitches against the New York Mets on Sunday. /AFPBBNews=News1
Fujinami threw two strikes against Omar Narvaez in his outing, looking for his second career shutout (one inning, nine pitches, three strikeouts), but he would have to wait until next time as Narvaez took three pitches and retired on a grounder to shortstop.
On the day, Fujinami pitched a one-hit, two-strikeout perfect game, his first hold since joining Baltimore. With the 2-0 win, the Orioles became the first team in the American League to reach the 70-win plateau in a season.
According to Japanese outlet Nikkan Sports, Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said after the game, “In the previous game (against Toronto), my pitches didn’t work out. “I’m proud of him because he wanted to get back on the mound. He showed what kind of pitcher he is,” he said.
Including this game, Fujinami has appeared in eight games for Baltimore, posting a 3.12 ERA in 8⅔ innings pitched. That’s a far cry from his ERA in Oakland (8.57). He’s struck out 11 batters while allowing just a .133 batting average.
Shintaro Fujinami in Japan. /Photo: Hanshin Tigers website Galmuri
With a fastball that reached over 150 kilometers per hour in high school, Fujinami was recognized as an ultra-high school pitcher alongside Otani. After winning 10 games in his first year as a professional (2013), he was selected to the 2015 WBSC Premier 12 squad with 14 wins and a 2.40 ERA in the 2015 season. However, after 2017, he struggled with his pitches and injuries, and last year he had a mediocre 3-5 record with a 3.38 ERA in 16 games. In 2020, he became known as the “Ugly Duckling” for his inappropriate behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Oakland saw potential in the pitcher and made a bold offer to Fujinami. He was thrust into the opening day rotation with a weak starting staff, but he struggled to a 14.40 ERA in four starts in April. This was largely due to a breakdown in his pitches, as he walked 15 batters in 15 innings.
Eventually dropped from the starting rotation, Fujinami also struggled early in his stint on the mound. But he settled into his new role, posting a 3.26 ERA with two holds in 17 games since June. Eventually, Baltimore, looking to make the postseason, acquired him in a trade on March 20.
In Baltimore, Fujinami allowed 5.2 walks per nine innings, not much different from his Oakland days (5.5). However, he has cut down his pitch count by nearly three per inning (18.2 in Oakland to 15.6 in Baltimore) and has been able to get hitters out with his aggressiveness.