“I can’t put him in a pressure game”
Shintaro Fujinami of the Baltimore Orioles pitched one of his worst outings of the season in relief against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on March 3. He gave up one run (unearned) on three hits in ⅓ of an inning.
Fujinami signed a major league contract with the Oakland Athletics prior to this season, giving him his dream big league start. In recent years, Fujinami hasn’t had much success in Nippon Professional Baseball, but he managed to secure a not-insignificant $3.25 million contract, and he pitched well in exhibition games, raising expectations.
However, once the lid was lifted, the results were very disappointing. Fujinami pitched terribly in his first four starts of the season, failing to pick up a win, and even after switching to the bullpen, he was criticized for not being able to adjust to the major league level for a while.
It wasn’t until June that Fujinami started to turn things around. Fujinami rebounded with a 1-2 record and a 3.97 ERA in 10 appearances, and continued his momentum in July. He was traded to the Baltimore Orioles, who are currently in first place in the American League East. Moving from Oakland, where postseason play was a pipe dream, to Baltimore was certainly a positive.
However, the move to Baltimore has been a disappointing one for Fujinami. Fujinami got off to a shaky start in Baltimore, giving up a run in each of his first and second starts. He seemed to settle down in his next three outings, pitching scoreless innings, but then he blew it in Toronto on March 3.
Fujinami took over the baton from starter Grayson Rodriguez with runners on first and second in the sixth inning with the score tied 1-1, and he showed just how difficult it can be to get one out. Fujinami walked the first batter he faced, George Springer, to load the bases, and then gave up the go-ahead run to Matt Chapman on a wild pitch. 메이저놀이터
The bad pitching continued. Unable to settle down, Fujinami faced Danny Jansen with the bases loaded, and his 99.3 mph four-seam fastball struck Jansen’s hand for another pushout. Fujinami then induced a grounder to Dalton Basho at shortstop that appeared to end the inning, but a Jorge Mateo error allowed three more runs to score before he got Paul DeJongh to fly out straight to third base to end the inning.
Fujinami’s disappointing performance drew another round of local criticism, with MLB.com’s Keegan Mathieson of Toronto writing, “I was completely baffled by Baltimore’s decision to use Fujinami in such a crucial situation. It’s painful to watch,” he said, criticizing Fujinami’s pitching.
The media and fans also criticized the move. According to Japan’s Daily Sports, fans were outraged, saying, “As an Oakland fan, I can’t help but question the Baltimore front office’s judgment in allowing Fujinami to pitch in such an important game,” “Why did they use him in a 1-1 game,” “Fujinami shouldn’t be used in a high-pressure game,” and “Send him to Triple-A.”