Masashi Ito, 27, of the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, was denied a solo home run on the verge of a complete game shutout. Ito missed the “Maddux” (100-pitch complete game), but his third complete game of the season tied him for first in the league.
Ito took the mound against the Yakult Swallows on April 3 at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Japan.
Ito threw just 55 pitches through the sixth inning, allowing just two hits and no runs. In the seventh inning, he gave up a leadoff double to Soma Uchiyama, putting runners on first and third.
With the bases loaded, Ito struck out last year’s home run king Munetaka Murakami on an eight-pitch, 145-kilometer body fastball and got an infield grounder to end the inning.
Ito retired the side in order in the eighth, needing just 78 pitches. With a 7-0 lead, all the Maddux needed was a scoreless ninth inning.
Ito’s perfect game came to an end with one out in the ninth when he gave up a solo home run to pinch-hitter Yoshihiro Akahane over the left field fence.
He struck out Uchiyama on a wild pitch and gave up a single to left to Tetsuto Yamada. With two on and one out, he got Murakami to ground out to second base to end the game. It was his 90th pitch.
Hanshin jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning on a three-run homer by Teruaki Sato and a solo shot by Shota Morishita in the middle of the inning for a 7-1 victory.
Ito threw 90 pitches in nine innings, allowing one run on five hits and one walk with three strikeouts. His ninth win of the season. Tied for the league lead with his third complete game of the season. On Aug. 20 against Yokohama, he threw 114 pitches for a nine-inning complete game 안전놀이터.
Ito said after the game, “I gave up a home run at the end. It’s unfortunate, but I pitched well until the ninth inning,” Ito said after the game. Reflecting on the seventh inning, with runners on first and third, Ito said, “I felt like I was in trouble if I didn’t face Murakami. It was good that I attacked and got a strikeout.”
Ito had struggled against Murakami before the game, going 4-for-6 with a 2.02 ERA, but he held him to four hits and no walks on the day.
Ito, who joined Hanshin in 2021 after playing two years of professional baseball in JR East after graduating from college, immediately moved into the starting rotation in his rookie year, going 10-7 with a 2.44 ERA.
Last year, he appeared in 20 games, going 9-5 with a 2.63 ERA and tossing six complete games. While he did not complete a regulation inning, it was the most complete games in either league.