‘KKKKKKKK+4 sand dunes’ Ishikawa gets 99th no-hitter in a day…second ‘feat’ after ‘ghost fork’
Following in the footsteps of Nippon Professional Baseball’s “fostering myth” Kodai Senga (New York Mets), Shuta Ishikawa (SoftBank Hawks) has accomplished the feat of a no-hitter.
Ishikawa started the 2023 Nippon Professional Baseball Seibu Lions home opener at the PayPay Dome in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, on Sept. 18, throwing 127 pitches for nine innings, striking out four batters (three walks and one hit) and walking none.
Ishikawa began his professional career after being selected by SoftBank in the first round of the 2013 Developmental Player Draft. It was a return to form for SoftBank’s “foresight” after selecting “Ghost Fork” Senga in the fourth round of the 2010 Developmental Draft.
Ishikawa first broke into the first team in 2017, going 8-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 34 appearances, and began to make a name for himself the following year, going 13-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 42 games. After splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen early in his career, he became a full-time starter in 2020, going 11-3 with a 2.42 ERA and establishing himself as SoftBank’s “one-two punch” alongside Senga.
However, his performance in the 2021 season was a bit disappointing. Ishikawa, who came up through the ranks and looked like he was going to be the next Senga, failed to make an impact in his debut, winning just 6 games (9 losses) in 2021 and 7 games (10 losses) in 2022. This year, he continued to struggle a bit, but he managed to make a mark in Nippon Professional Baseball history with a no-hitter.
Ishikawa gave up a walk to Mark Payton with the bases loaded in the first inning. He worked out of the inning with no further damage, however, and retired the next three batters in order in the second inning, Shuta Tonosaki, David McKinnon, and Kento Watanabe. He gave up a walk again in the third inning, this time with two outs.
Ishikawa retired the centerpiece lineup of Peyton-Nakamura-Takeya-Tonosaki in order in the fourth, his second triple play of the day, and then worked out of a jam in the fifth. He gave up his third walk of the day in the sixth, but continued to pitch a no-hitter, retired the side in order in the seventh with two groundouts and a strikeout, and then took the mound again in the eighth to retire Seibu’s bottom of the order in order with just three outs.
The biggest crisis came in the ninth inning. Ishikawa struck out Hiruma Takuya to lead off the ninth and was well on his way to a no-hitter, but he faltered when he gave up a hard-hit ball to Shota Hiranuma. But it was no stumbling block. Ishikawa struck out Manaya Nishikawa and then got Nakamura to ground out to first base to complete the no-hitter.
Ishikawa’s no-hitter is the 88th in Nippon Professional Baseball history and the 99th in the league. It was the second straight for a SoftBank player, following Nao Higashihama last year, and the first for a Pacific League player since Cody Pons (Seibu) on Aug. 27 last year. Ishikawa also became the second player in Nippon Professional Baseball history to accomplish the feat, following Senga in September 2019.
According to Japan’s Nikkan Sports, Ishikawa said, “I had a lot of luck, and I was able to throw well with the help of the fielders,” and when asked about the moment he achieved the no-hitter, he said, “I aim for a no-hitter every game, but when I got hit in the first inning, I couldn’t help but smile.” 먹튀검증
Ishikawa continued, “I struck out a lot, so I feel like I still have a long way to go. I’ll take the good with confidence and the bad with reflection,” he said, adding, “This moment is unforgettable. I want to thank the fans for being there. Your support has definitely given me strength. Thank you very much,” he said emphatically.
Seibu, on the other hand, was left with the entire record of humiliation. Seibu was the victim of three no-hitters in two years, the first time in 82 years since 1940-1941, as he fell victim to Higashihama on May 11, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Oryx Buffaloes) on June 18, and Ishikawa today.