CHIBA – Seibu right-hander Takayuki Kishi threw the first no-hitter of his career and the 89th in Nippon Professional Baseball history as the Lions defeated the Chiba Lotte Marines 2-0 on Friday night.
Kishi (3-2) struck out eight and walked one in a 117-pitch outing, and Naoto Watanabe had a two-run single for support as the Pacific League cellar-dwelling Lions snapped a two-game skid in the right-hander’s tour de force at QVC Marine Field.
“I never imagined that this would happen today,” said Kishi, who is in his eighth year. “I got some real good movement on my fastball. My change-up wasn’t actually so good, but it got better as I pitched.”
Seibu’s ace got rolling out of the gate early and never looked back. The only runner he allowed was a two-out walk to Tadahito Iguchi in the first. He then settled down to retire the next 25 batters he faced on a windy night in Chiba.
Kishi got Takashi Ogino to pop out on a 1-2 changeup in first-base foul territory to end it, pumping his fists high in the air as he was hugged by catcher Ginjiro Sumitani and congratulated by his teammates.
“There was rustling on the bench (about the no-hitter) around the seventh inning and I started to think it might be possible,” he said. “The fact that I could win a close ballgame like this in a tense atmosphere was a big plus. I just didn’t want to give up a homer or let a runner on (when I came out in the ninth). I just focused on getting the leadoff batter out.”
Kishi, who went 11-5 with a 3.08 ERA in 26 starts last season, said he was bothered by the windy conditions but gradually adjusted.
“The wind was playing havoc with my change-up, but after the first inning it got better little by little,” he said.
Kishi induced seven groundouts and 12 flyouts. He was the third pitcher in Seibu history to achieve the feat, last accomplished by former Lions manager Hisanobu Watanabe in 1996.
Seibu capitalized on Marines starter Yoshihisa Naruse’s early control issues to score two runs in the second inning.
The left-hander issued a leadoff walk to designated hitter Takeya Nakamura and after a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout looking to former Chicago Cubs infielder Cody Ransom, Naruse loaded the bases on a single by Sumitani and a free pass to No. 9 hitter Fumikazu Kimura.
Naoto Watanabe then grounded a single to right to drive in two runners to make it 2-0. Sumitani went 3-for-4 and scored a run.
The Marines appeared to have a chance to end Kishi’s no-no in the sixth, when No. 9 hitter Yoshifumi Okada was narrowly called out on a grounder to shortstop for the second out of the frame, but in a game of inches that’s all that counts.
Naruse (3-2) yielded two runs and five hits with six strikeouts and five walks in seven innings in the losing effort.
“I wasn’t pitching well tonight but I still was able to keep us in the game considering that I wasn’t that good. I ruined the game for us by allowing too many walks,” Naruse said.
Hawks 5, Eagles 2
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Fukuoka Softbank’s Tadashi Settsu (3-2) limited the damage to one run in seven innings in winning a duel against 2013 PL Rookie of the Year Takahiro Norimoto (3-3).
The Hawks’ Yuya Hasegawa had a two-run single that made it 2-0 in the fourth.
Fighters 4, Buffaloes 1
At Sapporo Dome, Naoyuki Uwasawa (4-1) pitched one-run ball over seven innings, and Haruki Nishikawa and Sho Nakata hit back-to-back homers off Chihiro Kaneko (2-2) as Hokkaido Nippon Ham downed PL leader Orix for its third straight win.