Yokohama – Tokyo Yakult Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa threw the first no-hitter of the season on Saturday and the first of his career in a 9-0 Central League win over the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.
Ogawa's gem was the 93rd no-hitter in the history of Japanese pro baseball, and the 30-year-old became the 82nd player to accomplish the feat. Unlike in the major leagues, a no-hitter is not awarded by NPB unless the pitcher also throws a shutout.
"Last time I had a very frustrating outing, so I was keen to make up for that," said Ogawa (5-2) who surrendered four runs in five innings in a loss to the BayStars one week earlier. "My catcher (Akihisa) Nishida called a confident game. My fastball was strong and the fielders caught the balls behind me, so I was able to make a go of it."
"I first thought about it around the fifth inning. I know it's not an easy feat, so I just focused on each hitter and on maintaining my rhythm."
Ogawa struck out 10, notching the final one with his 129th pitch to end the game. He walked three batters. One reached on an error, when a line drive spilled out of right fielder Taiki Hamada's glove in the second inning, while a second got on base when second baseman Taishi Hirooka dropped a throw in the eighth inning.
That error ruined a potential double play after Ogawa had walked the leadoff hitter, and with his pitch count climbing put his no-hit bid in jeopardy. But he retired the final six batters with relative ease.
The Swallows opened the scoring in the third against BayStars ace Shota Imanaga (5-3) on back-to-back one-out RBI doubles by Tetsuto Yamada and Norichika Aoki.
Imanaga allowed six runs, three earned, over 3⅓ innings on six hits and three walks while striking out three.
BayStars manager Alex Ramirez, who began his career in Japan with the Swallows, tipped his cap to Ogawa afterward.
"He was on the whole night, from the first inning right until the end," Ramirez said. "They scored six runs by the fourth inning. He got better after that."