I know a lot of people thought I was crazy when I said I thought Chunichi Dragons elder statesman Masa Yamamoto would reach 200 wins by his 43rd birthday on August 11th, but I believed in him and tonight he DID it!
(image from Mainichi / Yahoo sports)
The Giants got out to a quick 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Ogasawara's clean-shaven doppleganger, but then they would only have FOUR MORE runners over the course of the night as Masa pitched a COMPLETE GAME, striking out 7, walking 1, and allowing only that first-inning run. The Dragons tied it up 1-1 in the second on a solo home run by Tomas De la Rosa, had the go-ahead 2-1 run batted in by Norihiro Nakamura in the 3rd inning, and then Hirokazu Ibata hit a solo home run to lead off the 5th inning and knock Giants starter Hiroshi Kisanuki out of the game. Kazuhiro Wada singled in a run and another came in on a balk by Kentaro Nishimura (see? you are CURSED, Nishimura, ever since you broke Hichori), to make it 5-1 overall.
Masa even got a doage, how cool is that?
(image from Mainichi)
He is the 24th pitcher in NPB history to achieve this milestone. The 23rd, if you're curious, was another old lefty named Kimiyasu Kudoh, who did it in 2004. (In a weird coincidence, I got a Kudoh pinbadge out of the capsule machine down in Yokohama tonight.) It gives him automatic entry into the Meikyukai (the "Golden Players Club", not to be confused with the official Hall of Fame), which has membership requirements of 200 wins or 250 saves for pitchers.
Official Dragons site page about Masa's achievement
Mainichi photo retrospective of Masa's career, which is really awesome
My own Masa-heavy photo set from when the Dragons played in Chiba on June 4th
As for me, I spent yesterday in Sendai having a blast with the northern Fighters fans, and then went to Yokohama tonight to watch the Baystars actually win a game. More on both of those later.