Ja­panese base­ball fans re­act to Iwakuma’s no-hitter


Seat­tle Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma’s feat of be­com­ing the sec­ond Ja­pane­se­born pitcher af­ter Hideo Nomo to throw a no- hitter in the U. S. ma­jor leagues was splashed on the home pages of sports news­pa­pers and other media web­sites in his home coun­try, greet­ing peo­ple as they were wak­ing up Thurs­day.

“I wakuma achieves no­hit, no- run! Sec­ond Ja­panese pitcher af­ter Nomo in ’ 01,” the head­line of the lead story on the Sports Nip­pon news­pa­per web­site read.

Ja­panese base­ball fans keenly fol­low their play­ers in the U. S. ma­jor leagues, and game high­lights of their ex­ploits are a sta­ple of sports news broad­casts, and re­ported in the sports pages of news­pa­pers.

The re­ac­tion is a bit more muted, though, af­ter two decades of Ja­panese stars head­ing to the U. S.

“The na­tion went berserk when Nomo threw his two no- hit­ters,” said Robert Whit­ing, the au­thor of “You Gotta Have Wa,” a book about for­eign base­ball play­ers in Ja­pan. “Now, it’s been there done that.”

Iwakuma said through an in­ter­preter af­ter the fourth no­hit­ter in the ma­jor leagues this sea­son that he couldn’t find the right words to de­scribe his feel­ings. “I’m truly happy,” he said. Iwakuma be­came the first Amer­i­can League pitcher in nearly three years to throw a no- hitter, si­lenc­ing the Balti- more Ori­oles in the Mariners’ 3- 0 vic­tory on Wed­nes­day.

Iwakuma’s fa­ther- in- law, who used to coach on the pitcher’s team in Ja­pan, the Rakuten Ea­gles, was at the game.

“I was ex­cited to see ( fans) cheer­ing with a stand­ing ova­tion and get­ting ec­static each time he pitched in the last half of the game,” Koju Hiro­hashi said in a state­ment is­sued by the team. “Also, I was happy to be able to watch such a game in per­son. At the be­gin­ning, I felt his pitch­ing was a bit rough, but pow­er­ful. His fast­ball and slider were good. I hope he will con­tinue play­ing with­out any in­juries.”

Tal­ented but of­ten in­jured since ar­riv­ing from Ja­pan in 2012, the 34- year- old Iwakuma, a na­tive of Tokyo, didn’t over­power the Ori­oles.

In­stead, Iwakuma smartly used a bit­ing split­ter and pre­cise con­trol to throw the fourth in­di­vid­ual no- hitter in fran­chise history and be­come the old­est pitcher since Randy John­son in 2004 to throw a no- no.

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