The pitcher who had a perfect march until the 7th inning was replaced after 84 pitches. Shoki Murakami (25), a right-hander pitcher for the Hanshin Tigers of the Nippon Professional Baseball, pitched for the rest of his life, but after being replaced during Perfect, his first win was also lost. 

Murakami started an away game against the 2023 Nippon Professional Baseball Yomiuri Giants held at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on the 12th, and caught 5 strikeouts in 7 innings and pitched perfectly with no hits and no errors. Although the ball was not fast, with a fastball speed of up to 148 km and an average of 140 km, he threw a mix of forkball, two-seam, and cutter, and hit every corner of the strike zone with a pinpoint ball. 

The Tokyo Dome was agitated by the perfect march of a rookie pitcher who had yet to win his first professional debut. However, in the top of the 8th inning when Hanshin was leading 1-0, with no runners and no runners, Akinobu Okada and Hanshin manager Akinobu Okada replaced Murakami with Fumihito Haraguchi as a pinch hitter. 

Even though Murakami had only 84 pitches, manager Okada made a bold decision to replace him. However, in the bottom of the 8th inning, Taichi Ishii came to the rescue and hit Kazuma Okamoto, the first batter, with a solo home run to left midfield on the first pitch, tying the game 1-1. Murakami’s first win requirement in his debut was blown away. 

Although Hanshin won 2-1 at the end of the 10th inning of overtime, controversy arose over manager Okada’s decision to replace the number of pitches that were perfect in 7 innings after 84 pitches. Coach Okada revealed that it was difficult to allow Murakami, who lacked experience, to challenge for a perfect game until the end in an unstable lead situation by one point. 

According to Japanese media such as ‘Daily Sports’, director Okada said, “I had a thought in my head that I could do it perfectly. He knew he was in good shape, but he didn’t know how to throw this well,” he said. “I didn’t think much about replacing it. If it was Roki Sasaki (Chiba Lotte), he would have kept throwing even 1-0, but Murakimi couldn’t keep throwing unless it was a 3-0 situation.”  스포츠토토

However, critic Takashi Nishimoto of ‘Nikkan Sports’, who was a special pitcher who won a total of 165 wins in Japanese professional baseball and also served as pitching coach for the Hanwha Eagles in the KBO League in 2015, criticized it. 

Nishimoto said, “Some people may think that substitution is natural for the team to win from a one-point lead. But maybe it was because I was a pitcher, but it was a hard-to-understand replacement. Immediately after the replacement, he hit a solo home run to tie the score. I went to overtime and won, but if I lost, it would have been the worst situation, and there could be great damage in future fights. If Murakami kept throwing and lost, it would have ended with a simple one loss, but there was no need to take that risk and replace it.” 

Murakami, who smiled even after being replaced, said, “I came to the dugout after the 7th inning and was notified of the replacement. I thought it was just a replacement without feeling anything,” he said. It was also good that he threw up to the 7th inning. He threw with the mindset of not letting out useless runners without being conscious of anything, and not letting out walks, which led to good results.” Regarding Ishii’s first win with a blown save, Murakami said, “It’s fortunate that the team didn’t lose. Ishii, who blocked three batters after hitting a home run, is amazing. I may cause trouble to Ishii in the future,” he said, not forgetting his consideration for his colleagues. 

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