It looks like Shohei Ohtani’s (Los Angeles Angels) rival will win a major league championship ring before he does. Shintaro Fujinami (Baltimore Orioles), once the darling of the last-place team, has transformed himself into a must-win pitcher after being traded to the top team.
Fujinami pitched 1⅔ innings of scoreless relief against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts (USA) on April 10 to earn his seventh save of the 2023 Major League Baseball season. It was a valuable save in the team’s 13-12 victory.
Fujinami took the mound in the fifth inning with runners on first and second and a 7-6 lead. The pitching change worked. A double steal put runners on second and third, but he got Connor Wong to fly out to right field and Alex Verdugo to ground out to second to end the inning. It was a combination of splitters and sweepers on a fastball that topped out at 99.9 mph (160 km/h).
With a 9-6 lead, the sixth inning was a clean 15-pitch triple play. After retiring the first two batters, Rafael Devers and Justin Turner, he walked Triston Casas on a three-pitch foul tip. His fastball reached 100.5 mph (161 kilometers).
Fujinami was relieved by Jacob Webb in the seventh inning with a big 12-6 lead. He threw 24 pitches (15 for strikes). Baltimore went on to win 13-12, giving Fujinami his seventh win of the season in six games since August 26 against the Colorado Rockies.먹튀검증
Fujinami has been a rival of Ohtani’s since high school, when he threw a 160 mph fastball. After compiling a career record of 57-54 with a 3.41 ERA in 189 games for Japan’s Hanshin Tigers, Fujinami pursued a major league opportunity through the posting system after the 2022 season, and in January of this year, he signed a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the Oakland Athletics.
Fujinami was a bust for the A’s, who were in last place in the American League West. Despite possessing a 100 mph fastball, he struggled to adjust to the big leagues, going 5-8 with an 8.57 ERA in 34 games. In 49 1/3 innings, he walked 31 batters and had a WHIP of 1.66.
After being traded to first-place Baltimore on July 20, Fujinami used the move as a turning point in his career. As an Oriole, he went 2-0 with a 4.18 ERA in 22 games and was promoted to the winning rotation. In September, at the height of the division race, he went 1-0 with a 4.18 ERA in four starts, helping the team to a first-place finish in the East (90-51). Baltimore is 8-2 in its last 10 games and has extended its lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays to four games.
Fujinami’s transformation has also been recognized by the local media. “Fujinami has improved dramatically,” said MASN, the local Baltimore outlet. Seven of his last eight games have been scoreless, and he hasn’t walked a batter in 10 straight games. He’s finally proving why Baltimore traded for a pitcher with a sub-8 ERA.” “He’s adding a sharp splitter to his 101 mph megaton fastball and consistently finding the strike zone. There’s no doubt about it, he’s a force to be reckoned with.”
“Fujinami has the potential to be an important part of Baltimore’s bullpen,” said American pro sports fan columnist Fansided. He’s a pitcher with a lot of potential, though he’s still lacking stability. With closer Felix Batista currently sidelined, we’ll be looking to Fujinami to pitch effectively as a backup closer.”
Meanwhile, Ohtani, who has had a career that is unrivaled by Fujinami’s, has been benched for the last six games due to injury. Add to that the fact that the Angels are in fourth place in the West (66 wins and 77 losses), and they’re effectively out of the postseason. At this rate, a rival of Ohtani’s will likely win a World Series ring before he does.