메이저놀이터Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB)’s ‘Living Legend’ Masahiro Tanaka (35, Rakuten Eagles) suffered the humiliation of being played in the least number of innings after returning to the Japanese stage.
Tanaka appeared as a starting pitcher in the away game against the Orix Buffaloes held at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Osaka, Japan on the 18th, and performed poorly, allowing 5 runs while allowing 7 hits, 1 strikeout, and 3 walks (2 walks, 1 out) in 2⅓ innings. As Rakuten lost 3-6, Tanaka recorded his 10th loss (7 wins) of the season.
It was the first time since returning to NPB in 2021 that Tanaka failed to complete three innings. Following his previous appearance against the Softbank Hawks on the 9th (5 runs in 6 innings), Tanaka allowed 5 runs in 2 consecutive games, and his season ERA soared to 5.09.
Tanaka got off to an uneasy start in the first inning, giving up a ball that hit Orix leadoff hitter Keita Nakagawa. Tanaka, who was in danger of losing second base and giving up a stolen base, grounded out second batter Masahiro Nishino and ended up on third base with one out. He then hit a timely double with an RBI from third batter Tomoya Mori and gave up the first run.
In the second inning, Tanaka faced an even bigger challenge. After one out, consecutive doubles were hit by Marwin Gonzales and Yutaro Sugimoto, giving up the second score. Tanaka, who was faced with the bases loaded with one out due to consecutive walks, induced a ground ball to first base against Nishino, but gave up the third run due to an error by Rakuten first baseman Toshiki Abe. Tanaka barely finished the inning after being doubled by Mori’s straight hit to third base with the bases loaded and one out.
Tanaka started the inning in good spirits, getting his first strikeout of the day against leadoff hitter Leandro Cedeño in the third inning. However, Tanaka was immediately in danger after being hit by Yuma Mune’s triple, and after that, he allowed three consecutive hits, giving up two more runs. In the end, Tanaka was kicked out on first and second base with one out and trailing 0-5. It was a consolation to Tanaka that Satoshi Miyamori, who took over the mound, finished the inning without giving up a run.
Tanaka, who recorded his 10th loss of the season with the loss on this day, suffered the humiliation of rising to first place with the most losses in the Pacific League. The average ERA (5.09) is the lowest among the 22 pitchers who filled the regulation innings not only in the Pacific League but also in the entire NPB. If you compare it with the 3.51 of Yasuhiro Ogawa (Yakult Swallows), the lowest ERA in the Central League, who has the second highest ERA after Tanaka, you can see how poor Tanaka is.
Tanaka, who returned to the Japanese stage after completing his major league career in 2021, recorded performance that fell somewhat short of his expectations with 4 wins, 9 losses, and an average ERA of 3.01 in his first year back. Last year, in his second year back, Tanaka, who ranked first in the entire NPB with the most losses with 9 wins, 12 losses, and an ERA of 3.31, eventually saw his annual salary decrease from 900 million yen (approximately 8.085 billion won) to 475 million yen (approximately 42 million won) ahead of this season. I suffered the humiliation of having my money cut in half to 67 million won.
Tanaka, who added 7 wins this season and recorded 119 wins in NPB, has 78 wins (46 losses, ERA 3.74) in the major leagues, and 197 wins in the U.S. and Japan. Although he is only three wins away from reaching his 200th win in the U.S. and Japan, it is not easy to achieve the milestone. Since the victory on August 26th (7 innings, 1 run), they have recorded only 2 losses in 3 games. A maximum of three starts is possible in the remaining schedule, but if the ups and downs continue, Tanaka’s achievement of 200 wins in the U.S. and Japan is likely to be delayed until next season.