Shintaro Fujinami (29, Oakland Athletics메이저놀이터) has finally lived up to the name of “Otani Rival”.
Fujinami started in the 2023 Major League (MLB) home game against the New York Mets held at the Oakland Coliseum in California on the 16th (Korean time), recording 6 innings, 4 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts and 3 runs. He made his first quality start since his MLB debut (3 earned runs or less in 6 innings), but the team lost 2-3 instead of winning. Fujinami’s season average ERA was 11.37, lower than the previous one (17.55), but he could not break his losing streak with 3 losses in 3 games.
Fujinami was a promising player who, along with Ohtani, was considered one of the youth national team’s one-two punches during high school. At the time of his rookie nomination, he was even more popular than Ohtani, who had announced that he would advance to the MLB early on. However, after he joined the pro, the difference in skills gradually widened, and Ohtani, who joined the Nippon Ham Fighters on the premise of advancing to the MLB, first moved to the United States and won the Rookie of the Year and MVP, reaching the peak. On the other hand, Fujinami, who had been hesitant, came to the United States only this season after signing a one-year contract with Oakland.
It was not easy for him to adapt to the United States, where he came to difficult times. Fujinami made his debut on the last 2 days, but was greatly demolished by Ohtani’s LA Angels with 5 hits, 3 walks and 8 runs in 2 and 1/3 innings. Subsequently, even before the Tampa Bay race on the 9th, he failed to fill 5 innings with 3 hits, 4 walks and 5 runs in 4 and 1/3 innings.
It was only after three games that he finally showed pitching worthy of a starting pitcher. The fastball was still in good shape with a maximum speed of 158 km/h. Of course, the content of pitching remained the same. In the first inning, Fujinami was hit with a double by Francisco Lindor, but got off with two strikeouts from the front and back, including two strikeouts. Then, in the beginning of the second inning, he struck out once and made a tripartite offense.
The starting point was Auckland. In the bottom of the second inning, lead batter Ramon Loreano’s left-handed hit, Aledmis Diaz’s double from the left, Conor Capel’s grounder, Carlos Perez’s sand ball, and Esteuri Ruiz’s timely hit led Oakland to two runs. However, it was a somewhat frustrating flow considering that he created a chance to load the bases with one out after the first score.
The Mets followed up stride afterward. The Mets followed up with a run in the top of the fourth inning when Pete Alonso hit a solo home run in a one-out situation. Then, in the 7th inning, when the situation was 2-1, Fujinami, who was blocking 6 innings with 1 run, climbed the mound again. However, lead batter Mark Kanha turned the game around with a left-handed solo throw, and follow-up hitter Daniel Vogelbeck also walked and put pressure on Fujinami.
Vogelbeck’s on-base performance eventually decided the win or loss on the day. Oakland shredded Fujinami and put up Trevor May, but it wasn’t enough. After giving up base runner Tim Locastro for steals, he set up Luis Guillermo and Francisco Alvarez for batting. However, Brandon Nemo eventually hit a double and allowed a run, which became the final point and led to the Mets’ victory. Fujinami, who allowed Vogelbaek to go on base, also took on the loss with an increase in earned runs.