Wednesday night was supposed to be a crowning achievement for Hiroki Kuroda, his 200th career win in top-flight pro ball. But the Chunichi Dragons were not having any of it in their home game in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.
“We didn’t want to be the ones he beat for his 200th win, so to Mr. Kuroda I want to say, ‘Please get it next week,'” Dragons captain Ryosuke Hirata said on the postgame hero podium after a 4-1 victory over the Central League-leading Carp.
Kuroda, who fell to 6-4 as he failed to win his third straight decision, allowed three runs, two earned, in six innings. He didn’t walk a batter but did strike out two.
“The bottom line is that when I left pitches up in the zone, they put good swings on them,” Kuroda said according to Kyodo News.
Until Kuroda reaches the milestone, Hideo Nomo remains the only Japanese pitcher to work in the majors and reach 200 wins.
“As a ballplayer, I’m not catching up with Mr. Nomo, but I might feel so if I look only at that number. To have come even a little closer to a great pitcher, then it makes me happy to have played baseball.”
On the same night, another veteran was also denied a place in the spotlight. The Yakult Swallows’ Shohei Tateyama, who returned to the mound last year after his third Tommy John surgery, started this season 0-2 before having his right elbow cleaned out with an arthroscope in April. He returned to the mound earlier than expected and was in line for his first win — until a 3-2 pitch to Elian Herrera was rocketed over the wall in Yokohama Stadium in the eighth inning.
The grand slam was Herrera’s first homer in Japan. Closer Yasuaki Yamasaki surrendered two runs in the ninth, but the DeNA BayStars held on for an 8-7 win over last year’s CL champions.