Shintaro Fujinami's Scoreless Streak Powers Orioles To Postseason

Photo: Instagram/Shintaro Fujinami

Shintaro Fujinami showcased his pitching prowess once again as he delivered a scoreless two-thirds of an inning, contributing to the Baltimore Orioles' thrilling 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in an intense 11-inning showdown on Sunday.

The significance of this clash went beyond the final score, as both American League East contenders secured their coveted playoff berths, thanks to the Texas Rangers' defeat to the Cleveland Guardians. In a tense ninth inning, Fujinami, the resilient reliever, found himself in a tight spot with runners stationed on the corners and just one out, following a double, a walk, and a stolen base.

The game took a dramatic turn when Josh Lowe attempted to dash home on a Jonathan Aranda ground ball to first. Initially ruled safe, Lowe's fate changed with the outcome of a review at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Photo: Instagram/Shintaro Fujinami

The dramatics continued when Yennier Cano took over for Fujinami, promptly retiring the next batter. However, the Rays retaliated, as Adam Frazier's clutch double leveled the score in the bottom half of the inning.

Both teams managed to squeeze in a run each in the 10th, setting the stage for Cedric Mullins's game-deciding sacrifice fly in the 11th. This victory was monumental for the Orioles, marking their return to the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

Meanwhile, the Rays continued their impressive postseason streak, making it five consecutive years. Fujinami, reflecting on the momentous occasion, expressed his excitement, especially about the post-game champagne celebration, which was a novel experience for him compared to his time in Japan.

Fujinami's journey to this point was far from straightforward. In his debut MLB season, he faced early challenges while transitioning from a starter to a reliever during his time with the Oakland Athletics before being traded to the Orioles in July.

Nevertheless, he has been nothing short of exceptional in September, not allowing a single run over 7-1/3 innings across seven games. When asked about the possibility of both the Orioles and his former team, the Hanshin Tigers, clinching championship titles – the World Series and Japan Series, respectively – Fujinami couldn't hide his enthusiasm, saying, "That would be the best outcome."

His remarkable journey and contributions to the Orioles' playoff berth have undoubtedly left a lasting mark on the baseball world.

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Source: Kyodo News

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