No-hitters in the Major League’s are not the rarest thing to happen, but every so often, someone throws one that takes notice. Hasashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners hurled a no no against the Baltimore Orioles, in a 3-0 victory on Wednesday, August 12th. Iwakuma became only the second Japanese born pitcher to throw a no-hitter in MLB history, the first Japanese pitcher to throw one was Hideo Nomo of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Iwakuma, a 34 year old right hander, in his fourth season with the Mariners, also threw his first complete game. If you get a chance to see him pitch, you can’t help notice the unorthodox wind up that is unique in itself. His 6 foot t 3 inch frame stalls at the top of his delivery, then unhinges his knee a couple of times before he completes the wind up. Iwakuma, like Nomo showcases his split fingered fastball that is his strike out pitch. The key to his success, like most no hitters was the ability to get first pitch strikes. He then was able to mix his array pitches with consistent velocity and location.
Iwakuma’s no hitter was the 291st in MLB history and first this season in the American League. In fact, the last twelve no hitter s have been thrown in the National League. Just think, if the Designated Hitter was in the National league, we may never see another no-hitter. There have been five thrown this year in total which is above normal.
Iwakuma is part of a growing trend of pitchers coming over from the Far East. There are more position players from the Far East but like Latin America, the pitchers are coming over more and more. Teams are able to land seasoned veterans from other countries which can be financially risky but the reward is high as well. There is often a bidding war for some of these players, which inflates the cost for all the foreign players. Owners are always looking from the next Nomo, Yaseil Puig or the Ichiro Suzuki with the hope they are ready play at the MLB level.