It was a bittersweet day for Chihiro Kaneko and the Orix Buffaloes yesterday. Kaneko had no hit the Giants through nine innings, pitching brilliantly and striking out 11. The bad news, however, was that the Giants pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano had also pitched pretty well and the Buffaloes had failed to score any runs. Kaneko was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth but despite loading the bases, the Bufflaoes again failed to score so Kaneko would not factor in the decision. (Kind of funny that if this game had happened before this season, Kaneko wouldn't have been scheduled to bat in the bottom of the ninth because the DH rule would have been in effect. Of course, Kaneko had already thrown 144 pitches so he was unlikely to continue in the game anyway.)
But at least the Buffaloes could still win the game, right? Reliever Yoshihisa Hirano was able to keep the Giants hitless in the tenth, but Tatsuya Sato gave up a hit to Yasuyuki Kataoka in the eleventh. The Buffaloes loaded the bases again in the bottom of the eleventh - this time with only one out - but again failed to score. In the top of the twelfth, after giving up two DEEP fly ball outs to the first two batters in the inning, Takahiro Mahara gave up the first run in the game on a home run by Yoshiyuki Kamei. (Kamei being the last hope for the Giants that they could win the game as the game would have ended in a tie after 12 if neither team was leading.) That run would hold up as the Buffaloes went quietly in the bottom of the twelfth and the Giants won.
Watching the game yesterday morning, I thought of several other similar games, both ones with happy endings (Henderson Alvarez last September, Yutaka Enatsu in 1973) and not so happy (Harvey Haddix). Too bad for Kaneko that it was not a happy ending. Jason Coskrey's article on the game in the Japan Times mentions that several pitchers have taken a no hitter into extra innings before but it's not clear if any of them ended up losing the game.
Here's the box score of the game courtesy of Yakyu Baka and here's the game digest from Pacific-TV:
(BTW - Hell of a play by shortstop Ryoichi Adachi in the top of the ninth, snagging a line drive from Shinnosuke Abe for the last out while Kaneko was pitching. Not only saved a hit but probably saved a run as well.)
Here's a card of Kaneko from the 2006 BBM Buffaloes team set (#Bs12):