Eri Yoshida: Female Knuckleballer Wins Professional Baseball Game

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Eri Yoshida: Female Knuckleballer Wins Professional Baseball Game

In case you missed it, on August 9th, Japanese knuckleballer Eri Yoshida won the first professional game by a female pitcher since Ila Borders won single games in the Northern League in each of the 1998 and 1999 seasons. 

Yoshida’s victory for the Maui Na Koa Ikaika (that’s quite a team name) came against the Edmonton Capitals in the North American Baseball League, the successor to last year’s Golden Baseball League.

Yoshida went five innings, allowing one earned run on four hits and three walks while striking out one as Maui went on to win 4-1.

Former Giants prospect and marginal major leaguer Todd Linden played in the game for Edmonton.  He went 0-for-3 with a walk, meaning that Yoshida must have gotten him out at least once and probably twice.

In fact, she got out of trouble in the first inning by picking off Linden at 1B.  Ouch!

I remember when Todd Linden hit .321 with 30 HRs in only 340 ABs for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies in 2005.  He’s only 31 this year, has about 500 major league at-bats under his belt, played professionally in Japan’s NBP the last two seasons (well in 2009, terribly in 2010) and is hitting a lusty .348 for the Capitals this year. 

At any rate, I’m impressed that Eri got a player of his caliber out.

In fact, Linden wasn’t the only former major league Yoshida stymied.  Former Colorodo Rockies catcher J.D. Closser (he had 447 major league ABs for them from 2004 to 2006) also went 0-for-3 in the game. He’s also 31 this year.

The Edmonton Capitals had two other former major leaguers (middle infielder Enrique Cruz and relief pitcher Jorge Vasquez) and four other players with Triple-A experience playing in the game.

Any way you slice it, what Yoshida accomplished is extremely impressive.  Obviously she’s still an incredible long-shot to even make it to the Double-A level, but at age 19, you never know.

Here’s a story from a Maui newspaper about the game.  Only 934 fans saw Yoshida make history in person.


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