Sheets has thrown 16 complete games in his career and said he steps onto the mound every time out expecting to pitch all nine innings. He knows not every pitch[er] has the same outlook.
“I’m not saying anything new, everybody knows the reason — you’re not brought up that way,” Sheets said. “In the Minors, pitch count is such a big thing. For the complete game, you have to trust enough to get your pitch count up somewhere around 115, 120.
“I think some people leave some of their better innings on the bench. Some guys are in really good grooves through seven, and get taken out when they could probably get through two more fairly easily. It no fault of anybody’s; it’s just baseball.”
It’s just baseball? No, it’s just baseball’s fault.
In the quarterfinal of that year’s Summer Koshien, Matsuzaka threw 250 pitches in 17 innings in a win over powerhouse PL Gakuen. (The previous day he had thrown a 148-pitch complete game shutout.) The next day though trailing 6-0 in the top of the eighth inning, the team miraculously won the game by scoring 7 runs in the last two innings (four in the eighth and three in the ninth). In that game he started in left field, but came in as a reliever in the ninth inning to record the win in 15 pitches. In the final, he threw a no-hitter, the second ever in a final. This performance garnered him the attention of many scouts.
Nomo left the Kintetsu Buffaloes after fighting openly with the team manager over demands that he pitch and practice more. He thus defied the hallowed tradition that Japanese baseball players must serve as uncomplaining samurais. That assumption dates from the early days, when the training regimen of the best team in the country was nicknamed “bloody urine,” because the players practiced so hard they urinated blood.