The Japanese right-hander notched his 199th win with his strongest performance of the season in a 2-1 victory over the Athletics on Thursday. He allowed one run—a leadoff homer to Marco Scutaro in the eighth inning—and five hits, striking out seven in a season-high 7 1-3 innings.
The 36-year-old Nomo needs one more win for membership in the Meikyuakai, one of two Hall of Fame equivalents in Japanese baseball.
“I’m just glad our team was able to win,” Nomo said through an interpreter. “My career is not going to be over after I get to 200. I’ll keep pitching after my 200th win, and I just want to keep helping this team win. That’s what I’m focused on.”
There is the Japanese baseball Hall of Fame, which includes elected members, and the Meikyuakai, which is automatic for players with 2,000 career hits and pitchers with 200 victories.
The Meikyuakai currently has 44 members, 15 pitchers.
“It’s quite an honor, and I hope he gets it here (Tuesday),” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “He’s throwing good and worked hard. I think he’s ready to win a few more games.”
Nomo, who has 121 victories in 11 major league seasons, hadn’t won since beating Randy Johnson at Yankee Stadium on April 19. His other two wins this season are against the Athletics, improving to 5-1 with a 3.27 ERA in seven career starts against them.
The Devil Rays road woes continued with a 5-4 11-inning loss in the opener Monday.
Mark Kotsay drove in the winning run with a two-out single for the A’s, who rallied from a three-run deficit in the eighth to halt an eight-game skid.