Knuckleballer Eri Yoshida, 18, became the first female to pitch in a U.S. professional contest since former indy leaguer Ila Borders, allowing 4 earned runs, 5 hits and a walk in the Chico Outlaws’ 8-6 defeat of the Tijuana Cimarrones. While the Golden League is best known to casual observers as the outfit that allowed the likes of Jose Canseco and Rickey Henderson to make their most recent pro appearances, Yoshida’s Saturday night outing sounds altogether respectable according to a report from the SF Chronicle’s Tom Fitzgerald. Or at the very least, more credible than last night’s efforts from Fernando Nieve and Oliver Perez.
Just a few weeks out of high school, Yoshida wasn’t dazzling but showed remarkable poise against a lineup dotted with former big-league players. She made 47 pitches, committed a balk, threw a wild pitch, didn’t strike out anybody and needed a couple of fine defensive plays to avert further damage.
She gave up a two-run homer to Juan Velasquez in the second inning.
“It was a knuckleball but it came in straight,” she said.
She gave up a bunt single to the first batter she faced, ex-Giants infielder Ivan Ochoa, a move that drew predictable hoots from the crowd. But Erold Andrus, the brother of Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, fouled out to the catcher. And Jackson Melian, whom the Yankees gave a $1.2 million signing bonus in 1996 but who hasn’t reached the big leagues, grounded into a double play.
Former Royals and Rockies infielder Kit Pellow, who flied out to left against Yoshida, said her knuckleball “wasn’t on” or moving a lot. “It was doing a lot of tumbling, but it was just slow,” he said.