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Chiba Lotte Marines RHP Roki Sasaki made history during his start last Sunday, throwing the first perfect game in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) since 1994.
So how did the 20-year-old Japanese phenom follow up his magical 19-strikeout performance? The answer is you head back out to the bump and throw another one. Well, kinda. This one won’t qualify as a perfect game, as Sasaki was pulled after eight perfect innings in the 1-0 loss to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters Sunday.
At the time of the call to the pen, Sasaki had amassed 14 strikeouts and was up to 102 pitches. Sasaki was reportedly still hitting 101 mph on the gun and had struck out the side in the eighth inning. Sasaki is now up to 17 straight perfect innings and hasn’t allowed an opposing hitter to get on base in 52 consecutive plate appearances.
In just four starts this season, Sasaki has a 1.16 ERA to go along with 56 strikeouts and has allowed just seven hits and two walks in 31 innings pitched.
“He [Sasaki] is just too tough,” said the Fighters’ Chusei Mannami, who hit the game-winning home run in the 10th inning. “The way that forkball drops? Forget about it.”
In other words, it looks like we have the next Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish or Masahiro Tanaka on our hands: a Japanese pitching sensation who will be highly sought after by MLB teams.
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