Just a week after he threw Japanese baseball’s first perfect game in 28 years, pitching sensation Roki Sasaki very nearly pulled off another.
On April 10, the 20-year-old Chiba Lotte Marines pitcher struck out 19 batters, tying the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) record, in an all-time great performance against the Orix Buffaloes. During that stretch, Sasaki struck out 13 batters in a row, setting a new NPB record.
Then, on Sunday, the wunderkind threw eight more perfect innings against the brilliantly named Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to strike out 14 batters, before being pulled by the Marines to reportedly protect his arm.
The Marines went on to lose 1-0 in 10 innings against the Ham Fighters.
Despite the loss, Sasaki has now thrown a remarkable 17 consecutive perfect innings and retired 52 straight batters, a new NPB record.
“He [Sasaki] is just too tough,” Ham Fighters’ game-winner Chusei Mannami told the Japan Times. “The way that forkball drops? Forget about it.”
Remember the name because it wouldn’t be beyond Sasaki to throw another perfect game this season – or to make his way to the MLB sometime in the near future.