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Japanese ace loses perfect streak on 1st pitch

Written by 
Published in Baseball
Sunday, 24 April 2022 05:36

Japanese pitcher Roki Sasaki of the Chiba Lotte Marines is mortal after all.

After throwing a perfect game April 10 -- the first in Japanese baseball in 28 years -- and eight perfect innings April 17 before being pulled after 102 pitches, Sasaki gave up a hit on his first pitch Sunday against the Orix Buffaloes.

The game was played at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka.

Shuhei Fukuda hit Sasaki's first pitch, which ended a streak of 52 batters retired. Sasaki retired 27 in the perfect game, 24 in the eight-inning outing and the last batter he faced prior to the perfect game.

In the perfect game and the eight innings of perfection, Sasaki had 33 strikeouts against 51 batters. The 20-year-old right-hander uses a 100 mph fastball and a wicked splitter to keep batters off balance.

Sasaki worked five innings Sunday in Chiba Lotte's 6-3 win and was credited with the victory. He allowed two earned runs, walked three, hit two batters and gave up six hits. He had four strikeouts.

Through five starts this season, Sasaki has struck out 60 while allowing 13 hits and five walks in 36 innings.

Reports in Japan say Sasaki is unlikely to be posted for MLB clubs. Players don't need to go through the posting system if they have run up enough time in Japanese baseball to become free agents.

Sasaki reportedly had drawn widespread interest from MLB teams as a high school pitcher thanks to his high velocity before signing with Chiba Lotte in 2020 at age 18. But reports in Japan say Sasaki is unlikely to be posted for MLB clubs in the near future.

He grew up in the northeastern Japanese prefecture of Iwate. His father was killed in the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent meltdown of three nuclear reactors that devastated that part of the country.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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