Japanese pitcher Roki Sasaki looks to extend perfect streak

Jiji Press
The Chiba Lotte Marines’ Roki Sasaki pitches at Zozo Marine Stadium in Chiba on April 10.

TOKYO (AP) — Roki Sasaki, the 20-year-old Japanese pitcher with a 100 mph fastball and devastating splitter, will try for perfection again when he starts Sunday for the Chiba Lotte Marines against the Orix Buffaloes in Osaka.

Sasaki pitched a perfect game against Orix on April 10 — the first in Japan in 28 years — and followed up with eight more perfect innings on April 17 before he was pulled by manager Tadahito Iguchi after 102 pitches.

This means that Sasaki has pitched an unfathomable 17 consecutive perfect innings without allowing as baserunner. That’s 51 batters. If you add on the last out he got in his start before the perfect game, that’s 52.

Sasaki struck out 19 in the perfect game and added 14 in the eight-inning game, which is 33 of the 51 batters he faced in those two starts.

Sasaki beat Orix 6-0 in his perfect game.

The second game wound up as a 1-0 loss after Sasaki was pulled. The Nippon Ham Fighters won it with a home run in the 10th inning.

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