Roki Sasaki of Japan struck Out 19 in the Perfect Game

Roki Sasaki’s perfect game is long overdue, the first of the Japanese majors since 1994. But the wait has been worth it. Sasaki defeated 19 of the 27 men he faced, completing what deserves to be described as one of the greatest games ever played.

The Chiba Lotte Marines ’6-0 win over the Orix Buffaloes on Sunday not only broke the Japanese record for strikeouts in a perfect game, but it also surpassed Matt Cain’s major league mark of 14 for the Giants. in 2012 and Sandy Koufax for the Dodgers in 1965.

Sasaki, 20, hit the third batter he encountered in the first inning, then hit the side in the second, third, fourth and fifth inning. 13 consecutive strikeouts is a Japanese baseball record. The corresponding Major League Baseball record for any game is 10 and is shared by Tom Seaver, Aaron Nola and Corbin Burnes.

It was the first complete game in Sasaki’s young career, and even with the long strikeout total it only required 105 pitches.

“The big thing now is to put the numbers first, to be able to throw strikes,” Sasaki told Kyodo News. “Now I want to do my best next time.”

He comforted Masataka Yoshida, the Buffalo’s designated hitter, three times. Yoshida only scored 26 times last season, the lowest total for regular players. “I was completely beaten,” he told The Asahi Shimbun. “No point of contact.”

Sure, young Sasaki benefited from a clever old catcher hand. Not exactly. His backstop, Ko Matsukawa, is just 18.

Major League Baseball has a complete lack of game of its own, albeit not as long as the 28 -year drought in Japan before Sasaki. There were nine perfect major games from 1998 to 2012, but none since.

Of course, the sticklers point out that Sasaki’s game could have been better: Eight guys avoided striking out.

University of North Texas softball pitcher Hope Trautwein edged 21 of 21 in last year’s NCAA game.

And in 1952, Ron Necciai killed 27 batters as a nine-inning no-hitter in the Class D minor leagues for the Bristol Twins against the Welch Miners. He also has a 24-strikeout game in the minors, but rotator cuff problems limit him to some major league games.

Last year, as a teenager, Sasaki made his debut in the Japanese majors with a 4-2 record and 1.84 ERA in 16 games. That and his 100-mile-an-hour fastball attracted American scouts, but it’s probably still a long time until he qualifies for MLB.

Due to an agreement between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball, Japanese players who sign up with a club there will not have access to free agency until they have nine years of professional service. Prior to that, players were subjected to a complex posting system, which brought with it a series of restrictions and built-in fees, as well as the international bonus pool, which put the amount to be spent on one. teams of players born outside the United States until they are 25 and have played six years in professional baseball.

Sasaki, in his second pro year, will have to wait.

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