20-year-old Japanese pitcher Roki Sasaki sets record in 19-strikeout perfect game

·2 min read

Baseball isn't just happening in the United States right now. It's also happening over in Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan's top baseball league (their MLB equivalent). And a young pitcher for the Chiba Lotte Marines just threw what might be the best professional game in history.

Roki Sasaki, who is just 20 years old, threw a perfect game against the Orix Buffaloes on Sunday, the 16th perfect game in NPB history and the first one in 28 years. His dominant performance tied the NPB record for the most strikeouts in a single game with 19, and set the record for consecutive strikeouts with 13. Oh, and he needed just 105 pitches to do it, serving up a fastball and a forkball that sailed past hitters going up to 102mph.

Here are all 19 of Sasaki's strikeouts against the Buffaloes. The first 13 strikeouts all came in a row.

Sasaki spoke to reporters after the game, and as all perfect game pitchers do, he praised his catcher, Ko Matsukawa, for guiding the way with his game calling.

"This is the greatest," Sasaki said after the game via ESPN. "Honestly, I wasn't thinking about the possibility [of a perfect game]. I figured it would be OK if I gave up a hit, so I just pitched and put my trust in Matsukawa right until the end."

Matsukawa, who is just 18 years old and a rookie, also had a hit and three RBIs in the game, which earned him even more praise. This time it came from Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi.

"This is not something everyone can go through, so it's a great experience," Iguchi told reporters via ESPN. "I have to give credit to Matsukawa for calling such a great game and doing a solid job with the bat as well. The two of them are quite a battery."

Japanese pitcher Roki Sasaki threw NBP's first perfect game in 28 years. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Japanese pitcher Roki Sasaki threw NBP's first perfect game in 28 years. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)