Daily Sports Smile: 20-year-old Japanese pitcher makes history with dazzling perfect game
Roki Sasaki, a 20-year-old pitcher in Japan's top professional baseball league, threw a perfect game and struck out 19 batters in a titanic performance Sunday.
Sasaki, who is in his second season for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), became the youngest pitcher in league history to accomplish the feat.
At one point during the game, Sasaki retired 13 consecutive batters via strikeout. Sasaki topped out at 102 mph with his fastball.
It took Sasaki just 105 pitches to retire all 27 batters he faced. Amassing 19 strikeouts requires a minimum of 57 pitches — not factoring in the other eight outs, balls, strikes and foul balls.
"This is the greatest," Sasaki told reporters after the game. "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 (catcher Ko) Matsukawa right until the end."
According to Major League Baseball, Sasaki posted a 1.84 ERA to go along with 87 strikeouts and 19 walks in 16 games last season, his first in NPB.
Only 23 perfect games have been thrown in MLB history. The record for strikeouts in a perfect game is 14, held by legendary Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax.