“Because we made a tie…”
Rocky Sasaki of the Chiba Lotte Marines started on the 28th (Korean time) in an away match against the 2023 Nippon Professional Baseball Orix Buffaloes held at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan, and pitched 7 innings. He fought back with 106 pitches, 8 hits, 8 strikeouts, 3 runs, 3 runs (3 earned), but could not record a win or loss.
Sasaki’s pace this season has been phenomenal. Sasaki recorded 6 innings, 11 strikeouts and no runs in his first appearance of the season against the Nippon Ham Fighters, and then faced Japan’s ‘ace’ Yamamoto Yoshinobu (Orix) with 7 innings, 11 strikeouts and no runs, and earned his second win. In the game against the Softbank Hawks, he once again pitched 7 scoreless innings and won three consecutive victories.
In this game, there was a lot of interest in whether Sasaki could continue his scoreless streak. As a result, Sasaki’s scoreless flow was stopped. And he didn’t reap his victory because he didn’t have enough support from the batting line. However, on this day, Sasaki threw a total of 4 fastballs of up to 165 km, tying Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels) with the Japanese record for the highest speed. The Japanese record is 166 km by Thiago Vieira of the Yomiuri Giants in 2021.
Sasaki had already covered 165 km in the evaluation match prior to the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Group B group stage. However, since the evaluation match was not an official game at the time, the fast ball of 165 km that was thrown in the match against Orix that day was recorded in a page of history of Japanese professional baseball.
Pitching was not very good as he gave up 8 hits. From the start of the first inning, Sasaki was hit with a double by Yuma Mune, and in a crisis with two out and second base, Tomoya Mori struck a forkball with a 145km first pitch, giving him the first point. In the second inning, he did not concede a run, but Sasaki gave up consecutive hits to Frank Schwindel and Tongu Yuma, putting him in danger. However, he struck out all three subsequent batters and recorded a scoreless, first three-way offense in the third inning.
In the 4th episode, no luck followed. After getting a hit by lead batter Yutaro Sugimoto, Sasaki was hit by a ball hit by Tongu and an infield hit by Mawin Gonzalez, and faced the bases loaded crisis. Here, Tokumasa Chano’s ground ball hit Sasaki’s foot and bounced, leading to an infield hit, and all runners survived. And Sasaki gave up a sacrifice fly to Kurebayashi Kotaro and scored a total of 3 runs up to the 4th inning.
However, from the 5th inning, the pitching started to improve. Sasaki allowed a walk to Mori in the 5th inning, but finished the inning without any particular crisis, and marked the second tripartite of the day in the 6th inning. Although there were many pitches, Sasaki got on the mound in the 7th inning. Sasaki was shaken as he dedicated hits and balls that hit his body, but ended the inning without conceding and eventually created a quality start + (7 innings, 3 earned or less) game.
The most impressive thing about this game was Sasaki’s speed and ability to digest innings. Sasaki recorded a first pitch of 165km to Sugimoto in the 5th inning with 1 out and 1st base, the first pitch to Chano after 2 out in the 6th inning, the 2nd pitch to Nakagawa in the 7th inning with 1 out and 1st base, and the 3rd pitch to Mori in the 7th inning with 2 out and 1st and 2nd base. He showed off a total of 165km four times, including the ball that fit his body.메이저놀이터
According to Japan’s ‘Sponichi Annex’, when asked about the situation in which he threw 165 km, Sasaki replied calmly, “I made a tie, so I threw it with all my energy so as not to lose. I don’t think it’s accurate because speed varies depending on the measurement.” At the word ‘side by side with Ohtani’, he sparingly said “No, well, especially…”.
Manager Masato Yoshii was surprised by his ability to manage the game rather than restraint. The command tower added, “The changing ball was more unstable than usual. I thought the 6th inning was over, but it was fortunate that he endured until the 7th inning.”