We’re back with another incredible week of NPB to share with you! Last time, we said that it would be hard to top the week that was… and it was hard, but we still have five really interesting stories for you!
5) After a couple of years of limited travel for teams, they are back playing countryside matches! On Tuesday, in fact, three games were played at ballparks that do not normally host NPB action. The SoftBank Hawks (11-5-1) hosted the Chiba Lotte Marines (8-9) in Nagasaki and lost 0-3. It was the third straight shutout of the Hawks, for the record. The Yomiuri Giants (13-7) played host to the Yokohama DeNA Baystars for two games in Naha (Okinawa), winning 10-4 and 4-3. The Baystars are still playing shorthanded due to Covid protocols and slugger Tyler Austin’s return to America for treatment on his elbow. Also, the Yakult Swallows (10-9) welcomed the Hiroshima Carp (12-6-1) to Matsuyama (Ehime) for a pair of games, which they split 3-1 and 1-5.
4) The Chunichi Dragons (10-7) have shown some offense this season for the first time in years. On Sunday, they pulverized Carp ace Masato Morishita, scoring eight runs on ten hits in two innings, and ultimately winning 10-4.
3) The two last-place teams are still struggling mightily but both recorded their first winning streaks of the season this past week. The Nippon-Ham Fighters (6-12) beat the Rakuten Eagles (10-3) on Sunday and the Seibu Lions (7-11-1) on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Hanshin Tigers (3-16-1) snapped their six-game losing streak on Friday with a 4-1 win over Tomoyuki Sugano and the Giants and beat them again on Saturday in Aaron Wilkerson’s NPB debut, 2-1.
2) There are still six (6) starting pitchers in the Pacific League with an ERA under one. Enny Romero (Marines) leads the way with his 0.45 and is followed by Kodai Senga (Hawks, 0.62), Takahisa Hayakawa (Eagles, 0.64), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Buffaloes, 0.82), Taisuke Yamaoka (Buffaloes, 0.92), and Ayumu Ishikawa (Marines, 0.99). Notice one key name that is not on this list? Not to worry. He is once again the story of the week…
1) Roki Sasaki threw the best game ever seen in professional baseball last weekend. The question was, how would he do his next time up? Prior to Sasaki, no pitcher who threw five or more innings in his mound after a perfect game gave up fewer than two runs. Only four of those got wins, while seven of them took the loss. Sasaki is a rule-breaker, though! Against the Fighters yesterday, he threw EIGHT MORE PERFECT INNINGS! He struck out 14 and needed just 102 pitches to get through those innings. Unfortunately, his team did not score either (thanks to Fighters’ pitcher Naoyuki Uwasawa), and manager Tadahito Iguchi pulled his ace. The game went to extra innings, and the Fighters managed just a single hit… but it was the game-winner, as Chusei Mannami slugged a low pitch over the right-center wall. The Marines lost on a day that could have been truly historical had Sasaki thrown a second straight perfecto. Perhaps we just have to wait a few more months (or starts) to see him do it. The sky truly is his limit.
You can count on us to report on his perfect streak (52 batters and counting) next week, too. See you then!