Sasaki disappointed in first start, allowing 1 run on 7 hits in 5 innings, 159 mph

Roki Sasaki (22), the “monster pitcher” for the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball, was unable to get the win in his first game of the season despite pitching well. He pitched five innings of one-run ball on the final day of the opening three-game series against the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba Marine Stadium on March 31. He faced 21 batters and threw 95 pitches. He allowed six hits, walked one and struck out seven.

After breezing through the first and second innings, he ran into trouble in the third. With one out, he gave up back-to-back singles to No. 9 Ryohei Hosokawa and No. 1 Andrew Stevenson. A slider and fastball led to the hits. He then walked No. 3 Ko Matsumoto to load the bases.

He hit a line drive into center field. He struck out swinging at the third pitch, striking out Chusei Mannami. Fought off a full count with a 157-mile-per-hour fastball. He threw it high and away in the middle of the strike zone. He then got No. 4 Ariel Martinez to fly out to shortstop. This time, he threw a full-count, 90-mile-per-hour fastball for strikes.

In the fifth inning, with a 2-1 lead, he faced three hits. Tatsuki Mizuno, No. 8, and Hosokawa, No. 9, singled to put runners at first and third with no outs. Martinez, No. 1, singled to center field. The runner from third scored on the play.

Two batters later, he gave up a double to No. 2 Matsumoto up the middle, but struck out No. 3 Mannami again on a wild pitch. It was a 143-mile-per-hour forkball that landed low and away.

With a 2-1 lead, the bullpen gave up the game-winning run. Chiba Lotte lost 3-2 to finish the opening three-game series with a 1-2 record.

She overpowered her opponent with her fastball to get out of the jam. However, Sasaki was a little disappointed with his fastball. “I want my average velocity to be a little higher,” he told the Japanese media after the game. “I want to gradually improve my conditioning and we will try to be a full-fledged team by the end of the season.”

His fastball topped out at 159 kilometers per hour. Fans are accustomed to seeing Sasaki throw fastballs in the 160 mph range with ease.

Last year, Sasaki threw 165 kilometers, the fastest by a Japanese pitcher. He tied Shohei Ohtani’s record at Nippon Ham.

He has a lot to prove this season.

A first-round draft pick in 2020, Sasaki sat out his first year and 사설토토 pitched three years starting in 2021. In his three seasons as a starter, he never pitched full-time. In 2021 and 2022, he pitched a limited number of innings under club control.

Last year, after starting the season with Japan in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), he was unable to finish due to three injuries. He started 15 games and pitched 91 innings. He went 7-4 with a 1.80 ERA.

Fifth year. Sasaki is in talks with the organization to reach the major leagues after this season. If he is injured or struggles this year, it could be difficult for him to make it to the United States.


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