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Nippon Professional Baseball Roundup: A Weekend of Walk-Offs and Milestones

 Conor Liguori  |    Apr 8th, 2024 12:22pm EDT

Roki Sasaki of the Chiba Lotte Marines (NPB) throws in the 5th inning against Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks at Zozo Marine Stadium on May 5, 2023, in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Sports Nippon/Getty Images)

Rakuten Golden Eagles Walk-Off the Hawks

On Sunday, infielder Daichi Suzuki lined a clutch walk-off double down the right field line for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, securing a 3-2 win over the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.  

The 34-year-old NPB veteran was mobbed by his teammates in the infield, who poured water over him in celebration. 2024 is Suzuki’s 13th season in NPB. He played eight seasons with the Chiba Lotte Marines from 2012-19 and joined the Golden Eagles in 2020.  

Thanks to Suzuki’s walk-off double, Rakuten improved to 3-5, and Fukuoka dropped to 6-3 on the season.  


Swallows Norichika Aoki Moves Into Fifth Place All-Time in NPB Hits

Norichika Aoki, known as “Nori” by fans of Major League Baseball, surpassed Saitama Seibu Lions manager Kazuo Matsui on Saturday for fifth all-time in NPB hits with 2,706 between NPB and MLB.  

Aoki has 1,932 career hits in NPB in 15 seasons, with his rookie year coming with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in 2004. The 42-year-old outfielder is an eight-time NPB All-Star and a three-time Central League batting champion (2005, 2007, 2010).  

Aoki played six years in Major League Baseball from 2012-17 with the Milwaukee Brewers (2012-13), Kansas City Royals (2014), San Francisco Giants (2015), Seattle Mariners (2016), Houston Astros (2017), Toronto Blue Jays (2017), and New York Mets (2017).   

The lefty hit .285 with 33 home runs and 774 hits in 758 MLB games.  


Roki Sasaki Strikes Out Nine in His Second Start of Season

Chiba Lotte Marines star pitcher Roki Sasaki struck out nine hitters in a 5-2 win against the Orix Buffaloes on Sunday. Sasaki, who threw 111 pitches in the contest, allowed two earned runs and three hits in seven innings.  

The 22-year-old allowed one run in the first and second innings but settled down and retired 14 batters in a row after hitting a batter with one out in the third.  

“I was able to pitch comfortably after I got plenty of run support,” Sasaki told reporters after the game. “I didn’t change anything in particular after the first two innings.”  

Sasaki is now 1-0 on the mound this season after pitching to a no-decision in his first start. He has 16 strikeouts in 12 innings and has struck out 11.9 hitters per nine innings in his four-year career.  


NPB Final Scores from Sunday  

– Saitama Seibu Lions Defeat Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 11-1  

– Hiroshima Toyo Carp Defeat Chunichi Dragons 1-0  

– Chiba Lotte Marines Defeat Orix Buffaloes 3-2  

– Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles Defeat Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 3-2  

– Tokyo Yakult Swallows Defeat Hanshin Tigers 3-1  

– Yomiuri Giants Defeat Yokohama DeNA BayStars 3-0