A belated spark.
Yakult Swallows “monster hitter” Munetaka Murakami (23) has homered in two straight games. Batting fourth and third against the Junichi Dragons at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo on Wednesday, he fired up the cannon for his 15th of the season, giving him three homers in his last two games.
Batting second in the bottom of the fourth inning with the score 1-2. He led off with a walk and faced Chunichi left-hander Shinnosuke Ogasawara. On a 2B2S pitch count, Murakami pushed a knuckleball down the outside, low-course and sent it over the left-center field fence and into the stands.
The next three batters were retired on strikes. In the first inning, he grounded out to the second baseman, and in the sixth, he struck out with two outs. In the bottom of the ninth, he grounded out to shortstop.
Despite Murakami’s game-winning home run, Yakult lost 2-4. Chunichi shut down the center field lineup
He didn’t. He gave up a run-scoring single to No. 5 Shingo Usami in the sixth inning and a single to No. 4 Takaya Ishikawa in the eighth.
Murakami had two home runs and four RBIs in the previous day’s game (Dec. 12). He hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning and a one-run shot in the eighth. They contributed to an 8-5 comeback win.
Yakult, which was aiming for a third straight title, remains in fifth place out of six teams in the Central League. The loss to last-place Junichi cut their lead to 0.5 games. After two consecutive seasons at the top, the team is in danger of falling to the bottom.
The decline of Murakami, the No. 4 hitter who has been the centerpiece of the team’s success for two consecutive seasons, has been painful. The top hitter, who hit 56 home runs last year and set a new Japanese record for most home runs in a season, is struggling. He hasn’t been able to break out of his double-digit batting average since the beginning of the season. I was excited to see him hit his first home run in the opening game, but he didn’t have the same explosive power as last year.바카라
It’s not showing.
Through 13 days and 80 games, he’s batting .279 (65-for-279) with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs. That’s a far cry from last season.
Last year, Murakami batted .301 (155-for-487) with 56 homers and 134 RBIs, becoming the youngest player to win three batting titles. He posted an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of 1.168. Became the first player in the world to hit a home run in five consecutive at-bats.
Has slowly rebounded since April, when he hit rock bottom, but still has a long way to go. There was some speculation that his early season slump was a hangover from the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
His three home runs in two days tied him for third in the Central League. Yomiuri Zai, a senior on the WBC team
Kazumi Okamoto (27) of the Untsu No. 4 is first (20) and Shugo Maki (25) of the Yokohama BayStars is second (16).