As ‘Monster’ Murakami watches from third base, Yomiuri No. 4 Okamoto hits four homers in two days to take seven-game lead
Five hits, four homers and five RBIs vs. one hit, zero homers and zero RBIs.
Yomiuri Giants No. 4 hitter Kazuma Okamoto (27) and Yakult Swallows No. 4 hitter Munetaka Murakami (23), two of Nippon Professional Baseball’s leading home run hitters, performed well in a midweek three-game series.
Yomiuri and Yakult at Tokyo Dome on March 3. Yomiuri won 2-1, with two home runs driving in two runs. The first and final home runs were hit by Okamoto. It was the second game in a row that he hit two home runs.
Tied 0-0 in the second inning, he led off with a walk. On a 2B2S pitch, Yakult left-hander Dillon Peters’ 147-kilometer-per-hour fastball was hit high and in the middle of the plate, and Okamoto took it over the left-field fence of Tokyo Dome.스포츠토토
After hitting a single up the middle in the fourth inning, Okamoto struck out swinging in the sixth.
With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth, the bases were loaded. In his fourth at-bat, Okamoto’s bat was sharp once again.
On a full count, opposing right-hander Noboru Shimizu dropped a forkball low to the body. He swung and missed.
The two stars of the victory against Yakult on the 3rd. Dogo (left), who pitched nine innings of one-run ball, and Okamoto, who hit two home runs, celebrate after the game. Photo credit: Yomiuri Giants SNS
Okamoto hits a one-run home run in the second and eighth innings against Yakult on March 3. Photo credit: Yomiuri Giants SNS
Dohan hit a fastball and sent it back over the left field fence.
Ace Shosei Dogo’s nine innings of one-run ball on 149 pitches and Okamoto’s two home runs lifted Yomiuri to a 2-1 win in the best-of-seven series. Yomiuri has won five of its last six games (1-1). They are tied for fourth place with the third-place Yokohama BayStars.
Murakami doubled in his first at-bat of the day in the second inning before reaching base on infield singles in the fourth and seventh innings. His final at-bat in the ninth inning was a walk.
Okamoto’s home run production accelerated. In Game 2, Okamoto hit a two-run homer in the first inning and a one-run shot in the fifth inning in a 9-2 win. It was the second straight game-winning home run, reaffirming the status of Yomiuri’s No. 4 hitter.
Murakami watched from third base as Okamoto hit his 23rd-26th home run of the season. He hit a three-run shot July 29-30.
Murakami (left) and Okamoto were the starting third and first basemen for Japan at the WBC. Photo credit: Japan National Baseball Team website
After hitting his 18th and 19th home runs against the Yokohama BayStars, he was silent for three consecutive games. He followed with two, but Okamoto blasted four to widen the gap.
Okamoto and Murakami are tied for the second Central League home run title in the last three years. Okamoto led the league in 2020 (31), Okamoto and Murakami tied for the lead in 2021 (39), and Murakami took the lead for the first time last year (56).
Okamoto hit 30 homers in five straight years, from 2018 to last year. A sixth straight 30-homer season is on the horizon. At this rate, he will surpass his single-season record of 39, set two years ago.
Behind Okamoto and Murakami, Shugo Maki (Yokohama) is in third place with 17 homers. Three lines
Murakami, Yakult’s No. 4 hitter. He hit 18-19 home runs against Yokohama on July 29-30. Photo credit: Yakult Swallows SNS
Suga and Okamoto were the mainstays for Japan at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March. Okamoto played first base, Maki played second base, and Murakami played third base.