메이저사이트Munetaka Murakami of the Nippon Professional Baseball Yakult Swallows hit his first home run in 320 days.
Murakami was batting fourth and playing third base in the team’s game against Junichi at Jingu Stadium in Japan on 12 December. He hit two home runs to lead his team to an 8-5 comeback victory.
He didn’t get a hit until midway through the game. In the first inning, he was stranded at second base on a groundout to the second baseman. With a 3-2 lead in the third, he struck out swinging, and with the score tied 4-4 in the fifth, he led off with a single and was stranded on a wild pitch.
Trailing 4-5 in the sixth, he stepped to the plate with runners on second and third. He hit a walk-off three-run home run over the right field fence to win the game 7-5.
“I lost a run (in the top of the sixth inning) and wanted to get it right back, so I hit it with the mindset that I wanted to get it right back, and I was able to respond well to the ball that was high on the body,” Murakami said after the game. It was his first home run in 11 games and 39 at-bats since June 25 against Chunichi.
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It wasn’t over. Murakami also hit a solo home run over the right field fence in the eighth inning. It was his first two-homer game since May 13 against Junichi. The back-to-back home runs were his first in 320 days since 26 August last year against Yokohama.
Head coach Shingo Takatsu said, “Both home runs were beautiful home runs with high batting speed. They were typical Murakami home runs.”
According to Japanese media outlet Sportichi Annex, Murakami said in his postgame interview, “Before the game, I asked the escort kids in the starting lineup which team they were fans of, and they said Hanshin. I promised them that if I hit a home run today, I would support Yakult, and it feels good to hit a home run,” he said.
Murakami, who won three batting titles last year, including the record for most home runs in a season by a Japanese player (56), has struggled this season. He’s batting .233 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs. He is third in the league in home runs, sixth in RBIs and 27th in batting average. The back-to-back home runs will help him in the remaining four games of the first half.