Yakult Swallows Munetaka Murakami, 23, activated his home run arsenal for the third consecutive season and moved one step closer to 30 home runs in five games.
Murakami went 1-for-4 with a double, one home run, one RBI and one run scored while starting at third base against the Hiroshima Toyokapp at Meiji-Jingu Baseball Stadium in Tokyo, Japan on April 12.
Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the third inning with the score tied 1-1, Murakami crushed an eight-pitch slider from Hiroshima starter Shogo Tamamura for a solo home run over the left field fence. It would prove to be the game-winning hit.
According to Japanese media outlet Daily Sports, “Murakami’s 27th home run of the season was the game-winner, giving Yakult the victory. With 187 career home runs, Murakami surpassed Kazuhiro Kiyohara’s record as a sixth-year high school senior.” Kiyohara is Japan’s all-time leading home run hitter with 525 career home runs. Murakami says, “He left a great legacy until he retired. I don’t think I’ve surpassed him yet,” Murakami said.
In 678 career games, Murakami batted .275 (2375-for-654) with 187 homers, 506 RBIs and a .964 OPS, and had his best season last season when he batted .301 (155-for-487) with 56 homers, 135 RBIs and a 1.168 OPS in 141 games. He won the Triple Crown and broke the record for most home runs by a Japanese player, surpassing Sadaharu Oh’s 55 in 1964.
This season, however, he hasn’t performed as well as expected. Through April, he struggled mightily, batting just 1-for-57 (13-for-83) with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 25 games. In May, however, he started to rebound, batting .251 (111-for-442) with 27 home runs, 76 RBI, and an OPS of .863 in 125 games. If he can hit three more homers, he’ll reach 30 homers for the third straight year, following 39 in 2021 and 56 in 2022.
While Murakami said, “I’ve been able to push it into my hitting spots,” he also said, “My goal was higher,” and expressed his disappointment with his struggles this season 바카라.