5 hits, 4 home runs and 5 RBIs vs. 1 hit, 0 home runs and 0 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, in a three-game midweek 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 hit a 147-kilometer-per-hour fastball high in the zone, and Okamoto took it over the left-field fence of Tokyo Dome.
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.
It was a do-or-die pitch, and he hit 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 victory 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 homers of the season. He followed that up with his 29th and 30th homers of the season on July 29-30.
He was silent for three straight games after hitting his 18th and 19th home runs against the Yokohama BayStars on Sunday. Murakami followed with two, but Okamoto blasted four to pull away. 꽁머니지급
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
Side-by-side, the two starred for Japan at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March. Okamoto played first base, Maki played second base, and Murakami played third base.