Yakult Swallows Munetaka Murakami (23) hit a home run in extra innings to spark a comeback.
Murakami went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double메이저놀이터, a home run, two RBIs, two runs scored and a walk while starting at third base against the Hanshin Tigers at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, Japan on April 25. Yakult lost the game 4-7 in extra innings.
Yakult’s fate was sealed when they gave up four runs in the top of the 10th inning. But Murakami refused to give up and hit a solo home run. It was his eighth home run of the season. As the Japanese outlet Tokyo Sports put it, “Down by four runs and in a defeatist mood, there were no runners on base. Murakami stepped to the plate in the fifth inning and pulled an eight-pitch slider from Yuta Iwasada to perfection, sending it into the top of the right-field bleachers.”
After batting .301 (155-for-487) with 56 homers, 134 RBIs and a 1.168 OPS in 141 games last season to become the most prolific Japanese player ever and win the Triple Crown, Murakami hasn’t had a fraction of the impact he had last year, batting .222 (35-for-157) with eight homers, 26 RBIs and a .767 OPS in 44 games this season. In May, however, he has come alive, hitting .297 (22-for-74) with six homers, 14 RBIs, and a .983 OPS in 19 games.
Despite Murakami’s home run, the Yakult lost in extra innings and dropped their seventh straight game. It’s their longest losing streak of the season. Murakami wasn’t smiling after his home run because his team was still losing. “There were no smiles because the score was still three runs down, but Murakami gave them a shot that could carry over into tomorrow,” Tokyo Sports wrote.
Murakami said, “I went to bat with a lot of focus because I have fans who support me until the end. We’re leaving for an away game, but we’ll do our best to win,” he said after the game.