The NPB home run king who regained his smile, Ohtani and the fearful left-handed line restarted

Japan Professional Baseball (NPB) best home run hitter Murakami Munetaka (Yakult Swallows) helped the team win by firing a signal to escape the slump in the 2nd round (quarterfinals) of the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) .

Murakami started as a fifth hitter and third baseman in the 2023 WBC quarterfinal match against Italy held at Tokyo Dome, Japan on the evening of the 16th, and contributed to Japan’s 9-3 victory by recording 2 hits, 1 RBI, 3 runs and 1 walk in 3 at-bats. .

Murakami stepped onto base with a walk from second base in the bottom of the third inning, when Japan led 1-0, and laid the foundation for a large number of runs. Japan was able to take a generous 4-0 lead with Okamoto’s three-run home run after Murakami’s walk.

Murakami turned the game completely into Japan with a long hit in the next at-bat. At the end of the 5th inning, when Japan was pursued 4-2, he hit a double with an RBI that exceeded the height of the center fielder at 1st and 2nd base safely, making the score 5-2. 

Murakami also showed off his unique long hitting power in the bottom of the 7th inning. With Japan leading 8-3, he went on base with a double and stepped on the home plate when Genda Shusuke hit just in time, indicating that his sense of hitting had fully recovered.

Murakami played as the 4th hitter in the first round matches against China, Korea, Australia and the Czech Republic. He hit 56 homers last year and set a new single-season home run record for NPB players in a single season.

However, Murakami fell into an extreme slump with 2 hits in 14 at-bats in 4 games in the first round. In the Korean game, he even committed an error in throwing when Kim Ha-seong’s ordinary infield grounder in the defense in the top of the 3rd inning gave an excuse for an additional run.

Murakami showed a strong side in international competitions, such as hitting a final solo home run against the United States in the final of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, but was not strong in the WBC, where he first appeared.

In the end, coach Hideki Kuriyama made the decision to appoint Yoshida, who was in good condition, as the 4th hitter and move Murakami to the 5th in the break away game. While still placing Murakami in the center of the batting line, trust was given, and at the same time, Murakami was considered to relieve the burden.

Murakami turned the bat vigorously in the 5th.메이저놀이터 Although he has yet to report his trademark home run, his two extra-long hits have moved him to Miami, the U.S., where the semifinals will be held. Murakami showed a bright smile during a conversation with Shohei Otani at the dugout during the game in the bottom of the 7th inning and seemed to have relieved his mind. 

Japan, who is aiming for a third WBC championship since the 2009 tournament, is also happy to see Murakami’s revival. While key hitters such as Shohei Ohtani, Yoshida, and Okamoto were showing off good hitting, even Murakami came back to life, giving the green light to the challenge to reach the top of this tournament.

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