Baseball: Murakami Grand Slam lifts Yakult to DeNA. past

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Munetaka Murakami of the Yakult Swallows hits a home run in the first inning of a Central League game against DeNA BayStars on September 21, 2021 at Yokohama Stadium. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) – Munetaka Murakami demolished his first Grand Slam of the season on Tuesday, his 36th homer bringing the Yakult Swallows to a 5-2 win over DeNA BayStars in the Central League.

Yakult opened the game with three straight singles against DeNA starter Yuya Sakamoto (4-5), before Murakami pulled the breakball from the left in the first field over the right fence in Yokohama Stadium to take the decisive lead.

“I tried to land a goal from the first stroke. (The breaking ball) was not on my mind, but I was able to react well and it gave the best possible result,” said Murakami. “I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it.”

The cleanup set its personal highs of 36 home runs and 96 RBIs in 2019. Yomiuri Giants racket Kazuma Okamoto leads the CL in both categories this season with 37 homers and 100 RBIs.

“I want to get all the individual titles I can,” said Murakami, who was the youngest Nippon Professional baseball player to land 100 home runs on Sunday at the age of 21 years and seven months.

The previous record was held by the former star of the Seibu Lions and Yomiuri Giants, Kazuhiro Kiyohara.

Tyler Austin’s double with no out in the third run took two runs for DeNA, but Naomichi Nishiura prevailed in the sixth run for Yakult as the Swallows expanded their unbeaten run to seven games and won four.

Robert Suarez (5-3) took the win, allowing two runs over five innings with five hits and two walks, cutting three. Sakamoto was marked in loss after giving up four runs over two innings on seven hits.

At Vantelin Doma Nagoya, the CL-leading Hanshin Tigers defeated the Chunichi Dragons thanks to Seiya Kinami’s sacrificial flies 3-2 in the ninth inning and remain 1 1/2 games ahead of Yakult in second place.

At the Mazda Stadium, Hiroki Tokoda (4-3) had a six when the Hiroshima Carp defeated the Yomiuri Giants 2-0.


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