Kazuma Okamoto, a fourth baseman for the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, has hit 40 home runs in his first full season. It’s a significant milestone on the way to his third home run title.
Okamoto started in the No. 4 spot in left field against the Chunichi Dragons at the Banterin Dome in Nagoya, Japan on April 15.
With two outs in the first inning, Okamoto struck out swinging on a 150-kilometer fastball from Junichi starter Leia Nakachi. With a 1-0 lead, in his second at-bat of the fourth inning, he took advantage of Nakachi’s first-pitch slider (132 km) for a solo home run over the left field fence.
It was his second straight game with a home run, following one against Hanshin the day before, and pushed him over the 40-homer plateau for the season.
Okamoto, who was a member of Japan’s winning team at the World Baseball Classic in March, hit just two homers in 24 games in April before exploding for nine in 24 games in May. In June, he led the league in home runs with seven. In August, he approached the 40-homer mark with 12 homers in 23 games.
Okamoto, who joined Yomiuri in 2015, established himself as a mainstay in 2018, his fourth year, and developed into a giant. Starting with 33 homers in 2018, he hit 30 homers in six straight years until last year. His personal best was 39 in 2021. On this day, he set a new record for most home runs in a single season.
Okamoto, a two-time home run champion in 2020 (31) and 2021, is a lock to win his third home run title this season. Murakami Munetaka (Yakult, 29), who set the record for most home runs in a season by a Japanese player last year (56), is second in the league in home runs. He is 11 behind Okamoto.
Okamoto added one RBI to give him 92 for the season. He is chasing his third 100-RBI season after 100 in 2018 and 113 in 2021. His RBIs are second in the league. The leader is Yokohama’s Shugo Maki with 96 RBIs.
Yomiuri followed Okamoto’s homer in the fourth inning with a back-to-back homer by Hayato Sakamoto, giving him 20 homers on the season. Sho Nakada also hit a solo home run to make it 4-0. Nakada followed up his four-run shot with a two-run shot in the sixth inning for his 15th home run of the season.
It was the third time this season that Yomiuri’s three mainstays – Okamoto, Sakamoto and Nakada – hit home runs in the same game, after May 31 against Chiba Lotte and June 16 against Rakuten.
Starting pitcher Shosei Togyo scattered three hits and struck out nine over eight innings to record his first win in 43 days. With their 11th win of the season, they moved into sole possession of second place in the Central League in wins. In first place is Yokohama’s Katsuki Azuma (14 wins). 토토사이트