Champs, beware on Baystars. A squad that was in last place as recently as late June is currently just four games behind… and it will be up to you this weekend to snap their 17-game home winning run!
The Yokohama DeNA Baystars finished last in the 2021 season, and despite their full of optimism in the spring, nobody took them seriously. Few fans and pundits were shocked when they fell to last place at the conclusion of interleague play in June. However, a 14-4 record in August and no home defeats since the end of June offer them a genuine hope at their first Central League championship since 1998. However, the Yakult Swallows are continuing to struggle, notably against the Chunichi Dragons, who defeated them twice over the weekend and now lead the season series 10 games to 8.
In terms of last place, the Dragons are currently just 1.5 games away from climbing out. Is the team on the verge of failing? The Yomiuri Giants, who have been swept by the Baystars and Hanshin Tigers this week, are on a six-game losing run. If they touch rock bottom between now and the end of the season, it would be the first time in 25 years that they have finished last after 100 games. For the record, the Giants have only ever finished last in a season once, in 1975.
Baystars MVP is on fire
Despite the Swallows’ recent terrible play, their MVP continues to put up stats beyond any we’ve seen in a generation or more. With a.327 average, 44 home runs, and 107 RBIs, Baystars Munetaka Murakami presently leads the Central League in all three Triple Crown categories. He could probably sit out the remainder of the season and still win the last two awards. In fact, if he doesn’t miss any more games this season, he’ll have 57 home runs in 142 games, which would be the second-highest total in NPB history.
Murakami, who is still just 22 years old, has the potential to break a slew of NPB records if he remains in Japan and continues to perform, but he has stated an interest in playing in MLB eventually. However, another NPB slugger hit an incredible milestone this week. Hideto Asamura of the Rakuten Eagles hit his 250th career home run against Chiba Lotte Marines ace Roki Sasaki on Friday night. After a lengthy slump, Asamura’s club is showing signs of life again, having won six of its last seven games. The Eagles are third in the standings, although they are just two games behind the first-place Saitama Seibu Lions.
Much of the Pacific League’s elite tier remains close, with the Orix Buffaloes downing the Lions on Friday night thanks to ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s complete game effort. They won two of three games to go within 2.5 games of the Lions. Meanwhile, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks swept the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters over the weekend, cutting the Lions’ advantage to half a game. The PL race promises to be exciting right up to the final week!
Lastly, in high-school baseball news, today marked the end of the annual Summer National Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium. For the first time in the tournament’s history (and even in the spring tournament’s existence), a club from the Tohoku area has won. Sendai Ikuei High School (Miyagi) won the championship by defeating Shimonoseki Kokusai (Yamaguchi) 8-1.
This was the 13th time a Tohoku team (Miyagi + Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Yamagata, and Fukushima) reached the finals. Yamaguchi’s sole national championship came in 1957, therefore both teams were hoping to create history. Regrettably, there can only be one winner… But it’s always a thrill to see those young guys play their guts out in Japan’s most renowned stadium!
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