Japanese slugger Yuki Yanagita (35-SoftBank) delivers a game-winning hit, supported by teammate Lee Dae-ho (41).
SoftBank won the 2023 Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Chiba Lotte 6 to 5 on Sunday at the PayPal Dome in Fukuoka, Japan. With the score tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the 12th inning, Yanagita delivered the game-winning hit. 메이저놀이터
Lee Dae-ho, who led SoftBank to back-to-back Japan Series titles in 2014 and 2015, was at the stadium to cheer on his former teammates. He watched the game with his family and friends at the invitation of SoftBank.
SoftBank invited Lee to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the club’s founding and the 30th anniversary of the opening of the dome. Lee will throw out the ceremonial first pitch against Chiba Lotte on the 28th at the same venue.
Before the game, Lee visited the field to greet his former teammates. Yanagita was the first to run up to him and give him a 90-degree greeting. Yanagita, who joined SoftBank in 2011, has expressed his admiration for Lee, who played with him for two years from 2014-2015.
Lee’s performance in Japan was impressive. In 2014, he batted .325 with 19 home runs and 68 RBIs, and in 2015, he was on fire with a .282 batting average, 31 home runs, and 98 RBIs. In 2015, he became the first Korean to be named the Japan Series MVP (Most Valuable Player).
After Lee Dae-ho left the Japanese scene, Yanagita established himself as Japan’s signature hitter. In 1296 career games, he batted .351 (4534-for-1,428) with 246 home runs, 793 RBIs and 825 runs scored. This season, in 42 games, he is batting .326 (151-for-49) with eight home runs, 23 RBI and 21 runs scored. He ranks first in batting average, second in home runs, third in RBI, and fourth in runs scored.
When Yanagita took off his hat to say hello, his long hair fluttered, and Lee joked, “Why is your hair so long?” “Korean style,” Yanagita replied, causing laughter around them. There was no awkwardness between the two, who hadn’t seen each other for a long time.
The support from their respected seniors must have given them a huge boost. The game was a close affair that went into 12 extra innings and lasted nearly four hours. However, Lee Dae-ho stayed until the end to support his juniors.
Yanagita, who started in right field as the No. 4 hitter, went 3-for-6 with a home run, one RBI and two runs scored. In particular, he delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 12th inning of extra innings when the score was tied at 5-5.