The Giants had a grueling start in the second half of the pennant race after the All-Star Games, edging out the Hanshin Tigers 2-1 at Koshien Stadium on Monday night as Shinnosuke Abe’s single to left was the difference in a game filled with Yomiuri mistakes.
With the score tied 1-1 in the ninth inning, Yasuhiro Yamamoto singled to center and was replaced by pinch-runner Takahiro Suzuki. Hayoto Sakamoto hit a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop to put runners on first and second with no outs. However, the situation quickly transformed, leaving only a runner on second with two outs because of a bunt mistake by Hisayoshi Chono and baserunning blunder by Suzuki.
As the players on the Yomiuri bench were having doubts, it was Abe who turned the momentum.
“I changed my attitude and wanted to be ready, even while waiting for my turn,” Abe said. “I thought, ‘It’s time to go.’”
The veteran slugger made good contact on a 152-kph first-pitch fastball that was down and away from Hanshin reliever Rafael Dolis (3-3), sending a single between third and shortstop to bring the runner home from second.
Abe pumped his fist when he got to first and smiled at the Giants’ dugout.
“When momentum was with us, we [lost it because of] mistakes, but [Abe] helped us get it back,” Giants skipper Yoshinobu Takahashi said. “That’s what he does.”
Giants reliever Scott Mathieson (7-2) picked up a win, tossing a perfect eighth inning, and Hirokazu Sawamura earned his 24th save. Dolis suffered the loss.