The Yomiuri Giants coaching staff didn’t give Kazunari Sanematsu any instructions or signs during his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth inning.
All Giants manager Tatsunori Hara told him was, “Go get it.” So that’s what he did.
Sanematsu hit a sayonara single into left field off Hanshin Tigers reliever Kyuji Fujikawa to help the Giants come from behind for a 4-3 win in front of a crowd of 45,466 on Wednesday at Tokyo Dome.
“I was determined to win the game right then and decided to swing hard from the first pitch because Fujikawa is such a great pitcher,” Sanematsu said.
Sanematsu, who spent his first six professional seasons in the Pacific League with the Nippon Ham franchise, was facing Fujikawa for the first time.
“His pitches were fast, but I knew I had to come up with a hit,” Sanematsu said. “As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going to go through.”
The hit came in Sanematsu’s first at-bat of the season. The seldom-used catcher was playing in just his 27th game since joining the team in 2006.
“I’m happy to just get into a game,” Sanematsu said. “So to be the hero, for me, it’s extraordinary, especially here at home in front of all these fans.”
Giants slugger Alex Ramirez helped set up Sanematsu’s heroics with a game-tying infield RBI single in the eighth. Ramirez finished 1-for-4. Teammate Hayato Sakamoto drove in a pair of runs and was 2-for-4.
Michihiro Ogasawara was 1-for-3 for the Giants, leaving him one hit short of reaching 2,000 for his career.
Daisuke Ochi (1-0) retired all three batters he faced in one inning of work and earned the win in relief. Hanshin’s Ryo Watanabe (0-1) was charged with the loss.
Craig Brazell hit a two-run home run for the Tigers in the first inning, his second in as many days. Takahiro Arai also drove in a run in the first.
Whitesell leads Swallows
Josh Whitesell homered twice to drive in three runs as Central League-leading Tokyo Yakult Swallows edged the Chunichi Dragons to win their third game in a row, 4-3 on Wednesday at Jingu Stadium.
Yoshinori Sato (3-1) pitched eight innings of two-run ball. South Korean closer Lim Chang Yong became the 23rd pitcher in Japanese baseball history with 100 career saves.
BayStars 5, Carp 4
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Shuichi Murata broke a 4-4 tie with an RBI double in the eighth inning as Yokohama beat the hosts to snap a three-game losing streak.
Marines 8, Lions 2
At Seibu Dome, Ikuhiro Kiyota and Yoshifumi Okada drove in five runs between them, leading Chiba Lotte to a victory over Seibu.
Buffaloes 1, Fighters 0
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Hayato Terahara pitched his second shutout of the season as Orix handed Hokkaido Nippon Ham its first loss in five games. Terahara (2-2) scattered six hits and struck out seven.
Aarom Baldiris singled in the game’s only run in the fifth off Masaru Takeda (2-2).
Hawks 4, Eagles 2
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Hitoshi Tamura singled in two runs to cap a three-run first inning as Fukuoka Softbank defeated Tohoku Rakuten for its third consecutive victory.