For most of the season, Yomiuri Giants infielder Takayuki Terauchi has been the odd man out, relegated mostly to pinch-hitting, running and serving as a defensive replacement. So when he got a rare chance to step into the spotlight, he wasn’t about to let it slip away.
With his team in need of a big hit, Terauchi connected on a tiebreaking two-run double to give the Giants the lead in the bottom of the eighth, and this time the Kyojin held on to it for a 5-2 victory over the Hanshin Tigers on Thursday night at Tokyo Dome.
The seldom-used Terauchi, playing in only his 55th game of the season, got the full hero treatment after the game. He was on the postgame hero interview, and driven around the field on a golf cart after that, with the cheerleader at the wheel letting him know where they were headed so he could throw balls to Giants fans in the stands.
“I was pretty nervous, but I was also really happy,” Terauchi said of participating in the hero interview.
He made sure the Giants all went home happy as well.
Yomiuri trailed 2-0 until a home run from Hisayoshi Chono in the fifth and a sacrifice fly by Casey McGehee in the sixth evened the score.
It stayed that way until Terauchi came to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth.
“I stepped into the batter’s box feeling like I could hit anything,” Terauchi said.
What he hit was a 151-kph fastball from Tigers reliever Marcos Mateo that went into left field and allowed two runs to score. When Terauchi reached second, he turned to the Yomiuri bench and pumped his fist.
“I was just so happy to have contributed to the team, and when I saw my teammates on the bench, I wanted to show them a good guts pose,” Terauchi said. “I was just really happy.”
The Giants added an insurance run when Tigers shortstop Fumiya Hojo committed an error on a ball hit by Yoshiyuki Kamei.
Closer Arquimedes Caminero retired the side in order in the ninth to nail down the save, bouncing back after blowing a save in a 5-4 loss to Hanshin the night before.
“I’m a professional baseball player, this is what I do,” Caminero said. “I’m the closer, and every time I get out there I’m going to try to give my best.”
The save was Caminero’s 20th of the season, a new franchise record for a foreign pitcher in his first NPB season.
“I’m working as hard as I can. I’m going to try to get more,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity the Giants have given me.”
Despite the win, the Giants didn’t gain any ground in their pursuit of the third-place Yokohama BayStars in the Central League standings. The BayStars won their game over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6-1 to maintain their four-game lead over fourth-place Yomiuri.
Giants star Shinnosuke Abe finished 1-for-3 to move within three hits of 2,000 for his career. He may have missed the chance to do it at home, with the Giants scheduled to play their next six games on the road, beginning on Friday in Hiroshima.
“I think Abe-san is going to get there as soon as possible,” Terauchi said.
Scott Mathieson (3-2) earned the win in relief for Yomiuri. Mateo (6-4) took the loss.
Abe’s hit struck Tigers starter Randy Messenger in the right leg, causing the right-hander to leave the game after six-plus innings. Messenger, who didn’t factor into the decision, allowed a pair of runs and finished with six strikeouts and a walk.
Ryutaro Umeno got the Tigers on the board with an RBI single in the top of the second, and Shunsuke Fujisawa made it 2-0 with run-scoring hit later in the inning. That was all the offense Tigers could manage.
The Giants took two of three from the second-place Tigers and now head to Hiroshima for a showdown with the first-place Carp.
“We’ll also do our best in Hiroshima,” manager Yoshinobu Takahashi said.
In Other Games
BayStars 6, Swallows 1
Dragons 6, Carp 5
Hawks 6, Marines 5
Buffaloes 4, Lions 2
Fighters at Eagles — late
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