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Guts lives up to name

by John E. Gibson (Nov 5, 2008)

Michihiro Ogasawara gave credence to the expression "No guts, no glory."

The slugger, nicknamed Guts, looked bad on a pair of Chikara Onodera pitches in the eighth inning, but even after falling behind in the count, the big-swinging Ogasawara helped splash water on the face of the Saitama Seibu Lions in a 6-4 Game 3 Japan Series win on Tuesday at Seibu Dome.

Ogasawara, who won MVP honors in the Pacific League in 2006 and in the Central League last season, got nailed on the left wrist and had to leave Game 2. He didn't take batting practice in Monday's workout, but wasn't about to miss a game.

And he didn't miss a 1-2 fastball that got too much of the plate, turning it around and sending it over the fence in right to pad Yomiuri's lead.

"I was behind in the count, but I wanted to make something happen," Ogasawara said of the shot, which came just when it looked like the Lions might be gaining some momentum.

"I wanted to keep my swing compact and go with the pitch and was able to really turn on it," said Ogasawara, who wouldn't comment on the amount of pain he's in--saying only, "I was able to play, so that's why I was in there."

Onodera had just worked a scoreless seventh inning--the only batter reaching on a blown call at first base--but Seibu skipper Hisanobu Watanabe's decision to leave the right-hander in to face Ogasawara in the eighth was a curious one.

The left-handed hitting Ogasawara has traditionally pounded righties, hitting .325 with 112 home runs in 1,429 at-bats since 2004.

"Onodera's pitches were looking good and [right-handed hitting Alex] Ramirez was on deck," Watanabe said. "I wanted to give Onodera that inning."

When asked why he didn't start the inning with left-hander Tomoki Hoshino, Watanabe said, "He'd faced him the other day."

A four-run seventh inning had gotten the Lions back to within a run and a scoreless eighth inning with heart of the Seibu order due up in the bottom of the frame in a one-run game seemed like the perfect setting for a Lions' comeback. But Guts helped the Giants win to take back home-field advantage with a 2-1 Series lead and guarantee they could not lose the series in Saitama.

"We're just focused on winning and I'm glad I could contribute," Ogasawara said. "We're really playing as a group."


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