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John E. Gibson

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Abe shines with weight on shoulders

by John E. Gibson (Nov 7, 2008)

TOKOROZAWA, Saitama--Yomiuri Giants captain Shinnosuke Abe deserved a big pat on the shoulder--his good one, that is.

The Giants were down a run after one inning in Game 5 of the Japan Series on Thursday at Seibu Dome and Abe blasted a solo homer to right to tie the score.

Yomiuri fell behind again and the designated hitter was there with a single to key a four-run seventh inning in a pivotal 7-3 victory that gave them a 3-2 Series advantage.

A little less than a month ago, the catcher wasn't even expected to play in the postseason. He injured his right shoulder in the Oct. 10 Central League-title clincher and the outlook was bleak.

Abe, though, worked through the soreness and inflammation to not only make the roster, but also show the coaching staff he could play and contribute.

In the No. 5 hole for Game 5, the veteran came up big in a situation the Giants couldn't have scripted better.

"I can't play in the field, but today I feel like I was finally able to contribute a little to the offense," said Abe, who will be limited to pinch-hitting duty when the Series resumes for Game 6 at Tokyo Dome on Saturday night.

Abe's single helped the Giants rally back from a manageable 2-1 deficit off Hideaki Wakui, who had allowed them just one hit over eight innings in Game 1.

Abe said the hit was all because of cleanup man Alex Ramirez's inspiring hustle. Ramirez battled back from two strikes down to work the count full before shooting a smash back through the box.

The ball bounced off the second-base bag and took a right turn toward the outfield as the Venezuelan power hitter stretched out his hamstrings and legged out a double.

Abe then grounded a single through the right side to score Ramirez and the flood gates were open.

"That hit was all due to Rami-chan. After watching his base running, there was no way I could go up there and not get do something," Abe said.

"He was all fired up and I just tried to follow his lead and keep the rally going."

The final two games are at the Big Egg, where the Giants have a chance to close out the Series for their 21st championship.

"We have two games left and you never know what can happen, so we want to concentrate and do our best."


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