Hideki Matsui found a way to fill at least one seat Monday in the Coliseum.
It was in the near-empty bleachers beyond right field, where he sent a first-pitch fastball for a game-winning home run.
"After today's performance, hopefully we'll have 100 more people coming to the game tomorrow," said Matsui, whose solo blast in the 10th capped the A's 5-4 comeback win over the Texas Rangers before a season-low crowd of 9,193.
If he keeps hitting home runs, Matsui will give fans a reason to return all summer, and wasn't that the A's sales pitch for this season, anyhow?
Up until one swing at this rare Monday matinee in Oakland, Matsui had not pumped up the heart of the A's order.
Up until that home run, he had gone 164 at-bats between home runs in The O.C. (aka the Oakland Coliseum/Overstock.com Coliseum).
"We know what he could bring," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We've seen him, unfortunately, on the other side beat us.
"He means a lot to our lineup in terms of his presence. Having a veteran presence in the lineup makes everyone around him comfortable."
And how's that working out for the A's, exactly? Only utility infielder Andy LaRoche has a batting average over .300.
Matsui entered Monday with a .245 batting average and two home runs. In batting practice, he sent only two pitches over the right-field wall, barely.
"As far as batting practice," Matsui said,
Neither do most A's in actual games. They are a power-challenged club that is led by its top-notch pitching staff.
But the A's got three home runs on a rare, non-holiday Monday matinee, solo shots also coming from Kurt Suzuki in the fourth and Josh Willingham in the eighth.
"When Josh hit the home run and we tied up the game, it became a must-win situation," Matsui said.
Matsui entered his final at-bat 0 for 4, having grounded out four times. His batting average resembled a light-hitting shortstop rather than a designated hitter with a home-run legacy that spans the globe.
"I don't know if today's at-bat will be a key to a turnaround. That remains to be seen," Matsui said. "I'm happy I was able to help my team."
That help came in the form of his 496th career home run -- combining his totals from 10 years in Japan and nine seasons in Major League Baseball.
He certainly hasn't forgotten those Japanese roots, especially after last month's devastating earthquake and tsunami.
"Hopefully through today's performance, it brought energy, hope and positive feelings to the people who were victims in Japan," Matsui said.
That answer came in response to a question posed by the 20-some Japanese media covering his every move.
Another off-the-field question was posed to Matsui: In light of his earlier stint with the New York Yankees, what was his reaction to Osama bin Laden's death?
"I don't think I'm in the place to really comment about that," Matsui responded.
Of all American sports venues that hosted games Monday, it's hard to imagine one as light on patriotism as the Coliseum. The national anthem came from a recorded version by Huey Lewis and The News. No chants of "USA! USA!" rang out, nor any rendition of "God Bless America."
But the crowd -- which looked about half of its announced 9,193 -- soaked up the sun while also rooting and heckling like any other fans across America.
The final celebration came at home plate, where Matsui got mobbed by teammates until Geren hunted him down for a hug.
"To have a game like this, and walk off in style like that, it helps in the standings, it helps psychologically and it helps in a lot of different ways," Geren said. "With Hideki's one swing, it put a great finish to the game and series."
For the A's sake, that ending better be the start of more heroics from Matsui and an offense that needs to break out more often.