You didn't think we'd get through the first slate of baseball games in 2020 without some extra innings tomfoolery did you? Of course as we crept towards the 2:00 AM hour on the East Coast, Liam Hendriks served up a game-tying solo shot to Jason Castro and sent the A's-Angels game to the 10th. There would be waiting Rob Manfred's newest creation: the automatic runner on 2nd base. It was honestly super entertaining and ended with the most nonchalant walk off grand slam you'll ever see.
So the way this works is whoever made out to end the previous inning for your team becomes the runner on 2nd to start the inning. For the Angels that was Shohei Ohtani. Joe Walsh came up as the pinch hitter and surprisingly swung away. I thought for sure he'd be bunting the guy over to 3rd and set up a sac fly situation since he's Joe Walsh. Nope, Maddon had him swinging away and it did not work out in his favor. Matt Olson scooped up Walsh's grounder to 1st and immediately fired across the diamond to Matt Chapman, getting Ohtani caught in a rundown. Absolutely brutal way to start extras if you're the Angels.
Can we talk about Chapman's scoop here for a second? I mean holy moly does he makes that play look easy. That ball could be sailing past him into foul territory resulting in Ohtani scoring the go ahead run. Instead he made it look routine. That my friends is not routine. That's why he's talked about as one of the best, if not the best, defensive third basemen in the league. Game saving play there that won't get talked about enough afterwards.
A single to right followed this play, but because of Ohtani being rundown it led to nothing. The A's eventually worked their way out of a bases loaded jam to walk away unscathed. Now it was their turn to have some fun.
The always adventurous Hansel Robles greeted Oakland and immediately plunked Laureano in the back. Jessica Mendoza was pleading for a bunt from the A's number 2 hitter who already had a homer and double in the game, naturally. I mean do you expect anything more from her at this point? You don't have that guy bunt with the winning run on second. Laureano is one of your best hitters. You let that man swing the lumber every time. Anyways he was hit by the pitch which set up a 1st and 2nd nobody out situation.
Robles would get Chapman to strike out, but allowed both runners to move up a base when he spiked a ball in the dirt to Khris Davis. Joe Maddon then brought in a fifth infielder rather than intentionally walking Davis.
Interesting move to say the least. Robles ended up walking Davis on his own because he had no concept of a strike zone this evening. Bases juiced one out for the super dangerous Matt Olson.
Maddon brought in a fella named Holby Milner to try and save the day. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but Holby's night did not last long, nor go well in any manner whatsoever. Milner delivered one pitch on Friday night and Matt Olson pissed on it. That one pitch was blasted into the night for a walk-off grand salami. Joe Maddon tried to do literally everything he could to save this game and Olson's response was going bridge for the walk-off slam on one pitch.
The over 8.5 hit as well as the A's runline on that swing. That's the beauty of these crazy extra innings rules - truly anything is possible. If you had the under you were sitting pretty with a 2-1 score entering the bottom of the 8th. Right about now you're probably sitting in bed wondering how this happened. Take it up with Rob Manfred. Someone went to bed early and is waking up a happy camper. Best feeling in the world.
Overall the new extra innings rule was crazy, a lot of fun, and made me think too much. It's also something I want no part of with the New York Yankees. So much fun watching from a third party view, but absolutely horrifying and mentally damaging if you're involved. Welcome to 2020 baseball. Let's see how Dallas handled the victory…
Got it. Still clinically insane.
I also had been wondering how walk off celebrations were gonna go this year with all the social distancing rules. Yeah, I don't think the players know how to handle it either. You win a game like that on a grand slam you do whatever you want in the moment.
Baseball is the best. Let's do it all again on Saturday.