Shohei Ohtani has been making an impact on games with the bat, his arm and his legs all season long, and the Athletics have experienced that first-hand.
In the A's 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night at Angel Stadium, Chris Bassitt and Sean Murphy did their best to keep Ohtani from changing the course of the game.
Bassitt retired Ohtani in their first two matchups Friday, but in the bottom of the sixth, the AL MVP candidate singled to center to leadoff the inning.
In 12 previous games against the A's this season, Ohtani was a perfect 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts.
With Bassitt trying to protect a 1-0 lead, Ohtani went for his fourth stolen base against Oakland this season. Unfortunately for the Angels' star, A's catcher Sean Murphy wasn't having it.
Murphy caught a pitch that was low and away from right-handed hitting Phil Gosselin, and fired a strike to second baseman Tony Kemp, who applied the tag.
"Huge," Bassitt told reporters on a video conference call after the win. "It still obviously was a one-run game at that point, so I knew he was going to try to push the action, so I was trying to give Murph a good time, which I've basically done a horrible job all year of. So I said I'm just going to keep slide-stepping here until he goes. I had a good feeling he was going to go and obviously Murph put a perfect throw on the bag."
If Ohtani had been successful, it would have set the Angels up to tie the game with a base hit. Instead, there was no one on base when Justin Upton singled with two outs. Max Stassi followed with another single, but Upton only advanced to second base.
"In games like that, every base counts," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters after the game. "Leadoff guy on, so a lot of things can happen as far as that goes. He's a terrific runner and had to make a perfect throw to do it. I don't know what the time was, but I know Bassitt is pretty good about his time to the plate. That was a great throw. One out, nobody on, feels like a big momentum change."
Bassitt struck out rookie Brandon Marsh to end the inning without any damage done despite allowing three singles.
Matt Chapman's solo homer in the eighth inning padded the A's lead, and the bullpen was able to shut the door on the Angels.
It's not often that a caught stealing midway through a game is the turning point in a 1-0 contest, but that was the case Friday night in the A's win.