At the top of the 10th inning of the A’s Opening Day game against the Angels on Friday night, before Oakland won 7-3 in walk-off grand slam fashion, something rare happened. Something so rare, it had never been done before.
Angels’ two-way star Shohei Ohtani was at second base after MLB’s new rule of extra-inning play was implemented for the first time. He would be the first player in the history of the game to do so, but the A’s were more than prepared.
Matt Olson snagged a hard-hit grounder off the bat of Angels pinch-hitter Jared Walsh and threw the ball across the diamond to Matt Chapman, who combined with Marcus Semien to trap Ohtani in a pickle before he eventually was tagged out.
The chemistry between Oly and Chappy shined through, but it didn’t necessarily mean they were planning for that specific moment.
“We talk about it a bunch, not necessarily for this scenario, but for the past, just different times, with a lefty up, guy on second, we feel like [Chapman]'s athletic enough to get over the bag and I feel like I have a good arm to get it across and maybe get an out,” Olson said in the postgame interview.
“Obviously going forward, if we get into extras this is something that’s going to be open -- luckily Chappy made a nice pick and they got the rundown done, but I think it was big.”
It certainly was.
This, of course, was before Olson’s walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the inning to defeat the Angels for the A's first victory of the season.
“He’s got a flair for the dramatic,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Olson.
Perhaps it wasn’t all flair. Olson had studied Angels’ pitcher Hoby Milner, who had come in to throw to Olson in place of Hansel Robles. Olson had visualized that pitch … and the rest is history. Literally.
Matt Olson is the first player to hit a walk-off grand slam on Opening Day since 1986.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) July 25, 2020