Shohei Ohtani

How Matt Olson, Matt Chapman were prepared for new MLB extra-inning rule

How Matt Olson, Matt Chapman were prepared for new MLB extra-inning rule

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.

[RELATED: What you might have missed in A's Opening Day win over Angels]

“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.

Watch Matt Olson hit historic grand slam to give A's 7-3 win vs. Angels

Watch Matt Olson hit historic grand slam to give A's 7-3 win vs. Angels

Matt Olson, Marcus Semien and the A's made MLB history Friday night.

In the first game in league history that went to extra innings since the new rule placing a runner at second base went into effect, Oakland came out on the winning end. 

Semien began the bottom of the 10th at second, and after Ramon Laureano was hit by a pitch and Matt Chapman struck out, a wild pitch allowed both A's runners to advance a base, placing the winning run on third.

After Khris Davis walked to load the bases, Matt Olson then blasted the first pitch he saw into the right field bleachers to give the A's a 7-3 walk-off victory.

Olson came up with a huge play in the top half of the inning, too. He fielded a hard-hit grounder by Jared Walsh and then made the heads-up throw across the diamond to Matt Chapman, who proceeded to catch Shohei Ohtani -- who began the inning at second -- in a rundown.

[RELATED: Davis, Kemp raise fist during anthem]

Quite the clutch season opener for Olson, who now is the answer to a trivia question.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Twitter reacts to Shohei Ohtani as first extra-innings ghost runner

Twitter reacts to Shohei Ohtani as first extra-innings ghost runner

Paging Shohei Ohtani. Please report to second base.

On Friday night, the Los Angeles Angels star made MLB history as the first "ghost runner." Except he had no idea he was the lucky player to start the 10th inning on second base.

In an attempt to keep games during the 2020 season from extending deep into the night, MLB implemented a rule for extra innings where teams start with a runner on second base. By rule, the batter who made the last out of the previous inning starts on second base.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

In this case, it was Ohtani. Good thing his teammates alerted him.

MLB Twitter had a lot of fun with the new rule and Ohtani's reaction.

[RELATED: Davis, Kemp raise fist during national anthem]

Ohtani's time as the first-ever "ghost runner" didn't last long as Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien caught him in a rundown and tagged him out.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, Marcus Semien served as the first A's "ghost runner" and scored on Matt Olson's walk-off grand slam to give the A's a 7-3 win on Opening Day.