The new extra innings rule — in which a runner is placed on second base to begin the 10th inning — made its major league debut in last’s Angels-Athletics game. And it did not end the game in exactly the manner in which most folks expected it would. Rather than a sac bunt and a sac fly or a wild pitch or a single, it ended in a walkoff grand slam.
With the game tied at three after nine, the visiting Angels got first crack at the rule with Shohei Ohtani placed on second. That turned out poorly, when Jared Walsh grounded to first and Ohtani got caught between second and third in a rundown. A’s pitcher Burch Smith worked through some trouble but eventually got out if it with no runs scoring.
Marcus Semien began the bottom of the 10th on second base for Oakland. Angels pitcher Hansel Robles plunked leadoff batter Ramón Laureano, putting him on first and then struck out Matt Chapman. Robles then uncorked a wild pitch moving Semien to third and Laureano to second. Robles pitched to Khris Davis, but was probably giving him one of those quasi-intentional pitch-around-the-guy walks, putting him on first base in five pitches to load ’em up.
That brought up Matt Olson. Who only saw one pitch. He knew exactly what to do with it:
Even if it hung up in the cool Bay Area night air it would’ve been enough to score Semien on a sac fly, but the walkoff grand slam was a tad more dramatic.
The new extra innings rule will likely not, as some believe, result in a lot of intentional walks and bunts. But I doubt it will result in many walkoff grand slams either. Pretty neat that it did the first time, though.