OAKLAND, Calif. – The first big league game with an automatic runner in extra innings was decided with a blast rather than a bunt.
Marcus Semien began the bottom of the 10th on second base under the new, unpopular rule and scored on Matt Olson's grand slam, sending the Oakland Athletics over the Los Angeles Angels 7-3 on Friday night.
Olson, whose alert throw from first base nailed Angels free runner Shohei Ohtani in the top of the 10th, connected with one out. The A's gathered around home plate to greet him on opening night.
“It definitely is interesting. There’s going to be more excitement,” Olson said. “I think it would be a lot tougher to go to 17- or 18-inning games with a guy on second. You’d think at some point somebody’s probably going to get a knock.”
Major League Baseball instituted the controversial extra-inning runner rule for this season to keep games from dragging on amid a compressed, 60-game schedule that started following a months-long delay because of the virus outbreak.
Ohtani, who'd struck out to end the Angels ninth, wasn’t quite ready for it: The broadcast showed the Japanese star in the dugout wearing a pullover when the game went to extras. Caught off-guard, someone reminded him he needed to go to second and he quickly got organized.
Ohtani tried to advance on Jared Walsh's leadoff grounder, but was tagged out in a rundown.
“I feel like we’re just going to see some different stuff with that,” Olson said.