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Rally fizzles after Ohtani's baserunning gamble

Two-way star postgame: 'I thought I had a chance to make it'
@RhettBollinger
May 15, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- A night after crushing his first homer of the season, Shohei Ohtani had another solid showing offensively by going 3-for-4 with an RBI, but he made a mistake on the bases that hurt a rally in the sixth inning, and he was also thrown out at home on

MINNEAPOLIS -- A night after crushing his first homer of the season, Shohei Ohtani had another solid showing offensively by going 3-for-4 with an RBI, but he made a mistake on the bases that hurt a rally in the sixth inning, and he was also thrown out at home on a critical play in the eighth in a 4-3 loss to the Twins on Tuesday at Target Field.

Ohtani, who wears a brace over his surgically repaired right elbow when running the bases, explained he was trying to be aggressive, but that it ultimately didn’t work out either time. The first out on the bases was a bad decision by Ohtani, who was thrown out easily at third after hesitating at second base, but the other was simply a great play by center fielder Byron Buxton to end the eighth inning.

“I was trying to be aggressive, trying to get to third base with less than two outs,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “Also the right fielder was left-handed and the shift was on, so the positioning was kind of messed up. So I thought I had a chance to make it to third, but once again, the results weren’t there.”

Box score

The Angels were held scoreless through the first five frames by right-hander Kyle Gibson, but the offense came alive in the sixth. The recently recalled Luis Rengifo drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double from David Fletcher, before Tommy La Stella singled and Fletcher scored on a wild pitch.

It brought Ohtani to the plate with one out and La Stella at second, and he was able to beat the shift by sneaking a single up the middle through the left side of the infield to score La Stella. Andrelton Simmons then poked a single to right and Ohtani slowed after getting to second base.

But after his initial hesitation at second, Ohtani broke for third after right fielder Max Kepler decided to throw to shortstop Jorge Polanco, who served as the cutoff man. Polanco’s throw to third easily beat Ohtani for an important second out that ended any potential momentum. Pujols followed with a flyout to right to end the inning.

“I knew the shift was on so I knew as soon as Simmons hit the ball, the ball was going to get through to right field,” Ohtani said. “I took a stop and I thought he kind of bobbled it, or maybe he caught it weird, so that’s why I thought I had a shot of making it to third base.”

Ohtani picked up his third hit on a squibber near home plate off lefty Taylor Rogers in the eighth, and he reached second on a two-out single from Pujols. Brian Goodwin then dropped a single into center and Ohtani tried to score on the play, but was thrown out by Buxton, who made an incredible 98.6-mph throw to Garver at home from 253 feet.

It was a close play at the plate, but manager Brad Ausmus said he was told it wasn’t worth challenging, and that Garver didn’t break any rules by blocking the plate because he didn’t do it until he received the ball.

“I could’ve, but when I turned back to [bench coach] Josh Paul and went to get an answer, I saw [home-plate umpire] Joe [West] had sent the Twins off the field,” Ausmus said. “But it would’ve made no difference. He was out. We looked at it multiple times from multiple angles. He was clearly out.”

Ohtani was tagged out by Garver, but Garver left the game hobbling after injuring his lower left leg on the play. He was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain after the game. Ohtani reached 28 feet per second on the play, which is above the MLB average of 27, but slightly below his average of 28.4 last year.

“The situation called for it,” Ohtani said. “It was two outs, we were down by one, I had to take that gamble. I felt like I had a decent chance, but the results didn’t come out the way I wanted, so I just need to focus on my running game from now on, starting tomorrow."

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.