O'Hoppe's chaotic walk-off HR sends Angels past Astros

Catcher's fourth hit of game nearly caught by left fielder Cabbage in 9th inning

June 10th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- As stood at his locker following his walk-off two-run home run to help the Angels beat the Astros, 9-7, on Sunday, he was still trying to grasp what transpired.

The Angels mounted a comeback from down 7-4 and entered the ninth inning in a 7-7 tie. After singled against Astros closer Josh Hader, O’Hoppe stepped to the plate with the chance to win the game and avoid a series sweep for Houston.

Hader spun a slider at the bottom of the zone and O’Hoppe roped a laser down the left-field line. As the ball and Astros left fielder Trey Cabbage converged with the wall, it appeared that Cabbage had made a game-saving robbery. Instead, Cabbage -- who was traded from the Angels to the Astros in January -- couldn’t secure the catch, as the ball trickled out of his glove, leaving O’Hoppe and the rest of Angel Stadium unsure if Los Angeles had just won the game or not.

Pillar didn't know either, and he started back to first as O’Hoppe was about to round the bag. Had they passed each other, the homer would have been negated (Pillar's go-ahead run would have still won the game), but O’Hoppe stopped short of Pillar by mere inches.

“It was bizarre,” O’Hoppe said after the game. “I thought [Cabbage] caught it at first. It was a hell of a play. To even get a glove on it was impressive. Selfishly, I’m happy it dropped.”

The umpires signaled a home run and after huddling to discuss it, confirmed that O’Hoppe had just won the game for the Angels in one of their most improbable victories of the season.

“It’s a big one. I’m still not sure what really happened,” O’Hoppe said. “I’m trying to process it all, but it was a cool moment.”

O’Hoppe’s signature moment was just the cherry on top of what was one of the best games in the 24-year-old’s career. The Angels catcher secured his second four-hit game in the Majors, as well as his first stolen base, on top of catching all nine innings of a back-and-forth game.

“I don’t know what’s going on today. Some juju going on around here,” O’Hoppe said when asked about his first career steal. “But it’s something I wanted to change going from a zero last year in that column. Putting one on the board this year is something I worked with [third-base coach Eric Young Jr.] and [first-base coach Bo Porter] a lot on.”

O’Hoppe was the leading performer on Sunday, but he was far from the only contributor. Heading into the game, the Angels had been desperately searching for answers to their offensive woes that have extended for weeks.

It wasn’t just the long ball that sparked the win, either. Angels hitters used sacrifice flies, bunts with the bases loaded and four stolen bases to snap a 15-game streak of scoring no more than four runs, the sixth-longest stretch in franchise history. After scoring the fewest runs in baseball (37) during that streak, the Angels scored nine runs in a game that Justin Verlander started for Houston.

Trailing 7-4, the Angels mounted a comeback against the back end of the Astros’ bullpen in the eighth inning, scoring two runs against Ryan Pressly to tie the game before winning it in the bottom of the ninth on O’Hoppe’s home run. By erasing a three-run deficit in their comeback win, the Angels matched their largest comeback win at home this season (April 29 vs. the Phillies).

“They showed some resilience. They come in every day and work hard. It’s nice to see that work pay off, because they didn’t give up today,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “Some big hits that we needed today. The pitching [also] kept us there. Yeah, we gave up seven runs, but as I was saying last night, [the Astros] have a tremendous offense.”

Washington was impressed by the all-around effort from the Angels, ranging from their situational hitting, the bullpen keeping the club in the game and -- of course -- O’Hoppe’s performance.

“The good thing about today was he hit the ball to right field. Then he caught that breaking ball [against Hader on the walk-off],” Washington said about O’Hoppe. “He did a tremendous job, especially with the part where he stayed to right field. He doesn’t always have to be trying to pull the ball. Maybe this is a step forward for him in understanding that he can use the other side of the field.”

Washington was referring to O’Hoppe’s ground-rule double in the eighth inning, a ball with a 102.1 mph exit velocity that split the gap in right-center field.

Even though three of O’Hoppe’s four hits came to the pull side, Washington was most impressed with the opposite-field double. O’Hoppe would later score in the inning on a double from Zach Neto, cutting the deficit to one before the Angels catcher walked it off the next inning.