Ozuna climbs wall and ... well, take a look

April 10th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- At least could smile about it afterward, knowing oh so well that he hadn’t seen (or heard) the last of a play that is certain to pop up on ballpark blooper reels quite soon.

The highlight, lowlight or whatever term applied in the end came in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 4-0 win over the Dodgers when the Cardinals’ left fielder scaled the wall as he misjudged an eighth-inning fly ball and subsequently face-planted on the warning track.

Teammates tried to refrain from laughing, at least until they were certain Ozuna hadn’t been injured on the play. The Dodgers relievers who had a front-row seat to the misplay couldn’t help but snicker. Cameras caught Kenley Jansen trying to hide his amusement by pulling his sweatshirt over his mouth.

“‘A’ for effort,” manager Mike Shildt concluded.

It was a play that can only be fully appreciated by watching it on repeat, but to recap, it went down something like this:

Dodgers second baseman Enrique Hernandez, who two seasons ago had a home run robbed by Ozuna at Marlins Park, drove a Mike Mayers pitch to deep left to open the inning. Ozuna, thinking the ball was headed into the Dodgers’ bullpen, climbed the left-field fence with his glove outstretched. He hung on the wall for about a second before realizing the trouble he was in.

The ball wasn’t carrying nearly as far as he had first thought.

As Ozuna tried to course correct, his feet tangled and he nosedived onto the warning track dirt. The ball one-hopped the fence, Hernandez was credited with a ground-rule double, and Ozuna had run 80 feet on a play where, according to Statcast, he only needed to cover 52.

“It brought me back a flashback to Miami two years ago,” said Hernandez, referencing the home run Ozuna stole from him in a year the left fielder won a Gold Glove Award. “And then he face-planted. I wasn’t sure what just happened. I saw the replay now after the game, and I was trying not to laugh because we just lost the game, but seeing my bullpen’s reaction got me.”

Tongue in cheek, Hernandez continued.

“I’m really glad it happened to him. He deserves it. He’s my boy. I played with him [in Miami in 2014], but he’s still reminding me every year of the play he made two years ago. The only thing that would have made it better is if it hit off of his head when he fell down.”

Ozuna was slow to get up afterward, but he did remain in the game. Mayers and Andrew Miller worked around the leadoff hit to preserve the Cardinals’ four-run lead, and Ozuna was greeted by giggling teammates when he returned to the dugout at the end of the inning.

“I’m just glad that he’s OK,” catcher Yadier Molina said. “But, yeah, it was a funny play.”

The misplay was reminiscent of one that Ozuna was a part of last year in Milwaukee. In that June 21 game, Ozuna started to climb the wall at Miller Park before realizing that Jesus Aguilar’s hit wasn’t going to clear it. Ozuna wasn’t able to recover in time to make that catch, either.

This one, however, may stay with him a while longer.

“I guess we can laugh about it now that he’s not hurt, but it was a funky route,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He will be in the bloopers for the next 10 years.”