HomeSportsShohei Ohtani's tag-out at home plate defines the Dodgers' road trip finale...

Shohei Ohtani’s tag-out at home plate defines the Dodgers’ road trip finale loss to the Twins

Dino Ebel waved his arm. Shohei Ohtani twisted his legs.

For a brief moment, as Ohtani rushed to the plate and tried to score a tying run all the way from first base, it looked like the Dodgers’ two-time star would make it.

Instead, in the decisive moment of the team’s 3-2 loss at Target Field on Wednesday, the Minnesota Twins’ defense turned in a picture-perfect relay play.

“That’s as clean as it gets,” said Ebel, the Dodgers’ third base coach. “They made a perfect throw.”

If the big Dodgers (10-5) lose games this year, it will likely often be because they are being beaten on the margins.

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Some days it can come down to a disappointing pitching performance. Other times, a bullpen blunder or a bang-bang play on the bases.

In Wednesday’s series finale, the Twins (4-6) took advantage of all three – highlighting right-hander Bobby Miller in a four-inning, two-run start; taking the lead on a home run by Edouard Julien against reliever Alex Vesia in the fifth; and then held their ground through a pair of late-game scares, none bigger than their tagout of Ohtani in the top of the seventh.

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After Austin Barnes led off the inning with a walk, consecutive fielder’s choice grounders by Mookie Betts and Ohtani left the speedy two-time MVP at first base.

When Freeman doubled into the rightfield corner with two outs, it looked like Ohtani would get home safely.

Given his speed (he raced 270 feet in just 10.89 seconds) and the tricky first bounce that saw the ball fly off the wall at the right-side foul pole, both Ebel and manager Dave Roberts said Ohtani’s swinging home was an easy decision was.

“When I saw the bump in the corner…I said, ‘There it is,’” Ebel said.

“With two outs,” Roberts added, “you have to make sure they get the play.”

Make a play, the Twins did.

Right fielder Alex Kirilloff recovered quickly and fired a relay throw to infielder Carlos Correa. Correa stood near the foul line in shallow right field and then ripped a 90-mph pitch to the plate.

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Initially, Ohtani was ruled safe by home plate umpire Marvin Hudson.

After a challenge by the Twins, however, video review showed catcher Christian Vázquez executing a perfect tag on Ohtani — who, through a Dodgers PR official, declined to speak to reporters after the game — a split second before his foot hit the plate.

“He scored a throw to home plate,” Roberts said of Correa. “If it had been a little higher, he would still have been safe.”

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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