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Shohei Ohtani tag-out at home plate defines Dodgers road finale loss


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

For a brief moment, as Ohtani barreled toward the plate, trying to score a tying run from first base, it seemed like the Dodgers’ two-way star would make it.

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

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

When the juggernaut Dodgers (10-5) lose games this year, it likely will often be because they get beat on the margins.

Sometimes it might come down to an underwhelming starting pitching performance. Other times, a bullpen blunder or bang-bang play on the bases.

In Wednesday’s series finale, the Twins (4-6) capitalized upon all three — stressing Bobby Miller in a four-inning, two-run start; taking the lead on an Edouard Julien home run against reliever Alex Vesia in the fifth; then holding on through a couple of late-game scares, none bigger than their tag-out of Ohtani in the top of the seventh.

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

When Freddie Freeman ripped a double into the right-field corner with two outs, it looked like Ohtani would score.

Given his speed — he raced 270 feet in just 10.89 seconds — and the awkward hop the ball took off the wall by the foul pole, both Ebel and manager Dave Roberts said waving Ohtani home was an easy decision.

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

“With two outs,” Roberts added, “you’ve got to make them make the play.”

Make a play, the Twins did.

Right fielder Alex Kirilloff quickly recovered and fired a relay throw to infielder Carlos Correa. From just beyond the dirt in shallow right field, Correa then ripped a 92-mph throw to the plate.

Initially, Ohtani was ruled safe by plate umpire Marvin Hudson. Upon a challenge by the Twins, however, the video review showed that Minnesota catcher Christian Vázquez executed a perfect tag on Ohtani — who declined to talk to reporters after — a split-second before his foot touched the plate.

“He aced a throw to home plate,” Roberts said of Correa. “If it was a little bit higher, he still would’ve been safe.”

There were other little ways the Dodgers lost Wednesday, in the finale of a 3-3 Midwest trip.

Miller grinded through his start, continually falling behind hitters because of poor fastball command and execution of his secondary pitches.

The right-hander did limit the damage to two runs. And unlike last week, when he failed to get through two innings at Wrigley Field, he at least kept the Dodgers — who did their only scoring on a Teoscar Hernández RBI double in the first and Max Muncy’s solo home run in the fourth — in the game.

“Not super happy about the outing,” Miller said. “But with only two runs, given the amount of baserunners I had and amount of times I fell behind in the count, that gives me more confidence. Because I could easily have given in and made it a four- or five-run game.”

In the end, it didn’t matter. Miller’s replacement in the fifth inning, Vesia, gave up a home run for the second straight game.

“I missed my spot,” Vesia said, “and he got me.”

The Dodgers finished one for seven with runners in scoring position, eight runners left stranded — and one other that, in the game’s pivotal sequence, was thrown out at the plate.

“It was just a really good baseball play,” Roberts said. “Unfortunately, we were on the wrong end of that one.”


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