Johnson, on second base with none out in the inning, broke for third on the 2-1 pitch to Chone Figgins. The ball was high and outside for a ball and Johnson was caught in no-man's land, becoming the first out of the inning.
"I went through the signs and tried to let the runners know that nothing was on," Tinsley said on Wednesday. "I have to do a better job of making sure they know it."
It is not unusual for a coach to give signs before any given pitch, and then wipe them off, depending on the situation.
With runners on first and second, nobody out and a left-handed batter up -- the case in Tuesday night's game -- it is unlikely that a hit-and-run play would be used.
Tinsley said he put his palms down to indicate "stay put", but Johnson did not pick it up.
It was the first missed sign gaffe since manager Don Wakamatsu switched coaching duties, having Tinsley move to third base and Mike Brumley move to first base.