Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer stood 90 feet from home plate on Sunday night in New York City. He was the tying run in World Series Game 5 with the Kansas City Royals trailing by one run.
The KC Royals had been here before.
In 2014, Alex Gordon had watched as Salvador Perez popped out 90 feet from tying the game to lose Game 7 of the World Series. Third base coach Mike Jirschele had famously put up the stop sign at third base on a ball that rolled to the wall rather than send Gordon to the plate.
Eric Hosmer wasn’t going to let it happen again. This time, Eric Hosmer was going to force the other team make a play.
So when Salvador Perez grounded to New York Mets third baseman (and team captain) David Wright, Hosmer held at third base long enough to force Wright to throw to first—and then took off for home plate.
A good throw from first baseman Lucas Duda would have let the Mets double up Hosmer at home plate to end the game with a 2-1 victory for New York. But his throw sailed wide of home plate, allowing Hosmer to easily beat the throw with a head-first slide.
For the third time in the 2015 World Series, the KC Royals had denied the New York Mets victory with a late-inning comeback. This time, the Kansas City Royals had waited until the ninth inning to overcome a 2-0 lead.
Though Alex Gordon grounded out to end the inning, the New York Mets were a beaten team. They held on until the KC Royals rang up five runs in yet another death-by-a- thousand-cuts rally against relievers Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon in the bottom of the 12th, but that was a mere formality. After tying the game in the top of the ninth, the Kansas City Royals loomed in the visitors dugout like a pack of hungry wolves waiting for their prey to weaken.
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Meanwhile the Mets turned stiff with tension as fear of losing the World Series turned into horrific reality. That they managed to last two more innings as the Walking Dead is a testament to their will. But you could see they knew what was about to happen.
The Kansas City Royals won 7-2 in 12 innings to win the 2015 World Series.
For the fourth time in five games, the KC Royals came from behind to win. They became the first team in World Series history to rally three times in the eighth inning or later to pull out victories.
However, coming from behind was nothing new for the Kansas City Royals. Eight of their 11 post-season wins in the 2015 playoffs required them to overcome a lead. Seven of those wins involved erasing a multi-run deficit. They did it by scoring 51 runs in the eighth inning or later, while allowing only 11.
No team in baseball history has ever finished games like the 2015 KC Royals.
Yet, as much as their comebacks were about character, desire, and a never-say-die attitude, they also informed their predatory aggression with baseball craft. Eric Hosmer’s dash wasn’t fueled by mere impulse. The Kansas City Royals advance scouts had spotted third baseman David Wright flinging side-arm assists to first base due to spinal stenosis in his back, which slowed his throws. They also reported that first baseman Lucas Duda was not a strong defender at first base with a weak throwing arm.
But, Eric Hosmer still had to make the instant decision to run.
After the game, Hosmer told ESPN reporters:
"“You’ve just got to realize who’s on the mound,” Hosmer said. “Hits are hard to come by off that guy [Mets closer Jeurys Familia]. So you’ve got to take any chance you can.”“The way it ended last year, with everything that happened, such a magical run, you knew it couldn’t end like that again. You knew that story had to have a way better ending than losing Game 7.”"
Hosmer called his dash for home while being up three games to one “playing with house money“. As a team, the 2015 KC Royals added brains and guts to baseball craft.
There’s no better testament to the 2015 World Series Champions.