In what has become a year-end tradition, MLB.com takes a look back at the top storylines of the year -- the Top 15 for 2015.KANSAS CITY -- Of all the incredible plays that were part of the Royals' World Series title run, perhaps none stood out more than first baseman
In what has become a year-end tradition, MLB.com takes a look back at the top storylines of the year -- the Top 15 for 2015.
KANSAS CITY -- Of all the incredible plays that were part of the Royals' World Series title run, perhaps none stood out more than first baseman Eric Hosmer's daring dash toward home in Game 5 of the World Series.
With the Royals down, 2-1, in the ninth inning against Mets closer Jeurys Familia, Hosmer stood at third with one out. Salvador Perez hit a slow chopper toward short that third baseman David Wright cut off. Wright looked back at Hosmer and then threw to first baseman Lucas Duda to get Perez.
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But to the astonishment of almost everyone, Hosmer took off for home as Wright began his throw. Duda's throw home was wide left, and Hosmer slid in head first safely with the tying run. The Royals went on to win, 7-2, in 12 innings to capture their first World Series title in 30 years.
"At that point in the game, and with that guy on the mound, I figured we had to take a chance," Hosmer said of the dash. "The odds of sitting back and getting another hit aren't that great."
But two days later, at the championship parade, even Hosmer questioned the wisdom of his move.
"I got a few steps toward home and started thinking, 'Oh-oh,'" Hosmer said, smiling. "'Did I just do this?'"
First-base coach Rusty Kuntz had a great view of the play.
"You know, I have to give credit to our advance scouts," Kuntz said by phone this week. "We knew through our scouting reports that Wright didn't have a great arm and that Duda was more of a DH than a first baseman, so he wasn't going to be all that sure of himself on plays like that.
"I saw Hoz kind of shuffling his feet as Wright was beginning to throw, and then I saw him take off as Wright threw it. I wasn't really watching Duda at that point -- I was just watching Hoz. Then I saw the throw, and man, he really hooked that throw. Hoz slid in head first and was safe, and I couldn't believe it.
"But when you think about it, it was such a smart play. In that situation, off that closer, were we really going to get another base knock? Probably not. But to do it in the ninth inning of Game 5, that was such a [gutsy] play."
Inside the Royals' dugout, the players erupted in cheers.
"We have been doing that stuff all season," said infielder Christian Colon, who later drove in the go-ahead run. "We always try to be aggressive. It's Royals baseball. We try to make things happen and make the other team make plays."
Third-base coach Mike Jirschele said he didn't send Hosmer. But he didn't disapprove of the decision.
"Where that ball was hit, it was in between third and short," Jirschele said. "It's Wright's ball to go get. So as soon as he started going for the ball, Hoz started shuffling down the line. And as soon as Wright dropped his arm to throw it, he just took off for home. I didn't say anything. I just said, 'You're OK. You're OK.' And he shuffled and shuffled, and then he took off."
Jirschele agreed that advance scouting played a major role, just like it had when Lorenzo Cain scored all the way from first on a Hosmer single to Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
"We talked about it before the game," Jirschele said. "We knew we were going to put pressure on Duda at first. And Wright doesn't have a cannon over there, either. So with that, once he threw it, you knew it was going to have to get to Duda first. And then Duda is still going to have to stretch and catch it and re-adjust and make a throw to home."
Wright said he did everything he could to keep Hosmer close to the bag.
"I tried my best to check him, try to freeze him at third, but obviously that's tough to do when there's nobody over there covering," Wright said.
Duda knew a good throw would have gotten Hosmer.
"It's a throw I've got to make," he said.
No one was more grateful that the throw was off-line than Hosmer.
"I knew I wasn't going to beat the ball home," Hosmer said. "I was hoping I was going fast enough. It felt fast. Did it look fast?"
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB