HOUSTON -- Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar made the play of the 2016 season. At least so far.
After Carlos Gomez led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a single on Thursday night -- the first hit for the Astros off Royals starter Ian Kennedy -- Marwin Gonzalez sent a looping fly to short center that appeared set to fall in for a hit.
But Escobar ran toward center, with his back to the infield, and made an incredible sliding, over-the-shoulder snag for the out.
It gets better.
Escobar then rose to his feet, pivoted, and threw a one-hop strike to first baseman Eric Hosmer that nipped Gomez at first by an eyelash for a double play. The Royals went on to win, 6-2.
Royals players and coaches were astonished at the Escobar play.
"It's probably the best play I've ever seen in person," Kennedy said.
Hosmer, who has seen plenty of great plays from Escobar, including the magical 90-foot sprint and sliding catch in Cleveland in 2014, said this one has to be at the top.
"The one in Cleveland was unbelievable," Hosmer said. "But this one has to be as good or better because he also got the double play. Both sides of it were unreal."
Hosmer said the play at first was close.
"But I knew we had him," Hosmer said. "It was a perfect throw."
Royals manager Ned Yost doesn't even try to rank Escobar's great plays anymore.
"You see them so often," Yost said, "you just assume he's going to make them all. But that was just a great play."
Even Escobar seemed to give himself a tip of the cap.
"That was a really hard play," he said. "You're running really hard and you're trying to find the ball. And then I catch it and [Lorenzo] Cain is yelling, 'Throw to first!' So I get up and throw.
"Wow. That's a really good play."
Better than the catch in Cleveland?
"Yes, because we got a double play," Escobar said.