The Royals won the 2015 World Series in five games over the Mets in an exciting series that included two extra-inning affairs, three Royal come-from-behind wins, and several critical Mets mistakes. The final outcome wasn’t actually indicative of how close the series really was. Yet it hinged on these eight critical plays, in order of importance.
8. Game 4, 9th inning, Royals leading 5–3: Mike Moustakas doubles Yoenis Céspedes off first base to end game
The Mets had a chance to tie Game 4 in the bottom of the ninth, but Céspedes was caught in no man’s land on Duda’s liner to third. With runners at first and second, Duda hit a soft liner to Moustakas who then alertly threw to first to double off Céspedes, who either forgot how many outs there were or thought the ball was going to be fielded on the ground instead of through the air.
7. Game 1, 8th inning, game tied at 3: Eric Hosmer’s error lets in Mets go-ahead run
Hosmer, a two-time Gold Glover at first, was eaten up on a hard-hit chopper by Wilmer Flores. Caught in between bounces, Hosmer tried to backhand it, and the ball ended going under his glove and into right field, allowing Juan Lagares to score the go-ahead run from second base.
Although the Mets infield would make a couple of errors later on in the series that were as critical as Hosmer’s, the difference was that the Royals picked up Hosmer the next inning with a home run and it was soon forgotten. Hosmer then would get redemption himself in the 14th when he drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly.
6. Game 1, 1st inning, game tied at 0: Alcides Escobar’s inside-the-park home run
This play really set the tone for the entire series. The Royals were able to put the ball in play against the Mets vaunted starting pitching—to a certain degree—and were able to test to see if the Mets defense would crack—it did.
Escobar, swinging at Matt Harvey’s first pitch, blasted the ball deep in the left-center-field gap between Yoenis Céspedes and Michael Conforto. The ball then kicked off Céspedes’s foot and rolled around long enough for the Royals’ speedy shortstop to circle the bases.
It was a microcosm of the Royals’ plan all series. Be aggressive at the plate on those first-pitch offerings and force the Mets defense to make plays.
5. Game 3, 3rd inning, Royals leading 3–2: Curtis Granderson’s two-run home run
Down two games to none in the series, the Mets fell behind 1–0 in the first inning and then 3–2 in the second before Granderson lined this home run off Yordano Ventura over the right field fence to drive in Noah Syndergaard, giving the Mets the lead for good in this one.
Syndergaard then turned around and shut the Royals down the rest of the way, until turning the game over to the bullpen in the seventh.
4. Game 1, 9th inning, Mets leading 4–3: Alex Gordon’s game-tying home run
With the dominant Jeurys Familia on the mound in the ninth, the Royals didn’t seem to have much chance of winning the opener. But with one out and no one on, possibly the game’s best No. 8 hitter launched a 440-foot home run to center to tie the game and send the crowd into a frenzy.
Gordon’s game-tying shot gave us a bit of a skewed look at this year’s Fall Classic. While the Mets were unable to atone for defensive gaffes by Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, Gordon’s shot made everyone forget Hosmer’s run-inducing error the inning before.
3. Game 4, 8th inning, Mets leading 3–2: Daniel Murphy’s error leads to three-run inning
In the first two rounds of the playoffs (nine games), Murphy had an out-of-this-world batting line of .421/.436/1.026 (average/on-base/slugging) with seven home runs and 11 RBIs. But it was all forgotten when he let Hosmer’s slow-rolling ground ball go under his glove, which allowed a hustling Ben Zobrist to score from second. The error would open the door for a three-run inning and a Royals win that turned the series from a probable 2–2 tie into the Royals’ 3–1 advantage.
2. Game 5, 12th inning, game tied at 2: Christian Colón’s single scores Jarrod Dyson to put Royals up a run
You could pick Perez’s leadoff single, or ensuing pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson’s steal of second, or even Lorenzo Cain’s bases-clearing double as the biggest moment here, but Colón’s single opened the door to a five-run inning.
With the ultra-speedy Dyson at third and one out, the Mets needed either a strikeout or pop-up to put themselves into position to get out of the inning. But the clutch-hitting Colón—making his postseason debut here—in a high-leverage situation came through with the go-ahead single that opened the floodgates. Another Mets error (Murphy again) and four more runs later, the half-inning mercifully ended with the Royals having a nearly insurmountable 7–2 lead. They would then trot out the nearly unhittable Wade Davis in the bottom of the inning to close things out.
1. Game 5, 9th-inning, Mets leading 2–1: Lucas Duda’s throw home is offline; Hosmer scores from third to tie it
Salvador Perez’s broken bat bloop to third produced the second and what-should-have-been third outs—as Hosmer should have been out by a couple of steps at home—to end the inning. David Wright fielded it cleanly, looked at Hosmer to freeze him, and then threw to first to retire Perez; but as soon as he turned to throw, Hosmer took off for home.
The Mets would have ended the game right here and the series would have moved to Kansas City with a decent throw to the plate, but Duda’s throw sailed wide and past the wrong side of home. Hosmer scored easily to tie the game and take the rest of the air out of the Mets’ sails. With Harvey out of the game and Familia only good for another inning, the Royals knew they would soon have opportunities at the plate against a thin bullpen—and they did. Series over.