With a little help from Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco, the Royals came oh-so-close to tying Game 7 of the World Series with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Trailing, 3-2, Alex Gordon interrupted Madison Bumgarner's dominant relief outing with a line drive to center that Gordon initially thought was a single when it bounced in front of Blanco, but the ball got past the Giants center fielder.
"I didn't think he was going to get to it," Gordon said, "but when it got by him, I just put my head down and ran, and I was trying to do anything to score."
Statcast's tracking technology shows Gordon shifting into a higher gear around first base, then reaching a top speed of 18.7 mph as he neared second. By comparison, Gordon went as fast as 20.3 mph while tagging up earlier in the game, and teammates Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson have routinely topped 20 mph this postseason.
In this case, Gordon got the red light from third-base coach Mike Jirschele as he approached the bag and the relay throw from left fielder Juan Perez -- who had chased the ball down, and fumbled it, at the warning track -- got to shortstop Brandon Crawford in shallow left-center.
"I just was waiting for Jirschele to give me the signal," Gordon said. "It was a good hold. They would've gotten me with plenty of time. Close, but just came up a little short."
With Gordon settling for a single and a two-base error on Blanco, the tying run remained 90 feet away. Salvador Perez followed with a foul out to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, and the World Series was over.
More from World Series Game 7
Panik starts nifty double play
The Royals looked to be getting something going in the third inning when Lorenzo Cain led off with a single against reliever Jeremy Affeldt. Eric Hosmer followed with a grounder up the middle that could have been another hit, but rookie second baseman Joe Panik darted about 25 feet to his right to make a diving stop. He shoveled the ball with his glove to shortstop Brandon Crawford at second, who snagged it and rifled a throw to first. Hosmer, who reached 18.4 mph, made a questionable decision to dive headfirst into the bag, and after initially being ruled safe he was called out on review. The Royals didn't score again.
Moustakas makes diving stop
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas capped a 1-2-3 first inning for starter Jeremy Guthrie by robbing Buster Posey of a potential hit. Posey broke his bat and grounded a ball between third base and shortstop, with Moustakas moving 24 feet to his left for a diving stop. He bounced back up to his feet and threw out Posey, who ran at a top speed of 17.8 mph.
Giants strike first with sac flies
San Francisco loaded the bases with no outs in the second and cashed in with back-to-back sacrifice flies from Michael Morse and Crawford to grab a 2-0 advantage. Morse hit a liner to deep right, with Sandoval scoring at 16.1 mph and Hunter Pence moving up to third at 18.8 mph. Pence then reached 20.7 mph after tagging up on Crawford's flyout to center.
Butler scores from first
The Royals tied the game in the bottom of the second. They got their first run on Gordon's shot into the right-center-field gap when the ball rolled all the way to the wall for a double. The hit was enough to get slow-footed Billy Butler all the way around from first base, as the DH got up to 18 mph before sliding across home plate.
Gordon's hustle nets a run
Kansas City evened the score that inning thanks to some good baserunning from Gordon. On Moustakas' deep liner to left field, Gordon got back to second to tag up, then hustled to third at 20.3 mph, sliding in just ahead of Juan Perez's throw. That allowed Gordon to tag and come home at 18.4 mph on Omar Infante's subsequent flyout to center.
Sandoval sets up go-ahead run
Sandoval led off the fourth inning against Guthrie with a grounder up the middle. The second baseman Infante moved about 30 feet to his right to field it with his bare hand but lost his footing and couldn't get off a strong throw. Sandoval, running at 18.9 mph, beat it out for an infield single, one of his three hits. He then moved to second on Pence's single before tagging and going to third -- at 20 mph -- on Brandon Belt's shot to left. That set up Sandoval to score what turned out to be the game's final run on Morse's single.
Statcast highlights from earlier in the postseason
World Series Game 6: Cain's bloop keys 10-run second
The Royals didn't exactly tear the cover off the ball in the second inning. One of the not-so-big blows came from Cain, who went to the plate with the bases loaded, one out, and a 2-0 lead. Cain greeted reliever Yusmeiro Petit by blooping a 2-2 pitch into shallow center field, dropping in front of Blanco. Moustakas scored easily from third, and Statcast tracking technology shows that Alcides Escobar zipped around from second at a high speed of 19.3 mph to cross the plate without a throw. Meanwhile, Nori Aoki reached 19.8 mph while charging from first to third, soon scoring on a double by Eric Hosmer.
World Series Game 5: Perez doubles of Davis
With one out and runners at first and second and the Giants leading, 2-0, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Juan Perez slugged a 96-mph fastball off the top of the center-field wall. Pence got a secondary lead of 17 feet off first base, with Sandoval 13 feet off second as both runners waited until it was clear the ball was sailing over the head of center fielder Dyson. At that point, they took off. Sandoval scored at a top speed of 17.6 mph, with Pence nearly catching up to him at 20.4 mph before sliding in ahead of Escobar's relay throw. Perez, who reached 18.3 mph, took third when the throw got past catcher Salvador Perez.
World Series Game 4: Dyson shows off speed to make diving catch
Kansas City was ahead, 4-3, with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Juan Perez hit a shallow fly ball to center field off reliever Danny Duffy. The blooper easily could have landed for a hit, if not for a spectacular grab by Royals center fielder Dyson.
From contact, Dyson made his first step in 0.2 seconds, and it took him 2.84 seconds to accelerate to a top speed of 21.7 mph. That's just a touch below the 21.9 mph he reached running out a double-play grounder in Game 4, but it still allowed him to cover 69 feet of turf in the 3.35 seconds the ball was in the air. The grab prevented a potential go-ahead, two-RBI hit, but it didn't stop the Giants from tying the game. Pence, stationed at third base, tagged up and raced home at a high of 20.7 mph, as Sandoval and Belt made it back safely to second and first, respectively.
World Series Game 3: Perez's scoop and throw beats Blanco's dive
With one out and the bases empty in the bottom of the eighth inning against Davis, Blanco dropped a bunt out in front of the plate that barely reached the infield grass. Salvador Perez, all 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds of him, sprang out from behind the dish and pounced on the ball before quickly unloading a strong throw to first. Blanco, who had four bunt hits this season, reached 21.2 mph on his way to first base, according to Statcast tracking technology. But he also negated some of his own momentum by launching into a headfirst dive toward the bag, and the throw beat him there.
World Series Game 2: Pence slips, still beats Escobar's throw
With the score knotted, 2-2, the Giants had Posey on first with one out when Pence hit the grounder off Yordano Ventura. Escobar had to range about 36 feet to his right to reach the ball near the outfield grass. Under normal circumstances, Escobar would have had no chance at throwing out Pence at first base, but Pence slipped coming out of the batter's box. With his momentum continuing toward the third-base line, Escobar tried a jump throw to first but couldn't get much on it. Pence, hustling at a maximum of 21.1 mph, was able to beat the throw with room to spare.
World Series Game 1: Royals' slick relay throw
With runners on first and third and one out in the first inning, Sandoval smoked a James Shields breaking ball into Kauffman Stadium's right-field corner. Blanco scored easily from second. Posey, stationed at first, took an initial nine-foot lead and extended it to 14 feet at contact. Traveling at a top speed of 18.4 mph, Posey got the wave toward home, but the risk didn't pay off, as Royals right fielder Aoki deftly played the carom off the wall and zipped a throw to his cutoff man.
ALCS Games 1 and 2: Dyson gets caught ... twice
Counting the postseason, Dyson entered the ALCS 121-for-141 (85.8 percent) as a basestealer in his career, including 71-for-84 (84.5 percent) over the past two seasons. Yet he started the series 0-for-2 against Baltimore, marking only the second time he was been caught in consecutive games. In Game 1, Dyson took his first step in 0.27 seconds and accelerated to a top speed of 20.1 mph in 2.2 seconds. He slid in ahead of a 70.1-mph throw from catcher Nick Hundley, but second baseman Jonathan Schoop kept his tag on Dyson's left leg as it came off the bag, possibly applying the pressure that made Dyson's leg stray.
No such tactic was necessary in Game 2, with Andrew Miller. This time, Dyson reached a higher top speed (22.3 mph), but the pitch was high, giving Joseph a good opportunity to throw. Joseph, who threw out 40 percent of attempted basestealers during the regular season, made a perfect throw to shortstop Hardy, on the first-base side of the bag. Hardy put the tag down on Dyson's left shoulder just before he reached the base.
ALCS Game 2: Cain sprints, lays out to rob Hardy
Cain tormented the Orioles defensively. Hardy led off the sixth inning with a drive that traveled about 350 feet into the right-center-field gap off Ventura. It looked like an extra-base hit off the bat, but Cain had other ideas. From his position in center, he took his first step toward the ball in less than a quarter of a second, accelerating to a maximum speed of 21.2 mph in 3.74 seconds. But to make the play, Cain needed more than pure speed. Statcast measured his route efficiency at 99.7 percent, meaning he traversed a nearly optimal path from his original location to the spot where he dove to snag Hardy's shot. That allowed his long strides to cover 82 feet of outfield in only 3.65 seconds.
ALCS Game 1: Hundley's crazy scoop
With the game tied at 5 in top of the ninth, Orioles reliever Zach Britton walked the first three batters he faced, but then got bailed out when Eric Hosmer hit a weak grounder to first base. Escobar, the runner on third, had a secondary lead of 13 feet, 9 inches, but got an understandably slow start, as he wanted to be conservative with no one out. (He ultimately reached a top speed of 20.3 mph, which is impressive.) First baseman Steve Pearce charged Hosmer's grounder and made a clean scoop, but his throw came in low, and it took an incredible scoop by catcher Hundley to record the out, with the ball beating Escobar by just .17 seconds.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.