Though the Giants eventually ran away with an 11-4 win in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night at AT&T Park, some more great defense from the Royals might have prevented them from grabbing the lead sooner.
Kansas City remained ahead, 4-3, with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning, when San Francisco's 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 Jarrod Dyson, captured by the Statcast tracking technology.
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. Statcast measured Dyson's route at 98.5 percent efficiency, and he finished off the play by diving forward to make the catch, taking out a big divot in the process.
The grab prevented a potential go-ahead, two-RBI hit, but it didn't stop the Giants from tying the game. Hunter Pence, stationed at third base, tagged up and raced home at a top speed of 20.7 mph, as Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt made it back safely to second and first, respectively.
More from Game 4
Blanco advances, steals, scores
The Giants drew first blood, in the bottom of the first inning. Gregor Blanco took a leadoff walk and moved up on Jason Vargas' wild pitch, getting out to an initial lead of 11 feet and digging for second at a top speed of 19.3 mph. He then got a 15-foot lead and a big jump before reaching 19.7 mph on a steal of third. After Buster Posey walked, Pence hit a grounder to third baseman Mike Moustakas, who looked Blanco back to third before trying to go around the horn for a double play. But Pence busted it down the line at 21.3 mph to beat Omar Infante's turn, allowing Blanco to scamper home at 17.6 mph.
Gordon swipes second Alex Gordon reached base on a force play in the third inning, then broke for second on a 2-2 pitch that Lorenzo Cain took for a ball. Posey's throw tailed into a sliding Gordon and deflected into center field. Gordon, who reached 19.6 mph, was safe with his fourth steal of the postseason.
Cain legs out a hit
Cain followed Gordon's swipe with a bouncer to the left side of the infield. Shortstop Brandon Crawford charged, gloved and made a strong one-hop throw that Belt scooped. But it wasn't enough to get the fleet-footed Cain, who beat it out at a top speed of 20.8 mph.
Hosmer gets infield hit of his own
The Royals' small-ball attack continued with the next hitter, as Eric Hosmer came to the plate with runners on first and third. Hosmer bounced one to the right side of the mound, eluding Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong. Belt came over to field it instead and threw to Vogelsong, who couldn't get his foot to the bag in time to beat Hosmer, who reached 19.4 mph on what became an RBI infield single.
Blanco tracks down Gordon's drive
With one out in the fourth, Gordon jumped on a 3-1 pitch from reliever Yusmeiro Petit and drilled it to deep right-center field. Blanco, moving at a high speed of 21.2 mph, broke from his spot in center and ran nearly 120 feet into the gap, pulling the ball down just shy of the track.
Panik smacks a double Joe Panik jump-started the Giants' game-tying, two-run fifth inning rally with a liner into the right-center gap off Vargas. The hit looked like a potential triple, but Cain raced over from his spot in right at a high of 20.6 mph, covering about 100 feet of ground to cut off the ball. That held Panik, who topped out at 19.5 mph, to a double.
Pence goes first to third
Later in the fifth, after Pence cut the Giants' deficit to 4-3 with an RBI single, Sandoval smacked a line drive to left-center off Duffy. Pence took an initial 10-foot lead against the left-hander, jumped out to 12 feet at contact, then charged around second with no hesitation. Reaching 21 mph, he made it to third without a play, setting him up to score on Perez's sacrifice fly.
Perez robs Gordon
With the Royals now trailing by three runs, Gordon led off the seventh against Jeremy Affeldt and lofted a fly ball down the left-field line. Perez went 18.9 mph and covered almost 100 feet of ground as he sprinted toward the line and laid out for a diving catch.
Blanco's bunt creates havoc
The Giants broke the game completely open in the seventh, scoring four runs. With runners on first and second and no outs, Blanco put a bunt down the third-base line against reliever Tim Collins, who fielded it. But Collins' throw to first bounced off the glove of Infante and rolled well into foul territory, allowing Crawford to score. Blanco topped out at 20.3 mph on his way to first, Crawford cruised home at 16.2 mph and Michael Morse took third at 15.3.
Statcast highlights from earlier in the postseason
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 dominant Royals reliever Wade Davis, Blanco dropped a bunt out in front of the plate that barely reached the infield grass. 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 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. Buster 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 Nori Aoki deftly played the carom off the wall and zipped a throw to 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 Yordano 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 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.