Royals catcher Salvador Perez has no idea how it happened.
One second, he thought he’d tagged the Rays’ Adeiny Hechavarria at home plate in the sixth inning of the Royals’ 2-1 loss on Monday.
The next, Hechavarria was picking himself up off the dirt and heading back to the visiting dugout at Kauffman Stadium, one run richer.
The play decided the game.
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And all Perez could do after watching the replay in the Royals’ dugout was laugh.
“That was kind of funny,” he said. “First time it happened to me. I thought the play was gonna be like a bam-bam play, pretty close.”
At first, it looked like it might be.
On a one-out single laced into right field by Tampa Bay’s Matt Duffy, right fielder Jorge Soler charged the ball and threw a strike to Perez at the third-base line.
“Great throw, perfect throw, perfect, perfect, perfect,” Perez said. “One hop. That was a great throw.”
But even as he glanced over his shoulder to watch Soler unfurl a 97 mph rocket, Hechavarria, who was at second base after leading off the inning with a double, did not heed the stop sign put up by Rays third-base coach Matt Quatraro.
Hechavarria kicked into gear as he sprinted home. Perez gloved Soler’s throw and dived to his left to tag Hechavarria as he approached the batter’s box. But Hechavarria bypassed Perez's tag and within moments found himself behind the plate, his body sprawling toward first-base.
Perez tried to apply another tag on Hechavarria’s right hand. But at the last moment, Hechavarria pulled that hand out of Perez’s reach and used his left hand to tap the plate.
“He just moved to the other side,” Perez said. “I tried to follow him, follow his body. He did a tremendous job changing hands. You guys saw that. That’s pretty good for him."
The Royals never challenged whether Hechavarria was safe.
"The throw was up the line but Salvy never veered off the line," manager Ned Yost said. "It was just a great slide.”