Heading into Game 1 of the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets, Daniel Murphy was very much the center of headlines.
Murphy’s hot bat helped muscle the Mets through the National League playoffs as he found success against Los Angeles Dodgers aces Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the NL Division Series.
Then wasn’t slowed by Chicago Cubs’ right-hander Jake Arrieta and others, in the NL Championship Series.
However, by the bottom of the first inning on Tuesday night, a home run not hit by Murphy was in the spotlight. Royals shorstop Alcides Escobar drove Matt Harvey’s first pitch to left-center field.
Yoenis Cespedes appeared to have a read on the ball, though looked over to rookie left fielder Michael Conforto last second and made an awkward attempt at a backhanded catch. The ball hit Cespedes’ leg and rolled toward left field.
Escobar was rounding third base en route to an easy inside-the-park home run by the time Conforto managed to recover the ricochet, sending Kauffman Stadium into a frenzy.
MLB’s Statcast technology recorded Escobar’s top speed at 20 mph as he rounded first base and clocked his home-to-home trip at 15 seconds. The inside-the-park home run was the first during the World Series since Mule Haas did the same for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1929.
Escobar became the first player to hit an inside-the-park homer in Game 1 of the World Series since Casey Stengel (New York Giants) in 1923. Stengel played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1912-17.
The thrilling play was a precursor of what was to follow as the Mets and Royals played five hours and nine minutes of baseball. Alex Gordon’s solo home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning tied the game at 4-4.
Kansas City took a 1-0 series lead on Eric Hosmer’s sacrifice fly that came with no outs and the bases loaded in the 14th inning.