April 14 (Reuters) - The Kansas City Royals continue to display the defense that led them to last year’s World Series title, even turning new team mates into amazed fans.
New pitcher Ian Kennedy was left in awe on Thursday when his shortstop Alcides Escobar delivered a fantastic play in the field that helped Kansas City clinch a 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros.
In the sixth inning, Escobar sprinted to the outfield to make a diving catch over his shoulder then spun around and fired to first base for a double play.
”One of the best plays I’ve ever seen in person, probably,” Kennedy told the Kansas City Star.
“That was awesome. That pumped me up.”
Escobar also conceded that the play was “one of the best I made.”
Such highlights are a new sight for Kennedy, who signed a five-year, $70 million dollar contract in the off-season to join Kansas City after a stint with the San Diego Padres.
But for the Royals, defensive delights are a constant that have helped them reach consecutive World Series.
In last season’s playoffs, outfielder Lorenzo Cain regularly made tightrope catches that sucked the air out of opposing batters.
Cain was not alone. In addition to Escobar, the Royals boast tremendous fielders who serve as the lifeblood of their group.
Catcher Salvador Perez has won three straight Gold Gloves, while first baseman Eric Hosmer is also a recognized defenseman.
In the playoffs, when the weather cools and offenses stall, Kansas City truly separates itself with their gloves.
The Royals appear to have already reached mid-season form, however, on their way to a 7-2 start.
It has not been lost on Kennedy, who has started 2-0.
”They can run down everything in the outfield (here),” Kennedy said.
”The bloopers don’t fall. The hits in the gap are run down.
“It’s really fun to watch.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles. Editing by Patrick Johnston