It was a throw Lucas Duda had made hundreds of times in the course of his career.
Yet in the most important game of his life, the Mets first baseman failed to execute the throw home that could have saved the Mets from the humiliation of having to watch the Kansas City Royals celebrate their World Series championship on their home field.
Technically, the Mets lost Game 5 to the Royals, 7-2, in the 12th inning Sunday night (actually 12:34 a.m. Monday). But it was Duda's gaffe in the ninth that tied the score and sent the game to extra innings.
The Mets entered the ninth with a 2-0 lead and still led 2-1 with one out and Eric Hosmer at third. Duda recalled feeling pretty good because they had closer Jeurys Familia on the mound. Salvador Perez hit Familia's 96-mph sinker into the ground and harmlessly to David Wright. And that's when all heck broke loose.
Wright fielded it cleanly and looked at Hosmer along the third-base line. Hosmer froze, but when Wright threw to first base, he took off for home. Duda caught the ball for the second out and immediately fired it home. The wild throw flew to the right of catcher Travis d'Arnaud and to the backstop.
"I think you have to tip your hats to Hosmer there," Duda said. "It took some guts to do what he did and I didn't make the throw. So no excuses. I didn't make the throw."
Was Duda surprised he took off?
"In that situation, you know, I kinda caught him out of the corner of my eye,'' he said. "But you've got to tip your hats to Hosmer. It was an outstanding read and I didn't make the throw."
Mets manager Terry Collins said the defensive blunder was just something that happened.
"A good throw, he's out," Collins said. "Luke's got a great arm, and he threw the ball wide."
It was the second straight night that a poor defensive play cost the Mets. In Game 4, Daniel Murphy's eighth-inning error allowed the tying run to score during a three-run eighth that gave the Royals a 5-3 victory. Murphy made another error in the Royals' five-run 12th in Game 5.