Rays' Hechavarria makes elusive slide for game-winning run

May 15 (UPI) — Adeiny Hechavarria looked like a world champion at playing tag, with an elusive slide in a Tampa Bay Rays victory against the Kansas City Royals.

The Rays shortstop made the play in the top of the sixth inning of the 2-1 win Monday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Tampa Bay and Kansas City were tied 1-1 in the frame when Matt Duffy walked to the plate to face Eric Skoglund.

Hechavarria stood on second base when the lefty tossed in a 92.8-mph two-seam fastball. Duffy slapped the offering for a line-drive single to Jorge Soler. Hechavarria hustled around third base but was beaten by the right fielder’s throw. The shortstop slowed up before reaching home plate.

Royals catcher Salvador Perez dove at Hechavarria, but the shortstop jerked his left hip away from the swiping tag attempt. He flew past home plate and was face-to-face with Perez before attempting another scoring touch.

Hechavarria lunged forward and attempted to tap the plate with his right hand, but Perez beat him to his destination. The shortstop pulled back that hand and tagged the backside of the plate with his left hand.

“That was pure instinct, I went in thinking I’m going in to slide, but he was right there blocking the plate,” Hechavarria told reporters. “So I went around, I was going to put one hand in, and I saw he was going to put one hand there, so I flipped and put the other hand in there just in time.”

“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.

“I went for the right hand first, but as soon as he saw me go outside, he changed to the left and I was too late. That was a great slide for him. Yeah, in that moment I thought I almost got him a little bit because I felt something. But he was safe.”

Hechavarria went 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot in the victory. The seven-year veteran is now hitting .268 with two home runs and 13 RBIs this season.

Tampa Bay and Kansas City meet for the second game of their three-game series at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday in Kansas City.

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