Just last week, we thought Alcides Escobar wiggling out of a pickle
en route to a stolen home plate was the most thrilling play for this year's improbable Kansas City Royals season.
Meet your new Royals hero: Justin Maxwell
Lacking clairvoyance, we didn't know that Justin Maxwell had a walk-off grand slam in him. The 29-year-old journeyman, whom the Royals got in a late-summer trade from the Houston Astros, electrified his new fans with a blast to left field on a full count to end a scoreless deadlock with the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Watch the video for yourself. Maxwell just really crushed the ball.
Maxwell's homer closed the book on the Royals' home regular season schedule and sealed a winning record for the season (assuming they don't lose a one-game playoff, which counts in the regular season standings), the first for the franchise since 2003 and only its second since 1994.
Now for the sobering news. The Royals are still 3.5 games off the pace for the last playoff spot in the American League. The Royals have moved ahead of the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles in the standings.
While none of those teams are mathematically eliminated, any one of them would have to leapfrog the Texas Rangers and catch up to either the Cleveland Indians or the Tampa Bay Rays to clinch a playoff berth with just a handful of games remaining.
The schedule benefits Kansas City to a certain extent in that the remainder of their games are against losers, albeit on the road. The Royals go to the Pacific Northwest to take on the lousy Seattle Mariners starting Monday for a three-game series but then have to close out the season with a four-game in Chicago against the White Sox.
But the Texas Rangers get to play the moribund Astros for three games at home, a series they could likely use to pad their advantage against the Royals in the chase for the last wild-card spot. Given that, Kansas City's playoff prospects seem slim.
But hey, we thought Escobar's stealing home would be the best part of the Royals season, and we were proved wrong about that. It could happen again.