By Marc Rasbury
When the Mets’ Reliever Jeursy Familia entered a game this season, Terry Collins and his teammates could pencil in that game as a win.
Well that may have been the case for the regular season, the NLDS and NLCS. However, that was not the case in the World Series as the Mets faithful saw him blow three save opportunities in this year’s edition of the Fall Classic. As a result, the Kansas City Royals defeated the Mets four games to one to win the franchise’s second championship.
Familia taking the mound toward the end of a game signaled a win for the most part this season. So it was a shock to the system to see him blow three save opportunities on the biggest stage that baseball has to offer after his brilliant season. In Game1, he entered the contest with the responsibility of holding onto a one run lead. He got cute and quick pitched Alex Gordon. Gordon caught Familia’s second offering and deposited it in the Kaufman Stadium’s center field water fountain. That HR sent the game into extra innings where the Royals eventually beat the Mets in 14 innings, 5-4. Gordon’s towering HR also removed the cloak on invincibility that Familia has worn for the good part of the last three months.
The Mets were blown out in Game 2, 7-1, so Familia stayed in the bullpen. The Mets returned the favor in Game 3 defeating the Royals 9-3. In this contest, Noah Syndergaad set the tone by sending a high and tight message to leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar. The Royals took exception to that message. However, many baseball critics took exception to Terry Collins using Familia to close the game when the Mets were comfortably ahead. Collins’ explanation was simple. Familia was not used in four days and he wanted to keep him sharp. The only problem with that was there were three back-to-back-to-back games remaining and many felt he should have rested and saved his reliever for the upcoming games. Many look at this as an innocent but crucial momentum change in the series.
As fate would have it, the Mets went into the 8th inning of Game 4 holding onto slim two run lead. They handed the ball over to Tyler Clippard, who allowed the Royals to tie the game. Familia, who came into the game inheriting some of Clippard’s baggage and after some poor fielding, also surrendered two runs. Now that two run 8th inning lead suddenly became two run deficit in a matter of minutes.
Now, if Collins would not have used Familia in Game 3, he could have brought him out in Game 4 for a two inning save attempt. There is no telling how effective the hard throwing right hander would have been but at least he would have started the inning clean and been responsible for his own mess. Let the second guessing begin!
In Game 5 is where all Hell broke loose. Starting Pitcher Matt Harvey was having the type of game that should have catapulted him into World Series folk lore. He pitched 8 scoreless innings striking out 9 in the process. In between the 8th and 9th innings, the 45,000 Mets faithful were calling for an encore. Harvey talked Collins into letting him take the mound one last time so that he could get a shot at the complete game. What happened next, will live in infamy.
Harvey walked the Lorenzo Cain. Then Eric Hosmer blasted a line drive into left field for a RBI double. From here on out Collins will be linked with Boston Red Sox’ Grady Little who left Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS allowing the Yankees to come back to capture that Pennant.
Collins did take Harvey out and brought Familia in. But the damage was done. Familia did induced three grounders and should have ended the game. However, the Mets poor fielding allowed the game tying run to score and the rest was history. If Lucus Duda’s throw to home was in the same zip code of the plate, he would have nailed Hosmer, who took off after 3B David Wright threw to first to nab Salvador Perez. The game would go to the12th where Christian Colon, who did not have an at bat since early September, knocked in the game winning run. That opened the flood gates and the Royals added four more runs.
I’m not saying that this World Series loss is Familia’s fault. With exception of Game 1, he was put in some very difficult situations and got very little help from his friends including his manager, who put him in those difficult situations. Let’s face it, give the Royals some credit too.
This team is the epitome of a team. They took advantage of every Mets error, walk and two out hits that the Mets yielded in this series. Every time the Mets allowed a walk or an innocent two out hit, the next thing you know the runner was on 2nd mainly because the Mets catcher Travis d’Armaud could not keep Fat Albert from stealing second. Also, Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy, the two main reasons other than the starting pitching why the Mets advanced to the Fall Classic, suddenly disappeared and were nowhere to be found with the exception of some shoddy play in the field.
Mets fans you have something hold on to. Yes, we are all disappointed that the Mets blew this golden opportunity that was put before them. As far as I’m concerned they were playing with house money as soon as they made the postseason. The foundation is set and GM Sandy Alderson has options to improve the team over the winter. The past month was a blast and the future looks even better. Nurse your wounds from the past week Mets fans because the next few years should be Familia Territory as far as winning is concerned.