(Photo Bill Menzel)
What started out as a remarkable rookie story turned into a Halloween horror for the Mets and their fans as a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning of Game 4 was erased by an E-4 when Daniel Murphy couldn’t cleanly field a sure thing double-play ball.
The Royals went on to score three runs and take a lead for the first time in the game. Those pesky Midwesterners now held a 5-3 going into the ninth.
Closer Jeurys Familia was tagged with his second blown save when the double play might have been the impetus to a Met victory. He becomes the first pitcher since Philadelphia’s Ryan Madson in 2008 to have at least two blown saves in a World Series.
So guess who got the win in tonight’s eventual 5-3 win for the Royals – you guessed it – Ryan Madson. Funny how baseball has these little laughs with itself.
The Mets are still struggling to find hits in their bats, with just four knocks through eight, and two of those were home runs by Michael Conforto, the first rookie to hit two home runs in a World Series game since Andruw Jones did so for the Braves in 1996 (Game 1).
Conforto became the sixth met to post two home runs in a postseason game, joining the likes of Rusty Staub (Game 3, 1973 NLCS), Edgardo Alfonzo (Game 1, 1999 NLDS), Carlos Delgado (Game 2, 2000 NLCS) and Carlos Beltran (Game 4, 2000 NLCS).
Gary Carter is also on that list, but his was as special as Conforto’s, having come in a World Series affair, not just “postseason,” in Game 4 of the 1986 Fall Classic.
The rookie’s efforts towards Series immortality – he almost had his Reggie moment – was reflected upon by his manager after the game.
“He’s going to be a very good player for us,” Terry Collins said. “He’s had good at-bats. He’s a good athlete. He’s dangerous. And this is a great experience to get better fast.”
Conforto has been enjoying the ride. “It seems like every game I hit a ball hard. But I wasn’t getting a lot of hits. Terry and the coaches kept saying, “Stay with it.” Neither of those at-bats was I going up with the idea of hitting a home run. Just going up there and trying to put a good swing on it. The first one was the first pitch I saw, and the second one was with two strikes, and I got the bat head on the ball.”
The lefthanded hitting outfielder was unaware after the game that he had tied a record achieved only by a Hall of Famer for the Mets.
“That’s awesome. Very cool.”
The game giveth, and the game taketh away. From the highs of possibly getting the winning hits and RBIs to watching the Royals claw back – albeit on Met mistakes – and be one step closer to a Championship.
“It’s all really humbling and exciting. I’ll always remember the feeling on those two home runs. But it’s a bit conflicting. We wanted that win tonight. But we’re not done. There’s no quit. There’s no panic. We’ve got a chance to come back tomorrow and win a game.”
Now the Mets have no choice. They have to win to keep going. Their next loss is their last loss of the year. And the last game of the World Series.
The Mets actually got the tying runs on base in the ninth against Royals closer Wade Davis. David Wright struck out to lead off the last licks. Daniel Murphy hit away from the shift and pounded a grounder to the shortstop hole, but Mike Moustaka couldn’t handle it. What could have been ruled an error was scored as a hit. Yoenis Cespedes singled to right center.
And then with Lucas Duda as a potential hero, where he could have had his Gary Carter or Todd Pratt or Robin Ventura or even Mookie Wilson moment, he lofted a soft liner to Moustakas (again, away from the shift, which was a good sign), but Moose rifled it to first to double off Cespedes. Game over. Mets fans sad.
Collins admitted afterward Cespedes wandered a little too far to his right. “The first thing on his mind was to score on a ball in the gap but he got too far off.”
Attendance set a new record for Citi Field, with 44,815 paid. The total attendance thus far for the first games topped 170,000. And why is this significant? It establishes the cumulative World Series financial figures and what every player and team earns.
Net receipts nearly reached $35 mil. The player’s pool was just shy of $21 mil. The commissioner’s office gets over $5 mil. And each club pockets $2, 616,657.01, just in case you were wondering.