There's not much worse than having your dominant closer give up the lead in the ninth inning of a World Series game. Unless he went in facing the 7-8-9 hitters. And the number 8 hitter smacked a 428-foot home run. And now that the game looked lost - a deflating homer, the game now to be decided by the middle relievers, a big disadvantage for the Mets - the teams continued to battle for five more innings before the Mets lost with the help of an error by the captain who had waited so long to get to the World Series.
This is a bad loss and potentially a fatal one. But let's not call David Wright and Jeurys Familia goats just yet. Wright has made several great plays in the field this postseason, including a leaping catch in yesterday's fourth inning. Familia's blown save was that much more disappointing because he's been so dominant in this postseason. Compare that to Armando Benitez, who blew the save in the last World Series Game 1 the Mets were in before yesterday. That postseason, Benitez had two saves and two blown saves. For his Mets career, he had three blown saves in six postseason chances. That's why he's remembered as a regular-season star who couldn't get it down in the postseason. Familia is now 5 of 6 in postseason save chances with an 0.82 ERA.
The Mets really seemed destined to win the game when Eric Hosmer, winner of the last two American League Gold Gloves at first base, allowed the go-ahead run to score when a ground ball got by him on a play that naturally brought up memories of Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series. If the Mets had gone on to win, the Royals would have been lamenting a loss due to one of their main strengths - defense - faltering at a critical moment. But one of the Mets' main strengths, Familia, returned the favor an inning later.
Along with Buckner in 1986 and Benitez in 2000, the game also brought back memories of the 1969 World Series, when Tom Seaver gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Don Buford, in Game 1. And my friend Roger suggests that five-tool centerfielder Yoenis Cespedes' mishandling of the ball that Alcides Escobar hit that went for an inside-the-park homer was reminiscent of the 1973 World Series, when the ultimate five-tool centerfielder, Willie Mays, was struggling in the outfield at the end of his career.
Just before Cespedes and Michael Conforto mishandled Escobar's fly ball, Cespedes was a no-show for the pregame introductions. That may mean nothing and may be a coincidence. Perhaps he had an upset stomach and did not feel like sharing the details. But this is the player who suddenly came down with an injury in Game 4 of the NLCS and he's already gotten the benefit of the doubt that it had anything to do with him playing golf that day. And then he shows up on the bench in the ninth inning of Game 4 wearing a championship shirt and goggles. Even Ron Darling in the TBS broadcast booth began muttering about the baseball gods. Maybe the baseball gods were hovering over centerfield last night.
The Royals lived up to their billing as a team that keeps coming back. Matt Harvey has gotten a lot of criticism for reduced velocity and not throwing enough fastballs last night, but he had allowed just one run going into the sixth inning, and that run was the tainted inside-the-park homer. But the Royals rallied for two runs to tie the game in the sixth, and Harvey was done after 80 pitches.
The Mets lost the first two games in 1986, and did so at home, so tonight is not necessarily a must-win. But it's pretty close.