The Mets' season turned around when a player got emotional on the field when he thought he would have to leave the team. Last night, a player got emotional in the dugout when he thought he would have to leave the game. Unfortunately, Matt Harvey did not get the storybook ending Wilmer Flores got when he hit a walkoff homer two nights after thinking he had been traded. But the passion and determination of an outclassed Mets team to get to the World Series and put up a good fight against the Kansas City Royals made 2015 a memorable season.
Though the Mets went down in the series four games to one, the two teams were a lot more evenly matched than the final result would indicate. After all, the Mets had the lead in the ninth inning twice and the eight inning once in three of their losses. But when the other team comes back to win that many times, you have to acknowledge that they were the better team and more deserving of victory.
Dominant starting pitching backed by good hitting can get you to the World Series even if your defense is shaky, your bullpen is questionable, and your manager makes mistakes. But there's little margin for error against a team like the Royals, and even one of the most dominant pitching performances in Mets postseason history could not save them last night.
I liked the idea of Harvey coming out for the ninth, even though it went against his numbers showing that it was best to pull him after he had thrown 100 pitches. But at 102 pitches going into the ninth and a packed house screaming for Harvey, I have no problem with Terry Collins sending the Dark Knight out for the ninth. It also gave Harvey a chance to show once and for all that he really was willing to put Scott Boras' innings-limit circus behind him.
That said, once Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain on seven pitches, bringing his pitch total to 109, he should have been pulled. I am admittedly writing this in hindsight; at the time, I wanted Harvey to get another batter. But Collins' bullpen strategy fell apart the last few nights. He brought in Jeurys Familia Friday night in a 9-3 game to get him some work. But then he said he could not use Familia for two innings Saturday night because of the unnecessary Friday inning. And with numerous other options, Collins stuck with using Tyler Clippard as the bridge to Familia, only to see Clippard end up with the loss.
Using Familia in the Game 3 blowout was a way to enable him to regain his confidence. But maybe it was Collins who needed to regain his confidence after his bullpen moves backfired on Saturday, because he did not act decisive about what to do until after Harvey gave up the double to Eric Hosmer and another Royals comeback was underway.
Lucas Duda made a terrible throw to the plate to allow Hosmer to score the tying run, but David Wright cutting in front of Wilmer Flores to nab Salvador Perez' grounder probably also played an important role in the disastrous play. Had Flores made the play, Wright could have stayed closer to third base, making it harder for Hosmer to break for the plate. And Flores, in better position than Wright and with a better arm, probably would have gotten the ball to Duda faster, so if Hosmer still ran, Duda would have had more time to throw home and maybe would not have rushed his throw.
Duda's bad throw meant that three of the Mets' four infielders had critical miscues in this series. In five games, Murphy and Wright were each charged with two errors and Duda was charged with one (not last night, when his bad throw was not ruled an error). Only Flores, who was not even supposed to be the shortstop before Ruben Tejada got hurt, avoided an E next to his name.
Last night, the Mets got only four hits, and that was in 12 innings. On Saturday night, they got just six hits and in Game 2, only two hits. For the Series, the team hit just .193. It's hard to win a World Series with that little production.
Once the game went into extra innings and the Mets had to go deeper into their bullpen, it was hard to have much confidence, especially considering the way this Series had gone so far. A five-run twelfth by the Royals just emphasized that as close as this Series seemed at times with the Mets constantly getting late inning leads, the Royals were the superior team.
In 1984, the Mets won 90 games after years of losing, but it would be another two years before they made it to the World Series. In 2015, the Mets won 90 games after years of losing, and got to the World Series on their first try. Despite the way it ended, this season has to be considered a huge success overall.
And let's not forget who won the World Series the year after the Royals' last title in 1985. Wait till next year! Let's go Mets!