The Mets had a great chance to tie the World Series up last night, taking a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning, only five outs away from the win. With runners on first and second, Eric Hosmer hit a manageable grounder to Daniel Murphy at second base. Instead of making the double play to end the inning or even just getting Hosmer, Murphy missed the ball, allowing Ben Zobrist to score and giving the Royals the window they needed to score two more and take the game, 5-3. Fangraphs says that the error on its own reduced the Mets’ chances of winning the World Series by 13%.
This was obviously a brutal way for the Mets to lose, especially given the predicament they now find themselves in. To even force a Game 7, they’ll have to beat both Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto. The hard-throwing Mets’ pitching staff is going to have to find a way to make Royals’ hitters miss, which they don’t do.
Murphy has had a postseason of extremes. He came into the World Series with a historic six-game home run streak, only to come back down to earth against the Royals, hitting a ghastly .176. After all the games he won for the Mets, costing them their most important one of the season is a cruel way for the laws of probability to work themselves out.
The loss isn’t completely on Murphy, of course. There’s a telling contrast between how Terry Collins and Ned Yost utilized their closers: Yost let Wade Davis shut down the Mets for two full innings, while Collins turned to Tyler Clippard before finally getting Jeurys Familia in there. Yes, Familia gave up a run, but he inherited a shit situation from Clippard, and was on the mound for the Murphy error.
The comeback win is the Royals’ seventh such win this postseason. Their ability to score runs late in games is unmatched (they’ve scored 44 runs after the sixth inning this postseason, by far the most of any team) and when you couple that with their commanding bullpen, you have a formula for a team who can shut down games in the late innings. The Mets had a chance to try to choke the life out of the game with Familia, and Collins even considered it, but his decisions to send him out for the ninth inning of a Game 3 blowout, then hold him back in a close game were nearly as critical to the loss as Murphy’s error.
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