The Royals came from behind to defeat the Mets by the score of 5-3 in Game 4 of the World Series to take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Mets.
Here are my takeaways from the loss…
Mets sprung a leak late in a deflating loss.
Simply put, this was a fantastic, well played game.
Until the eighth inning for the Mets.
The Mets got on the board first in this one in the third inning when Michael Conforto wrapped a ball around the fair pole for his second home run in the postseason. Then Wilmer Flores followed with a single, who advanced to second on a wild pitch with Steven Matz at the plate. Matz then had the opportunity to move Flores to third, which he did.
With one out, Curtis Granderson hit a flyball to Alex Rios in right field. The Mets caught a break, as Rios forgot the outs, and Flores was able to tag with essentially no contest.
That made the score 2-0, and that’s how things would stay until the fifth inning when the Royals began to figure out Matz.
Salvador Perez hit a one-out double to center, and Alex Gordon proceeded to single him in to pull Kansas City to within a run. Matz then allowed a two-out single to pinch hitter Kendrys Morales, but induced a flyball to Alcides Escobar for the third out.
After Conforto homered for the second time in this game in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Royals struck right back against Matz, who was clearly running on fumes in the sixth inning. He allowed a well struck double by Zobrist to leadoff the inning, and then an RBI single to Lorenzo Cain to make it a 3-2 ballgame.
That ended Matz’s night, and Terry Collins gave the ball to Jon Niese, who worked with Bartolo Colon to find three big outs and strand Cain – the tying run – at third base to end the frame.
Addison Reed gave the Mets a dominant seventh inning, but after inducing a comebacker to Alcides Escobar for the first out in the eighth, Tyler Clippard issued back-to-back walks to put the tying and go-ahead run on. That ended his night, as Collins went to Jeurys Familia for a five-out save.
But Familia could not convert. It was partially his own doing, but partially the doing of Daniel Murphy, who booted a routine play off the bat of Eric Hosmer with runners at first and second and one out.
That play tied the game, and only made his difficult World Series burn even more.
Then, Mike Moustakas singled in Cain to give the Royals the lead, and crush the Mets souls once again.
It’s officially a blown save by Familia, but the inning unraveled well before Familia even came in the game, which begs the question why he wasn’t in the game for a six-out save. That doesn’t mean Familia isn’t guilty of anything in his outing, but it wasn’t all on him, either.
But in the end, it’s just another case of the Mets just could not do the little things late to secure the win. This had nothing to do with the Royals ability to put the ball in play – it had everything to do with the Mets inability to play fundamentally sound baseball.
Like in Game 1, they beat themselves with poor pitching against a team who does not walk, and an abysmal play to open the floodgates for Kansas City, and put the Mets in a serious hole in this World Series.
The perceived achilles heal of this team – going all the way back to Spring Training – has badly burned the Mets in the final days of October. They cannot catch and throw the ball, and it’s why they are one loss away from finishing as the runner up in 2015.
And of course, the game ended on a mental mistake by Yoenis Cespedes who represented the tying run at first base with one out. He was doubled off with a runner in front of him. It was about as unacceptable as anything that happened in the eighth inning, but it couldn’t have been a more fitting end to a horrid game for the Mets.
A wasted effort from Michael Conforto.
There’s been an on-going debate as to whether or not the Mets should be starting Juan Lagares over Michael Conforto, but that debate was pretty much locked shut on Saturday night.
In fact, now a debate should start over whether or not Conforto should be starting full-time, including against left-handed pitching.
He had a night he won’t forget thanks to his two-home run night. He made some history in the process (see below), but he single-handedly carried this offense to an absolute must win with an epic performance in Game 4.
He wrapped an 87 mph fastball around the fair pole in right field in the third inning to give the Mets the lead. Then in the fifth inning against LHP Danny Duffy, Conforto was fooled on a change-up but kept his hands back just long enough to get the barrel of the bat on a floater down the middle to rope his second home run of the night.
That was his first home run in the big leagues off a left-handed pitcher.
Not bad for a guy who was in the Florida State League 5 1/2 months ago.
He’s going to be a star if he stays healthy. He’s a growing, maturing hitter, he is stunningly good in left field, he’s a super kid and a class act and is reaping the rewards of his unique talent on the biggest stage in the sport.
Unfortunately, his efforts at the plate went for naught, thanks to an unforgettable eighth inning on the part of the bullpen and the defense.
All heart from Steven Matz.
Matz was lights out good over the first four innings of this game. He had a wicked curveball, a sneaky 95 mph fastball working, and he had complete control of the inner part of the plate, specifically against the right-handed hitters. He got consecutive strikeouts looking on Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain to open the fourth inning on fastballs to paint the inside corner, but that was largely due to his ability to get ahead by pitching backwards in those sequences.
That was the story of his night, until he began to fade in the fifth inning.
His curveball began to get loopy in the fifth inning and his fastball lost quite a bit of zip, and the Royals began to take better swings against him at that point. They managed a run when Alex Gordon plated Salvador Perez with a single to right. He fought his way through the fifth inning and limited the damage to just one run.
But Collins put faith in his young left-hander and asked him to get some outs in the sixth inning. Unfortunately, he completely faded out when he allowed a leadoff double to Zobrist, and then Cain singled Zobrist in to bring the Royals back within one run.
That was it for Matz, who pitched his heart out and only faded presumably due to a lack of stamina.
A lot was on his shoulders tonight, and all things considered, he was fantastic. It’s too bad his outing got flushed down the drain.
A devastating loss.
There’s no other way to put it – this loss, and the way the Mets lost, was a bullet to the chest, and the Mets are on life support right now.
The last team to rally from a 3-1 World Series deficit was the 1985 Royals.
It’s a second missed chance to close out a game, and again, it can be chalked up to miserable defense and an inability by the bullpen to lock the game up.
It’s a shame, because its another game in this series where the Mets just beat the hell out of themselves and really should have won. And in the manner they did it is just soul crushing, especially after leading this game the entire night.
It’s a sickening loss. It’s bone crushing, and this one – like the loss in Game 1 – will most definitely torment the Mets all winter long if they cannot come back.
The fact that they could be – and probably should be – up 3-1 in this World Series makes it all even worse.
But they got what they deserved. When a team can’t play fundamentally sound baseball in a World Series game, it makes it next to impossible to win.
Other notes from Saturday:
Conforto became the youngest player to homer in a World Series game since Miguel Cabrera did so in the 2003 Fall Classic. He became the first rookie since Andruw Jones in 1996 to homer twice in a World Series game.
Conforto became the second Met to homer twice in a World Series game – Gary Carter hit two home runs in Game 4 of the 1986 World Series.
The Mets 1-6 in the order went 3-for-20 on Saturday.