Familia formula backfiring for Mets in Series
Hurt by error, Clippard's walks in eighth, closer blows second save of Fall Classic
NEW YORK -- The Mets checked into this World Series believing that if they could just get the ball to Jeurys Familia with a lead, their chances of shaking hands in the middle of the infield were terrific. For the second time in three appearances, the dominant closer was instead on the wrong side of a Royals victory.
Familia induced the eighth-inning grounder that he craved in Saturday's Game 4 of the Fall Classic, but he watched as second baseman Daniel Murphy flubbed it for a run-scoring error. That opened the door for three Kansas City runs in a 5-3 Mets loss, seeing Familia charged with his second blown save of the Series.
"I know it's part of the game," said Familia, whose team will try to extend the Series in Sunday's Game 5 (8 p.m. ET on FOX). "For me, I just try to be focused and try to get another ground ball, try to forget it. Murphy, he's one of the best players we have here. He plays hard. He's one of the reasons we're still here."
An ineffective Tyler Clippard appearance started the trouble. Guarding a one-run lead, Clippard recorded a quick out of Alcides Escobar but issued back-to-back walks to Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain. Mets manager Terry Collins summoned Familia to extinguish the fire, asking the right-hander for a five-out save.
Familia recorded 43 saves with a 1.85 ERA during the regular season, but he blew Game 1 of the World Series when Alex Gordon hit a game-tying homer in the ninth inning. Collins used Familia to toss 11 pitches with a six-run lead in Game 3, polishing off the Mets' win on Friday, which seemingly affected Collins' usage of his closer Saturday.
"We thought we'd start [the eighth] with Clippard, and if the go-ahead run gets on, we'll go to Familia," Collins said. "And when he walked Cain, we said, 'We've got to go to Familia.'"
Familia said that he was able to keep his composure even after Eric Hosmer's game-tying grounder rolled past Murphy and stunned the crowd of 44,815 at Citi Field, but he couldn't stop the bleeding. Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez followed with run-scoring hits before Familia finally escaped on a double play started by Murphy.
"For me, in my mind, it's still the same," Familia said. "Every time I go to pitch, I just want to get a ground ball."
Clippard said that he regretted putting Familia in that situation, saying that he felt "helpless" watching the rest of the inning unfold.
"Anybody who's a reliever would prefer clean innings, no doubt about it," Clippard said. "You come in with two runners on and one out, and it's the start of your outing, that's a tall task for anybody. It's never a fun situation."
Back at Kauffman Stadium in Game 1, the Mets had been shocked when Familia's 97-mph sinker was hit over the center-field wall -- a true rarity, as he'd permitted just six homers all year. In Game 4, however, there were plenty of other problem areas to shine a spotlight upon.
"This guy is one of the best closers in the game. He's been lights out up to this point," Mets captain David Wright said. "To point a finger at anybody right now is ridiculous. We win as a team, we lose as a team. This is a team loss."
Familia said that he still believes that the Mets can recover from their 3-1 Series deficit.
"We can do it," Familia said. "We have the pitchers, we have the hitters. We just have to play hard. That's it."