Although New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey faltered in the 9th inning, he and Terry Collins shouldn’t be blamed for the loss.
By Robby Sabo
Instead of jubilation, there is despair. For the New York Mets, their fans, and many in the surrounding area of Flushing and the five boroughs on this Monday morning, thoughts of “what could have been” run rampant.
This torturous feeling started just as the clock literally struck midnight Sunday evening. Of course, we already know what went down.
One of the Mets collection of superheroes, Matt Harvey, talked his way back onto the mound in the 9th inning of a 2-0 Game 5 of the World Series. This, despite Terry Collins having pitching coach Dan Warthen deliver the bad news to The Dark Knight that he would, indeed, be pulled for closer Jeurys Familia.
As superheroes tend to do, Harvey fought his way back into the action. No chance he’d allow somebody else finish what he started: an eight-inning masterpiece featuring no runs, just four hits, and nine exhilarating strikeouts.
He had everything working. His fastball was challenging, slider wicked, and change on point. Once he struck out the side in the fourth, everybody knew what we were witnessing. Harvey even knew it as he let out an emotional roar fit for only a caped vigilante.
Finally, somebody took Daniel Murphy’s place as the true hero of the club, and at quite the perfect time: the World Series.
Only one important matter remained: the final inning.
Up to that point, we thought of World Series classics hurled by names like Curt Schilling and Jack Morris. We thought Matt Harvey, had finally arrived on the big stage – something he’s always wanted since his drafting as the No. 7 selection in the 2010 draft.
What stood in Harvey’s way were three big outs. And while jubilation remained the theme as Harvey took the mound in the 9th inning as the newest re-born rockstar in the Big Apple, fear regarding the Kansas City Royals sat in the back of the mind.
These guys do not die.
We saw it in Game 1, when Alex Gordon got to the previously red-hot Jeurys Familia. We also saw it in Game 4, when Tyler Clippard got the eighth off to a rocky start and Daniel Murphy helped the cause in the field.
Finally, we witnessed it again in Game 5. Facing a critical 3-2 pitch to the pesky Lorenzo Cain, Harvey missed by the slimmest of margins. It will certainly be a pitch that’ll keep him up at nights this winter. Then, an RBI double from Eric Hosmer finally touched up The Dark Knight for the first time.
Familia came in a bit too late for Collins’s gut, and Hosmer took one of the more risky, yet rewarding plays in World Series history. Had Lucas Duda thrown a good ball to Travis d’Arnaud at home, we’d be discussing the pitching matchup of Jacob deGrom and Johnny Cueto at this very moment.
Hosmer isn’t in the screen when the ball hits TDA’s mitt. Stfu about how smart Hosmer. It was ALL the error. pic.twitter.com/uuDfvfFPZ1
— Paul Sporer (@sporer) November 2, 2015
Why Collins blames himself to such an extensive degree, I’ll never quite understand, via CBS New York:
“Obviously I let my heart get in the way of my gut,” Collins said early Monday after a crushing season-ending, 12-inning 7-2 defeat. “I love my players. And I trust them. And so I said, ‘Go get ’em out.’” “I won’t be sleeping much the next couple of days, I’ll tell you that,” he said
Harvey had thrown 101 pitches up to that point. He was dominating at every turn. Once upon a time he literally represented the first star for the Mets in this most recent franchise turnaround from misfortune to burgeoning young contenders.
How fitting was it that he was the man in question? The guy with the 180-inning question marks, ends the Mets season pleading for just one-more inning.
Not only should he have received the ball in that instance, he deserved the ball.
Collins made the right move. Harvey just didn’t get the job done – something he needed to do if he truly wanted to stand out as immortal from the crowd.
Moreover, it’s not as if Familia had been lights out in the series. He had already gotten beaten up in Games 1 and 4, respectively. Who knows what Kansas City would have done to the Mets usually lights-out closer.
Where Collins should find trouble sleeping this winter is the decision to bring in Tyler Clippard in Game 4. When the season is literally hanging in the balance, the last guy Collins should have given the ball to was Clippard. Nice guy, usually solid – but 2015 was clearly not his year. He shouldn’t have been the 8th-inning man from the start of the postseason, no less the World Series.
Collins was playing with fire all playoffs long running out Clippard.
Clippard aside, where the blame truly lies in this World Series is in the lineup.
New York is a power hitting, power pitching team whose strength lies in the starting staff. We all knew the formula to knock off the Royals – to jump on them early and take advantage of the clear starting pitching advantage.
The Mets continually failed to do this.
In Game 5, the lineup collected just four hits. One of which came off the bat of young Michael Conforto in the bottom of the 12th-inning when all hope was already lost.
In Game 2 they could only muster two hits and in Game 4 only six hits. Not producing consistent production from an offensive perspective is where this World Series was lost. The Mets needed another hero in the lineup, other than Daniel Murphy, and they didn’t find one.
Guys like Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto and Chris Young cannot dominate if you have any designs on winning a World Championship.
Their deficiencies in the field, on the base-paths, and in the bullpen were obvious. Actually, it was surprising it hadn’t hurt them prior in the playoffs. The reason they breezed through the NLCS was simple: they jumped all over the Chicago Cubs. Early and often.
That was the only formula for success against the Royals. It took a superhuman effort from Madison Bumgarner to derail them in 2014.
Unfortunately, the Mets superheroes during this World Series weren’t backed up by enough solid play. Until further notice, only Mad-Bum can do it alone.
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