Collins & Cespedes Blew It
The Mets were humming along through five innings. Steven Matz was good through five innings. At that point, he allowed five hits, one earned, no walks and five strikeouts. Watching the game, he was out of gas. It was a tremendous effort.
In the bottom of the fifth, Michael Conforto would hit the second of his two homeruns. This one coming off a lefty. The Mets had a 3-1 lead. The Royals only run to that point was the result of Yoenis Cespedes not hustling for a ball hit by Salvador Perez. I’m not saying it should’ve been caught. I’m saying it could’ve been caught. To make matters worse, he kicks it making a possible out a double.
Things were humming along, and then Terry Collins let the gassed Matz hit for himself. No one in the ballpark, not even Matz’s grandfather knew what he was thinking.
In a surprise to no one, a double and a single to start the sixth and the Royals narrowed the gap to 3-2. Collins had to burn through Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. Actually, he didn’t need to use Colon there, but Colon got the big strikeout to end the inning with the tying run at third. Seeing how Colon pitched, did he come on for the seventh? No, of course not. It’s the postseason, so you manage like its paint by numbers.
He used Addison Reed for the seventh. He got the Royals out 1-2-3 in quick fashion. Then Collins brings in Tyler Clippard. A man he had so much faith in in this pivotal inning that he started warming up Jeurys Familia immediately. By the way, you can’t have faith in Clippard. He’s been terrible lately. All postseason Collins has skipped him or quickly go to Familia.
Look if you have faith in Clippard, you don’t warm up Familia before he throws a pitch. You may ask why not Familia for six outs if you have him warming up so soon. The reason was Collins felt it important to have him close out a game with a six run lead last night. It compromised his ability to go six outs. It cost the Mets.
Clippard recorded the first out, but then he lost control. He then walked the next two batters. Familia came on and got a ground ball that Daniel Murphy booted. Tie game. A rejuvenated Royals team then starts hitting Familia. Two hits later and it’s a 5-3 game.
Now because Ned Yost didn’t waste his closer for useless innings last night, he could use Wade Davis for two innings. The Mets still had a chance. Murphy singled and then Cespedes singled. They’re in business. Tying runs on with Lucas Duda coming up. This is where Cespedes would put the capper on a lazy, baffling game.
Duda got one in his kitchen. He swung and hit a low bloop to Mike Moustakas. Everyone saw it was going to hold up for him, even the notoriously bad Baserunners Murphy. Not Cespedes. He’s almost on second when the ball is caught. Easy double play. Game over.
Another quick note on Cespedes that sums up his World Series perfectly: he constantly strikes out on balls in the dirt. Once he strikes out, he goes to the dugout. He doesn’t bother to look to run to first. He doesn’t adapt to how he’s being pitched. He won’t hustle after a strikeout.
Series isn’t over yet. The Mets still have their three best pitchers lined up. The three best starters in the series. Hopefully, Cespedes will actually hustle tomorrow. Hopefully, Collins will figure out how to become a good in game manager. Hopefully, the Mets can pull this off.