Author: Bill Baer

Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer celebrates after scoring past New York Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud during the ninth inning of Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Video: Eric Hosmer risks it all to score the tying run


Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer played a monumental role in the Royals’ come-from-behind victory in Game 5 of the World Series, the clincher. He drove in the Royals’ first run with a line drive double to left field in the ninth inning, making it a 2-1 game. He moved to third base on a ground out, and represented the tying run 90 feet from home plate.

Salvador Perez then hit a weak grounder to the left side of a drawn-in infield. Third baseman David Wright snagged the ball, looked Hosmer back, then crow-hopped to make a throw to first base. Hosmer dashed home. He was a dead duck if Lucas Duda could make an accurate throw to catcher Travis d'Arnaud. He didn’t, and the game was tied.

The Royals are finished in Game 5 if Hosmer makes the out. Who knows what would have happened if the series were sent back to Kansas City for Games 6 and 7. It was a bad decision, but it panned out anyway.

Terry Collins partially to blame for Mets’ World Series defeat


Mets manager Terry Collins, in his team’s five-game defeat in the World Series against the Royals, was out-managed by opposing skipper Ned Yost. There were plenty of mistakes, including poor defense on several occasions, but Collins will deservedly draw a not-insignificant percentage of the culpability.

It started in Game 3, when Collins called on closer Jeurys Familia to pitch the ninth inning, when the Mets were leading by six runs. Familia needed only 11 pitches, but it was an unnecessary expenditure by Collins. Throwing those 11 pitches — not to mention warming up — has a non-zero effect on him going forward.

In Game 4, Familia should have started the eighth inning, when the Mets were protecting a 3-2 lead. Instead, Tyler Clippard started and issued back-to-back one-out walks. Daniel Murphy then committed an awful error on an easy ground ball, and from there the Royals had the game in the bag. Had Familia not pitched in Game 3, perhaps Collins would have been more willing to have him go for six outs in Game 4.

Starter Matt Harvey was rolling in Game 5, shutting out the Royals through eight innings. On the FOX broadcast during the bottom of the eighth inning, Harvey could be seen receiving the news from pitching coach Dan Warthen that he wouldn’t be pitching the ninth. “No way,” Harvey said. He went to Collins in the dugout and argued his way back out to the mound to start the ninth inning. Harvey issued a leadoff walk to Lorenzo Cain, then a run-scoring double to Eric Hosmer. Familia finally came in, but he was hurt by a poor throw by first baseman Lucas Duda, saddling him with undeserved blown saves in back-to-back appearances.

One wonders if the prospect of Familia pitching three games in a row influenced Collins’ decision to relent to Harvey. That he could be talked out of a decision at all by a player certainly does not paint him in a good light.

It all stems back to that one decision in Game 3 to use Familia when it wasn’t necessary. It all snowballed from there.

Royals defeat Mets 7-2 in 12 innings, winning their first World Series since 1985


A ninth-inning rally and a 12th-inning tiebreaking RBI single by Christian Colon sent the Kansas City Royals to their first championship since 1985. It was a game the Mets appeared to have comfortably in the bag, considering how well starter Matt Harvey was pitching. But as the Royals have shown time and time again, you can never count them out.

The Mets quickly took a 1-0 lead when Curtis Granderson led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run against Royals starter Edinson Volquez. Harvey proved, through eight innings, it was all the offense he required. The Mets gave him an insurance run in the sixth on a Lucas Duda sacrifice in the sixth inning. That inning also included what appeared to be an ugly injury to Yoenis Cespedes after he fouled a ball off of his left knee. He completed his at-bat but was replaced in the outfield the next inning by Juan Lagares. Cespedes was diagnosed with a contusion and thankfully avoided a fracture.

After Harvey completed the eighth inning in strong fashion, he was informed by pitching coach Dan Warthen he would not be returning to the mound in the ninth inning to complete his start. Harvey apparently made a compelling argument to manager Terry Collins, as closer Jeurys Familia remained in the bullpen and Harvey toed the slab to begin the ninth.

Harvey worked a full count against leadoff batter Lorenzo Cain before throwing ball four. Cain stole second base, and scored when Eric Hosmer ripped a double over the head of Michael Conforto in left field. Familia was finally brought in. He induced a grounder to the right side from Mike Moustakas, pushing Hosmer to third base. The Mets’ infield was drawn in, and Salvador Perez hit what appeared to be an easy second out, a grounder to third base, for the Mets that would prevent the runner at third from scoring. However, third baseman David Wright made a crow-hop in throwing to first base. Hosmer bolted home, and first baseman Lucas Duda made an errant throw to catcher Travis d'Arnaud. The game was tied at 2-2.

The two clubs would trade zeroes until the 12th inning. In the 12th, Mets reliever Addison Reed allowed a leadoff single to Perez. The speedy Jarrod Dyson entered the game as a pinch-runner for Perez and stole second base, the Royals’ fourth stolen base of the game. Alex Gordon hit a ground out to first base, which allowed Dyson to move to third. The next batter, Christian Colon, hit a line drive single to left field, plating Dyson to break the 2-2 tie. It didn’t stop there. Paulo Orlando appeared to hit an inning-ending double play to second baseman Daniel Murphy, but Murphy — as he did in Game 4 — booted the ball and no outs were recorded.

Following that, Alcides Escobar doubled to left field, adding an insurance run, putting two more runners in scoring position, and chasing Reed from the game. Bartolo Colon came in and Cain drilled a bases-clearing double to left-center, pushing the lead to 7-2. Colon was able to get out of the inning mercifully with no further damage.

Closer Wade Davis took over in the bottom half of the 12th and, as he has done so often, dominated the opposition. He struck out Duda and d’Arnaud, then worked around a single by Michael Conforto by striking out Wilmer Flores looking.

The Royals succeeded against the Mets in large part because they’re an aggressive-running, high-contact team. Only one American League team — the Astros — had more stolen bases than the Royals’ 104 during the regular season. No team struck out less often than the Royals during the regular season, getting a third strike in fewer than 16 percent of their plate appearances. The Royals went 6-for-6 stealing bases against the Mets in the World Series while racking up double-digit hits in three of five games. They had nine and seven hits in the other two.

But the Mets also made more than their fair share of mistakes, both by the players and by the manager (as I will explain in a separate column). Murphy made two devastating defensive mistakes, and Duda’s throw in the ninth inning could have ended Game 5 rather than extending it. This is not to take anything away from the Royals, but every success has a counterpart in failure.

The Royals, who narrowly lost last year’s World Series, have finally reached the promised land. The difficult decision-making doesn’t stop here, however, as they’ll head into an off-season in which they’ll see Alex Gordon, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist head into free agency while more than a handful of players will earn increasingly more money in arbitration. Their ability to deal with a changing roster will determine whether or not they’ll be able to repeat in 2016.

Royals score twice in the ninth to tie Game 5

Jeurys Familia
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

They say that cockroaches could survive a nuclear winter. Perhaps the Royals could, too. Down 2-0 in the top of the ninth inning against a seemingly-unhittable Matt Harvey, the Royals staged a rally to tie the game and put themselves in a great position to win the World Series.

Harvey had, to that point, thrown eight shutout innings. Pitching coach Dan Warthen informed the pitcher in the bottom of the eighth, when the Mets were batting, that he wouldn’t be returning to the mound for the ninth. A visibly upset Harvey stomped over to manager Terry Collins and pleaded his case. To a cheering crowd at Citi Field, Harvey indeed took the ball to start the ninth inning.

The fairy tale didn’t have the storybook ending. Harvey issued a leadoff walk to Lorenzo Cain, who promptly stole second base with ease. Eric Hosmer then drilled a line drive double over the head of left fielder Michael Conforto, allowing Cain to score the Royals’ first run. That, naturally, prompted Collins to emerge from the dugout and bring in closer Jeurys Familia as was the original plan.

Familia got Mike Moustakas to ground out, but it was to the right side, which moved Hosmer to third base. Salvador Perez appeared to give the Mets a gift, hitting a weak grounder to third base. Because the infield was drawn in, David Wright and shortstop Wilmer Flores were close together. There was a bit of miscommunication on the play. Flores could have fielded it with better position, but Wright got it and did a crow-hop throw to first base. Hosmer took advantage, motoring home. First baseman Lucas Duda made a wide throw to catcher Travis d'Arnaud, and so Hosmer scored the tying run. With a better throw, he makes the final out of Game 5.

Though the blown save in Game 5 wasn’t really his fault, Familia got a blown save. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Familia is the first reliever with three blown saves in one post-season since Yankees legend Mariano Rivera in 2004.

The Mets went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, so Game 5 is headed to extras. In order to stay alive, the Mets need to pull this one out.

Yoenis Cespedes exits Game 5 after fouling a ball off of his leg

New York Mets' Yoenis Cespedes hits before Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Update #2 (10:45 PM EST): Cespedes has a contusion, but not a fracture. He’s considered day-to-day, per Rosenthal.


Update (10:32 PM EST): The injury is to the left kneecap of Cespedes, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.


Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had a chance to redeem his poor World Series performance when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs against Royals starter Edinson Volquez in the sixth inning of Game 5 of the World Series. Unfortunately, he fouled an 0-1 pitch off of his knee and was in considerable pain. After being tended to by team trainers, Cespedes remained in the game to finish his at-bat. He popped up and continued to wince in agony as he swung and gingerly limped down the first base line.

The Mets were still able to add on to their lead, as Lucas Duda hit a sacrifice fly to center field to make it a 2-0 game.

Cespedes did not come back out to take his position for the top of the seventh inning.  He was replaced in center field by Juan Lagares.

Cespedes will undergo testing and more will be known about his condition later. We’ll pass information along as it comes in.