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Daniel Murphy’s defensive blunder allows Royals to come back and win Game 4, 5-3



All of the good Daniel Murphy did in hitting the Mets into the World Series unraveled on Saturday night, when his defensive miscue allowed the Royals to tie the game and then take the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Mets went on to lose 5-3. Instead of evening up the series at two games apiece, the Mets now find themselves one game from elimination.

Tyler Clippard began the eighth inning, but issued two one-out walks to Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain. Manager Terry Collins called on closer Jeurys Familia for a five-out save after using him to protect a six-run lead in Friday night’s win. Familia did his job — he induced a weak tapper from Eric Hosmer, an easy out at first base for second baseman Daniel Murphy. Only one problem: the ball skipped right under Murphy’s glove. Zobrist scored and no outs were recorded. Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez then hit consecutive run-scoring singles to give the Royals a 5-3 lead.

Things were going well for the Mets until then, all things considered. Rookie outfielder Michael Conforto provided the bulk of the offense, hitting solo home runs in the third inning (off of starter Chris Young) and in the fifth (off of reliever Danny Duffy). The Mets’ other run, which came after Conforto’s first homer, was a gift due to the absent-mindedness of Royals right fielder Alex Rios. With Wilmer Flores on third base and one out, Curtis Granderson lifted a fly ball to shallow right field. Rios had a very real chance to throw out Flores at home, except he thought the fly ball represented the third out. He camped under the ball, then had to make an awkward throw home and Flores scored easily.

The Royals’ two runs prior to their eighth inning ambush came on RBI singles by Alex Gordon (in the fifth) and Cain (in the sixth) off of Mets rookie starter Steven Matz. The lefty exited with no outs after allowing two consecutive hits to begin the frame. He finished having allowed two runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Young, his starting counterpart, was responsible for two runs on two hits and one walk with three strikeouts in four innings.

Royals manager Ned Yost called on closer Wade Davis to get the final six outs of the game after his team took the lead in the top of the eighth. Davis struck out Flores, got pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson to fly out, and Curtis Granderson to ground out to second base in a 1-2-3 frame. In the ninth, Davis allowed back-to-back one-out singles to Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes, but induced a double play when Lucas Duda hit a weak liner to third baseman Mike Moustakas, who then doubled off Cespedes at first base.

This is, no doubt, a crushing loss for the Mets. According to FanGraphs, the Mets were 83 percent favorites after Alcides Escobar grounded out for the first out of the eighth inning. That figure fell to 17 by inning’s end.

Collins’ decision to have Clippard start the eighth is one that will be second-guessed. He chose to use closer Jeurys Familia to close out Friday night’s Game 3, when the Mets had a very comfortable six-run lead. Had Familia not been used then, Collins may have been more willing to use Familia to record six outs as Yost did with Davis. Clippard hasn’t exactly been Mr. Reliable.

Leverage Index is a Sabermetric stat that measures the importance of a game event. A higher number denotes a more important event. The highest LI of the three at-bats in Familia’s ninth inning on Friday was .000. Clippard’s two at-bats versus Zobrist and Cain had LI’s of 0.61 and 0.88, respectively. Baseball is a game in which the game’s best hitters succeed only three times out of ten. Combine that with Familia’s superior skill and it’s a pretty obvious call who should’ve opened the eighth inning — if he hadn’t been unnecessarily used in Game 3. Murphy will draw most of the blame for the Mets’ loss in Game 4, but Collins deserves a share of it as well. Also, the Mets’ 2-through-6 hitters combined to go 2-for-18 with two singles and a walk.

The Royals will attempt to close out the World Series at Citi Field on Sunday night. Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez will oppose Mets right-hander Matt Harvey in a rematch of Game 1.

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”


The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.


Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.


Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”