By Joe Rini
“I let my heart get in the way of my gut,” Mets manager Terry Collins said about his ill-fated decision to have Matt Harvey start the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series on Sunday rather than bring in closer Jeurys Familia. Unfortunately for Collins, the Kansas City Royals exploited that decision and broke his heart by tying the game with two runs in the top of the ninth, the second scoring on a wild throw home by Lucas Duda with two outs. Then for good measure, the Royals figuratively punched Collins and the Mets in the gut by scoring five runs in the top of the twelfth inning on their way to a 7-2 victory and the 2015 World Series championship.
Following the unexpected success of the regular season and a magic run during the NLDS and NLCS, the Fall Classic was a bit of a letdown for the Amazins as they were clearly outplayed by their American League counterparts. The Mets squandered two-run leads in Games 1,4, and 5 as the Royals better executed the fundamentals on offense and defense, played more opportunistically, pitched better out of the bullpen, and came through in the late innings while the Mets struggled at the plate, in the field, and out of the bullpen.
Daniel Murphy, who played out of this world in leading the Mets through the NLDS and NLCS, came back down to earth in the World Series by hitting .150 and committing a key error in the eighth inning of Game 4. Yoenis Cespedes, who paced the Mets with 16 homeruns in his first 40 games in the orange and blue, struggled down the stretch and through the World Series as he too, batted a meager .150, suffering lapses in the field and on the basepaths.
Jeurys Familia was charged with three blown saves although the latter two were more due to shoddy defense behind him than his pitching. David Wright had a night to remember at the plate in Game 3 with a homerun and four RBI but he also had moments to forget in the field in Games 1 and 5. Overall, the Mets batted a lowly .193 during the series.
Michael Conforto was one of the few Mets who performed well at the plate. The rookie batted .333 with two homeruns in Game 4 while Curtis Granderson tied a Mets World Series record with three homeruns. Noah Syndergaard temporarily breathed life into the Mets with a gutsy performance in Game 3, a 9-3 Mets win, and caused a controversy when he admitted to throwing high and tight intentionally on his first pitch to leadoff batter Alcides Escobar.
Preparations for 2016 begin as the Mets are expected to announce a two-year contract extension for Terry Collins. The Mets will have a number of significant personnel decisions to make with Murphy and Cespedes entering free agency and the Mets not expected to re-sign either player. Collins, who took responsibility for allowing Harvey to convince him to start the ninth inning, also expressed some concern about his young staff’s workload and the shorter off-season but he added, “They learned how to get through this. They learned what it’s like to pitch in October and they’re going to be a lot better because of the experience.”
Thus ends the 2015 season. Despite the disappointing ending, just making it to the World Series made this one of the best seasons in franchise history. It was fun to cover a winning club this season and it’s always a privilege for me to cover the Mets win or lose. Thank you for reading my columns this season and get ready for a shorter off-season.