Tyler Clippard, the setup man, believes he set up Jeurys Familia for trouble. Daniel Murphy, whose fielding failed at the worst possible time, felt that way about himself too.
In the end, though, it was all on Familia, as it usually is for a closer. This time, all he wound up closing was what might have been the Mets' last best opening to win the World Series.
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"For me, I just try to forget and move forward," said Familia, who uncharacteristically failed to hold a lead for the second time in four games of this Series. Saturday night's 5-3 defeat will be tough to forget and move on from.
There will be the image of Clippard walking two batters with one out in the eighth. "One thing he doesn't do, he doesn't walk a lot of guys. And we don't walk a lot of guys, period," Terry Collins said.
Then there is the memory of Collins striding to the mound, summoning Familia to save the day. And there is the sight of Murphy letting the ground ball get under his glove, allowing the Royals to score the tying run.
Finally, there will be the haunting picture of Familia allowing two more hits, which gave the Royals the 5-3 lead. That will be the tableau in the mind's eye all winter if the Mets don't win the next three.
"Frustrating, very frustrating. Those are my runners out there. You're kind of just helpless at that point but it is what it is," said Clippard, who issued walks to Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain. "Everybody wants clean innings, no doubt about it. You come in with two runners on, one out, to start your outing. That's a tall task for anybody."
Familia said his goal was to get the first batter to hit a ground ball, which is what happened with slumping cleanup hitter Eric Hosmer. But Murphy did not field it. "Jeurys did his job. I didn't do my job. That's the frustrating thing," Murphy said.
By definition, a closer is supposed to clean up messes. Familia couldn't. He gave up a ground single to Mike Moustakas, just beyond Murphy's reach, and a more solid single to Salvador Perez. "I know it's part of the game," Familia said. "For me, I just try to be focused, try to get another ground ball, try to forget. Murphy, he's one of the best players we have here. He plays hard. He's one of the reasons we're still here. It happens."
Now the Mets have to overcome a loss that will be hard to forget. "It's just baseball. Unfortunately, two games got away from us late in games," Clippard said. "It doesn't normally happen. It's over. That's the best way I can describe it. It's over and there's nothing you can do about it. You've just got to put it behind you. As players, that's what we do best. There are ups and downs in the season, so we're used to it."