No one appreciates baseball's strange fates more than Jeurys Familia. He was just another guy in the bullpen for the Mets; then, before he knew it, he was a standout closer for a National League pennant-winner. He always accepted that appreciatively and humbly -- the same way he took it Sunday night when those fates turned against him.
Familia pitched perfectly. He did just what he wanted to do, getting three batters to hit weak ground balls. Except perfection wasn't good enough in Game 5 of the World Series. Because of the way his teammates performed on a crucial play, Familia went into the record book as the only pitcher with three blown saves in one Series.
There was nothing he could do but watch the tying run score in the top of the ninth. David Wright fielded Salvador Perez's grounder, looked at Eric Hosmer standing off third base and threw to first. Hosmer broke for the plate and first baseman Lucas Duda fired home to try to get him out.
Hosmer probably would have been out if Duda's throw had been as good as Familia's pitches. But it wasn't. The Royals drew even at 2-2 and went on to win the World Series clincher, 7-2, in the 12th.
"I mean, I understand this game. Anything can happen," Familia said in the clubhouse afterward. "Baseball is a crazy game. I just did my job and something happened. I just have to move forward.
"I wanted to save the game for my team and for [Matt] Harvey. But like I said, it's a crazy game," said Familia, who also pitched a perfect 10th.
If the game weren't so crazy, he might not have had the chance to emerge from a mundane role. Familia received the opportunity through injuries and Jenrry Mejia's suspension, and he ran with it.
The Mets were stunned when he allowed a tying ninth-inning home run in Game 1. Teammates felt bad for him when he suffered a second blown save in Game 4, in large part because he inherited two baserunners. Sunday night was even more unfair to a guy who bailed out his team almost nightly during the season.
"Duda didn't throw the ball the way he was supposed to," he said without any bitterness. Nor was he stunned that Hosmer pressed the issue by breaking for home. "They're an aggressive team,'' he said. "They did that the whole Series. I didn't want them to tie the game, but they scored and that's it.
"I know we lost the World Series, but I learned a lot. When the season started, nobody believed the Mets would be in this situation, getting to the World Series. It's amazing. I'm so happy for everybody.
"For me, it was something special, something amazing. I never thought in my life I would play in the World Series. I just thank God and my teammates and the team for giving me the chance to play over here and enjoy it."