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Terry Collins ran out of magic in Game 4

New York Mets manager Terry Collins (10) speaks

New York Mets manager Terry Collins (10) speaks to media during Game 5 of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Citi Field on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday/ Thomas A. Ferrara

This charmed postseason had extended to Terry Collins.

Pilloried and second-guessed all season, his every move dissected and scrutinized on the radio and social media, his job status in flux, the Mets' veteran manager suddenly couldn't miss in the playoffs.

The Mets seemingly had saved their best baseball for October. Collins followed suit. Every decision was gold. Then that good will crumbled, the victim of an implosion that could stain the Mets' first appearance on the sport's biggest stage in 15 years.

Indeed, there were plenty of reasons for the eighth-inning implosion in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night.

The Royals' relief corps, a force all season, again took measure of a Mets offense that virtually shut down once the bullpen doors swung open. Yet despite that reality, few of the Mets' missteps were as visible as Collins' decisions in the eighth.

Instead of asking for six outs from closer Jeurys Familia, just as he'd done with success in Game 5 of the NLDS, Collins went to Tyler Clippard.

It was Clippard's two walks -- and an error by Daniel Murphy -- that led to the Mets' 5-3 loss. With that, they had squandered their chance to even the series.

"Debbie told me that on the way home: 'Why didn't you bring in Familia?' " Collins said Sunday with a laugh, referring to his wife. "I said, 'Where were you when the decision was being made?' 'Oh, I was getting a taco.' "

In a way, since a flurry of moves reshaped the Mets' roster leading up to the trade deadline, Collins has been consistent. He has stuck with the players who brought him here -- a strategy that has been wise.

In NLDS Game 5, he gave a laboring Jacob deGrom plenty of leeway to navigate out of trouble. He responded by delivering a signature start, one of the best in an elimination game in the history of the franchise.

Lucas Duda struggled badly for much of the playoffs. But he has since broken out since his performance in Game 4 of an NLCS sweep against the Cubs.

Even on Saturday night, some of Collins' decisions put the Mets within five outs of evening the World Series. He used starters-turned-relievers Jonathon Niese and Bartolo Colon to navigate the sixth in relief of a tiring Steven Matz. They protected a 3-2 lead.

Michael Conforto's spot in the lineup had come under discussion with the coaching staff on Friday. They unanimously decided to leave him in leftfield despite a lack of results. And Conforto nearly powered the Mets on his own in Game 4, hitting a pair of solo homers.

Conforto joined Gary Carter, in Game 4 of the 1986 World Series, as the only two Mets to hit multiple homers in a World Series game. Conforto became the first to do it at home.

"You just go with what's been going for you," Collins said of Conforto.

But that decision ultimately carried fewer consequences than the way Collins ran his bullpen. As he has done since the trade deadline, he turned over a one-run lead to Clippard in the eighth inning.

Since a standout August, the righthander has lacked consistency, but he still got the call with the top of the lineup coming to bat. Clippard entered with a 4.26 ERA in the postseason, though he had pitched five scoreless outings, showing flashes of the form that made him a key addition from the A's.

"Clippard's been pitching good," Collins said. "He's pitched very well. The one thing we haven't done is walk guys."

But that's precisely what Clippard did, retiring Alcides Escobar before walking Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain.

"When he walked the second guy, I said, 'Well, the go-ahead run's on base now. I've got to go to Familia,' " Collins said.

Familia got Eric Hosmer to hit a grounder that trickled beneath Murphy's glove, allowing the tying run to score. From there, Collins watched from the dugout, his decision to stick with the script playing out before his very eyes.

"It's easy to second-guess every move that's made when it doesn't work, but that's what we've done, that's exactly what we've done," said Collins, who has positioned himself for a contract extension at season's end. "We've lined it up that way."

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