Familia falters in 9th inning, Mets blow World Series opener
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Jeurys Familia finally cracked, at a terrible time for the New York Mets.
Matt Harvey had his chance to hold the lead, too.
And after two of their best pitchers botched Game 1, before an error by the captain wrecked it, the Mets find themselves in a World Series hole that hasn't been easy to escape.
A savior all season for the National League champs, Familia gave up a tying homer to Alex Gordon on a 97 mph fastball with one out in the ninth inning Tuesday night. David Wright's error at third base in the 14th inning set up the Kansas City Royals, who won 5-4 on Eric Hosmer's sacrifice fly off 42-year-old Bartolo Colon.
''I wanted to make it go away and I made it in the middle and up,'' Familia said. ''Everybody knows that if you make a mistake, you pay for it.''
Gordon's long drive to straightaway center field was a stunning blow off a lights-out reliever who was on a serious roll.
''He doesn't give up home runs. So we were all shocked by it. We liked where we were at,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said. ''Their team, one of the things we know about them is they're never down and out. We've got to put them away. We've got to do a better job.''
Familia had converted 21 consecutive save opportunities - including five in the playoffs - since coughing up a late lead in the rain against San Diego on July 30.
That was no doubt the nadir of New York's storybook season. The next day, the Mets traded for slugger Yoenis Cespedes and started a home sweep of Washington that wiped out their three-game deficit in the NL East.
Familia was a huge reason the Mets won their first pennant in 15 years, coming through in several pressure-packed situations this postseason. Three of his playoff saves required more than three outs, including two spotless innings to protect a one-run lead in the deciding Game 5 of the Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In fact, Familia had yielded only two hits and two walks in eight scoreless outings covering 9 2-3 innings this postseason.
''By no means do you feel like it's automatic against this team no matter who's out there on the mound. We've seen it all postseason. There's no lead that's safe,'' Wright said. ''They're going to do what they can to scratch and claw, and that's what they did tonight.''
Familia was called on early again at Kauffman Stadium and retired Mike Moustakas on a grounder with runners at the corners to end the eighth, momentarily preserving a 4-3 lead.
The closer set down Salvador Perez to start the ninth, then quick-pitched on a 1-1 count - something Familia likes to do on occasion.
This time, Gordon was ready. His home run was the first tying shot in the ninth inning or later of a World Series game since Scott Brosius connected for the New York Yankees against Arizona in 2001.
''The at-bat before with Salvy, I saw him quick-pitch. I wasn't expecting that and I wanted to make sure when I got in the box I was ready to hit,'' Gordon said. ''He tried to quick-pitch me and left the ball right there to hit.''
Familia, who allowed six homers in 78 innings during the regular season, might have had a cushion if Harvey had shut down the resilient Royals. The star right-hander was given a 3-1 lead, but squandered it in the sixth inning.
He permitted a leadoff double and a single before Hosmer's first sacrifice fly made it a one-run margin. Lorenzo Cain stole second and Harvey went after Moustakas with first base open and two outs.
Moustakas made the Mets pay with a tying single to center.
''I didn't feel great. I didn't have my good stuff,'' Harvey said. ''There's a lot of disappointment in giving up those runs because in my mind if I hadn't done that, obviously the game wouldn't have dragged on as long as it did.''
New York went back in front on Hosmer's uncharacteristic error at first base in the eighth, but was unable to close it out.
''It seemed like a roller-coaster ride, for sure,'' Wright said. ''Every time it seemed like we got momentum, they crawled right back.''
Wright was caught stealing in the ninth and struck out with a chance to put the Mets ahead in the 11th. And when it was finally over after 5 hours, 9 minutes, New York was in a precarious position: The loser of Game 1 has dropped 11 of the last 12 World Series and 16 of the past 18.
''I think we still have our normal confidence. We realize it's a seven-game series. There's no panic whatsoever,'' Harvey said.