The New York Mets were two outs away from winning a pivotal Game 1 of the World Series and stealing home field advantage from the Kansas City Royals. But, Mets closer Jeurys Familia took a gamble and blew the lead and the Mets eventually lost 5-4 in 14 innings
With one out in the ninth and a 4-3 lead for the Mets, Familia gave up a home run to Royals outfielder Alex Gordon. That tied the game and sent it into extra innings where the Royal would eventually win on a sacrifice fly by Eric Hosmer in the 14th inning
But it is the pitch to Gordon in the ninth that will haunt the Mets if they don’t come back to win this series.
With a 1-1 count, Familia decided to “quick pitch” Gordon. That is, he sped up his delivery trying to catch Gordon unprepared. The delivery was so quick, the Fox camera was still on a close-up of Familia and wasn’t ready to show the pitch.
To give you a better sense, here is an earlier pitch in the at bat, where Familia brings his glove all the way back down to his stomach and pauses before throwing the pitch. This is his standard pitch delivery.
Former Mets pitcher Bobby Ojeda was a guest on ESPN Radio and explained the benefit and the risk that comes with trying to be sneaky in that situation.
“The thing about a quick pitch is two things. One, what makes it successful is that it is a surprise. I’m getting you not ready. I’m not locating [the pitch]. I’m not trying to locate it. It’s never going to be a curveball. It’s never going to be a slider. It’s a fastball. I’m trying to catch you napping. The problem is it is a dangerous pitch. We saw that pitch, up, out over the plate … It’s a very expensive gamble that Familia took, on a huge stage, at huge point in the game.”
This is a bad location for a pitch no matter how hard a pitcher is throwing.
Another problem is that the added surprise is more effective if it is not used very often. After the game, Gordon explained that he was ready for the quick pitch because he had seen Familia use it on the previous batter, Salvador Perez.
“I saw [the quick pitch] with Salvy,” Gordon told the media. “When I got up there, I usually like to get loose, but I got ready right away just to make sure.”
In fact, Familia had used the quick pitch twice to Perez. The first one clearly caught Perez off guard as he was late with his swing and gave Familia a little smile. Notice here that Familia does not bring the glove all the way down to his stomach.
There is still a long ways to go in this series, but this loss hurts for the Mets as they were 78-2 entering the World Series when they had the lead to start the ninth inning.
Here is the home run by Gordon.
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