NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Kansas City Royals rejoiced at a mission accomplished, while the New York Mets bemoaned some sloppy fielding and dubious managerial moves in the 111th World Series.
The American League Royals ruled after executing their third crucial, late-inning rally in a clinching 12-inning victory against the National League champion Mets in the wee hours of Monday morning in New York.
It was their eighth come-from-behind win of the postseason, a stunning achievement even for a team as difficult to put away as the Royals.
Kansas City, stung by a near miss in last year’s World Series when their rousing run as a Wild Card team fell short in a Game Seven against the San Francisco Giants, were on a mission to go one step further in 2015 and were not to be denied.
Their 7-2 victory at Citi Field in Game Five gave them the Major League Baseball title by 4-1 in the best-of-seven Fall Classic.
The Kansas City comeback crew rallied in the ninth of Game One, the eighth inning of Game Four and again in the ninth of the Series-clincher with a relentless determination and dogged exercise of fundamentals that ended a 30-year title drought.
“The way it ended last year, with everything that happened and such a magical run, you knew it couldn’t end like that,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said during the team’s celebration on the Citi Field diamond.
“The ending of that story had to be way better than losing Game Seven.”
Moving baserunners along with grounders, stealing bases to get into scoring position and daring the Mets to make plays under pressure paid off for a Royals club that did not rely on home runs and relished the good that can come from simply putting the bat on the ball.
Catcher Salvador Perez was named the Series MVP, but the award could just have easily gone to Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar or closer Wade Davis.
Fittingly, the go-ahead run in the 12th on Sunday was driven in by utility infielder Christian Colon with a line single in his first at-bat of the postseason.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia goes down as having blown three saves in the Series, but the reliever was set up to fail by the situations he was brought into.
Familia, who had not blown a save in more than two months prior to the Series, failed on his own in Game One when he gave up a massive, game-tying home run to Alex Gordon in the bottom of the ninth in an eventual 14-inning loss in the opener.
But after using Familia to mop up a 9-3 win in Game Three, Mets manager Collins was loathe to use him for a six-out save in Game Four and only called him into the eighth inning to protect a 3-2 lead after Tyler Clippard walked the first two batters.
Familia did his job, getting ground balls from Royals hitters, but a slow roller was muffed by second baseman Daniel Murphy for an error that led to a 5-3 defeat.
New York led 2-0 heading into the ninth on Sunday, but instead of calling on Familia to close it out, he allowed starter Matt Harvey to talk him into finishing it by himself.
After a walk and a ringing double by Hosmer made it 2-1, Collins summoned Familia, who got two more grounders but the second one scored Hosmer on a wide throw by first baseman Lucas Duda to home plate.
Collins said the game-plan had been to give the ball to Familia for the ninth.
“‘I want this game. I want it bad. You’ve got to leave me in,’” Collins said Harvey told him in the dugout.
“Obviously I let my heart get in the way of my gut,” admitted Collins. “I love my players. And I trust them.”
Hosmer said the Royals’ approach to building rallies made for Kansas City’s happy ending.
“We believe in each other. You believe in the guy next to you and you realize you don’t have to do it all by yourself,” Hosmer said. “If you just do your part, we have a good chance at coming back, we’ve got a good chance at winning ballgames.
“That’s something we’ve all believed in, something we all bought in since day one and that’s why we’re world champions.”
Editing by Andrew Both