Rios' gaffe opens door for Mets to capitalize

Thinking Granderson's fly ball is third out, KC right fielder makes casual catch

Rios' gaffe opens door for Mets to capitalize

NEW YORK -- What could have been a key play that haunted right fielder Alex Rios for quite some time instead turned into just a puzzling afterthought.

The Mets built a one-run lead in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday somewhat on the strength of a mental blunder by Rios. Fortunately for him, the Royals came back to win, 5-3, and take a 3-1 Series lead.

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With one out in the third inning and the Mets already up, 1-0, New York's Wilmer Flores was standing on third when Curtis Granderson lifted a fly to medium short right. Rios positioned himself as though he were going to catch the ball and use his momentum to throw home.

Game Date Matchup
Gm 1 Oct. 27 KC 5, NYM 4 (14)
Gm 2 Oct. 28 KC 7, NYM 1
Gm 3 Oct. 30 NYM 9, KC 3
Gm 4 Oct. 31 KC 5, NYM 3
Gm 5 Nov. 1 KC 7, NYM 2 (12)

But then, to the surprise of Royals fans and coaches, Rios began jogging in toward the dugout. By the time he realized his error, his throw home was too late to get Flores, and the Mets led, 2-0.

"It's a mental mistake," Rios said. "What do you do? You can't hang your head. You have to continue to compete."

When did he realize he had miscalculated the number of outs?

"I heard Lorenzo [Cain] screaming," he said. "That's when I knew."

Asked if Rios explained what had happened, manager Ned Yost said, "I didn't talk to him, but I think he probably forgot how many outs there were."

Should that happen at this level?

"What do you think?" Yost asked.

Actually, Rios said it's not that unusual.

"It's happened a few times before to me," Rios said. "It usually happens with long innings, and you start to think there are two outs."

Shouldn't teammates constantly remind one another of the number of outs?

"We shouldn't need a babysitter about that," Rios said. "That should be up to us. We need to keep track."

The play actually had some additional drama. Replays seemed to indicate that Flores left third base early, so the Royals challenged, but the call stood.

"It didn't really surprise me," Yost said, "because when we called -- we've got Billy Duplissea and Mark Topping, two of the best replay analyst guys -- and they said, 'Look, he left early, but it's going to be really, really close. I don't know if we'll get the call or not, but let's give it a shot.' So going into it, we knew that it was going to be really, really close. And I still haven't seen the replay."

But thanks to yet another amazing late rally, it didn't matter. Bullet dodged.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.