NLDS, NLCS hero's miscue similar to those made by Teufel, Millan
By Marty Noble
NEW YORK -- When the Mets still dared to play Daniel Murphy in left field in 2009, a website was created to chronicle his adventures and misadventures. "Oh Murph!" was its name, and it was mostly supportive of the man the club expected to develop into a productive hitter.
And there is much more to say now. "Oh Murph, how could you?" comes to mind. Or "Oh Murph, you didn't." But he did. The Mets' second baseman allowed a soft Eric Hosmer ground ball to bounce under his glove Saturday night in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the World Series, and in so doing, he undermined the team his bat had carried into the best-of-seven Fall Classic against the relentless Royals.
The Royals are on the verge of their first World Series championship since 1985, and the Mets appear painfully close to an unrewarding ending to their remarkable season, in large part because of Murphy's misplay. It was the critical point in a three-run rally that changed a 3-2 Mets advantage to a 5-3 Royals win, and it changed Murphy's image from October hero to latter-day Bill Buckner.
The error stands as the most damaging by a Mets player in postseason play since Tim Teufel, also playing second base, allowed a ground ball to pass under his glove in the seventh inning of Game 1 of the 1986 World Series against the Red Sox. The lone run of the game scored on the error by the man who now serves as the team's third-base and infield coach.
On that night 29 years ago, the E in Teufel wasn't silent. And Saturday night, "Oh Murph" was unoffcially changed to "E-Murph."
Teufel's error was an unwanted reminder of another misplay at second base in the Mets' previous World Series foray. Sure-handed Felix Millan misplayed a ground ball in the second inning of Game 1 of the 1973 Fall Classic against the A's. The decisive run in a 2-1 loss scored on the error.
Murphy's defense has been above norm -- for him -- otherwise during the Mets' postseason run. Moreover, the Mets' up-the-middle defense has been better than expected. Wilmer Flores has distinguished himself at shortstop after taking over after Ruben Tejada was injured in the National League Division Series. But the middle-infield defense has been the soft underbelly of the team since Spring Training. Double plays not turned were damaging. Errant throws were not uncommon.
In the World Series, the Royals' contact hitting and ability to avoid strikeouts were expected to expose the Mets' defensive weaknesses at all positions, other than center field, right field and catcher.
And now it has. The Mets have not defended well. Too many of the Royals' run-scoring plays have come on misplays and errors, but the latest one is unquestionably the most damaging of them all.
Marty Noble is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.