NEW YORK — The games change quickly, and the stories do, too. Baseball is a game meant to be judged over time, but the postseason gives us little, and the World Series gives us less.

One pitch. One home run. One little ground ball that rolls under a glove and into history.

“I wish I would have caught it,” Daniel Murphy said late on Halloween night, when the trick was on him.

They all wish he would have caught it, all the New York Mets and all their fans, everyone who remembers beginning the eighth inning of Game 4 with a little trepidation but a lot of hope of evening up this World Series with the Kansas City Royals. The Mets were five outs from doing just that, five outs from changing the Series and changing the story.

Michael Conforto was going to be the focus on this night, Conforto and another rookie named Steven Matz. They were going to be the reason the Mets were back in this, and Murphy’s World Series slump (2-for-16 with no RBI at that point) was going to be an unnoticed postscript to the home run streak that had carried the Mets here.

But then Tyler Clippard walked two straight batters. Then Mets manager Terry Collins went to closer Jeurys Familia, perhaps a batter too late but certainly early enough to get the job done, especially when Familia began his night by getting Eric Hosmer to hit a little roller to second base…

A little roller, yes, not exactly like the one Mookie Wilson rode into Mets and World Series history but not that dissimilar. A little roller Murphy charged and watched go right under his glove, which allowed Ben Zobrist to score the tying run and set up the inning that gave the Royals their 5-3 win Saturday night.

“Jeurys did his job,” Murphy said. “I didn’t do my job. … I just misplayed it.”

On all those nights when he hit all those home runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs, Murphy turned every postgame question into a chance to deflect praise to his teammates. On this one night when it all went so wrong, he kept all the blame for himself.

His teammates tried to help, with Mets captain David Wright repeating over and over that this was a team loss, not a Daniel Murphy loss.

“There’s a dozen different things we could have done to win this game,” Wright said. “[Murphy’s misplay] was not the reason we lost this game. That’s definitely not the reason we lost.”

There were other reasons. There are always other reasons. Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS was the Steve Bartman game, even though Alex Gonzalez’s error was just as (or more) costly. Game 6 of the 1986 World Series will always be the Bill Buckner (and Mookie Wilson) game, even though it was Bob Stanley’s wild pitch that cost the Boston Red Sox their lead.

October narratives are tough to break, and that was true even before we called them narratives. It’s just as true now, and a Mets postseason that was known before Saturday for Murphy’s seven home runs (including a record six in consecutive games) now could be known as the one that crashed on Murphy’s misplay.

That still says “could” because Saturday’s win was only the third for the Royals in this World Series. They need one more, and the Mets have Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard ready to start the three games they hope they’ll play.

The Mets still have hope, and Murphy still has time to change the story back.

“Without him, I wouldn’t be here,” Michael Cuddyer said. “He still has tomorrow, and I think he’s going to be a hero.”

The Mets are in need of multiple heroes now and probably in need of multiple hits, too. Conforto became the third-youngest player to homer twice in a World Series game (only Andruw Jones and Tony Kubek were younger), but his long balls gave the Mets just two runs. They scored a third only because Royals right fielder Alex Rios seemed to forget how many outs there were, and Wilmer Flores came home on a sacrifice fly.

A 3-2 lead and 15 outs from Matz put pressure on the weakest parts of the Mets, their middle relief and defense. Neither held.

Murphy has never been the strongest of defenders, a weakness easily overlooked when he hits the way he did for much of October. He hasn’t hit that way against the Royals, perhaps because of the Mets’ pre-Series time off or perhaps simply because no one stays that hot for too long.

“I’m just not getting any hits right now,” he said.

Murphy said he felt a little better in his later at-bats, including the one that resulted in an infield single in the ninth inning. He shrugged off a suggestion that he needs any mechanical changes.

“We’re running out of at-bats,” he said. “So hopefully, I can figure it out quickly.”

Things happen quickly this time of year, as Murphy knows all too well. Games change quickly, and stories change with them.

Sometimes all it takes is a little roller.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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