NEW YORK (AP) — Bartolo Colon’s early injury put the New York Mets in a major bind, but they won a battle of bullpens against the best relief corps in baseball and defeated the Kansas City Royals 2-1 on Tuesday night in a World Series rematch.
Yoenis Cespedes hit his 18th home run and Asdrubal Cabrera also connected for New York, which had lost three straight and six of eight.
Held to one hit and no other baserunners Sunday as lowly Atlanta capped a sweep at Citi Field, the Mets again had trouble generating offense. This time, however, a gritty Hansel Robles (1-3) and four other relievers bailed them out by combining for 8 2/3 stellar innings in the opener of a two-game set.
The Royals were back at Citi Field for the first time since clinching their World Series title last November with a late rally in Game 5. Still, manager Ned Yost insisted the trip was no sunny stroll down memory lane. The teams split a two-game series in Kansas City to open the regular season.
“Just another series,” Yost said before the game. “I don’t know if it’s weird or not. I mean, it was a great accomplishment, but it’s kind of in the rearview mirror in the middle of the season now.”
Hours earlier, the Mets announced a tweak to their pitching rotation. Colon was bumped up a day to start on regular rest, and Noah Syndergaard was pushed back one day to Wednesday afternoon.
But after only four pitches by the 43-year-old Colon, the defending NL champions were scrambling.
Royals leadoff batter Whit Merrifield hit a line drive that barely glanced off the pitcher’s glove and struck him hard on his right thumb.
The ball deflected to second baseman Neil Walker, who threw to first for an out. In the meantime, Colon shook his pitching hand in obvious pain and bent over at the waist as manager Terry Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez came rushing out of the dugout.
After a brief meeting near the mound, Colon walked off the field. Robles entered and was given all the time he needed to warm up.
X-rays on Colon’s thumb were negative, the Mets said.
Robles took over and provided yeoman’s work. After throwing 41 pitches Sunday, he threw 65 over 3 2/3 effective innings in this one and struck out six. The right-hander’s previous career highs were 52 pitches and three innings, in different games.
Robles finally tired in the fifth and gave up an RBI single to Brett Eibner with nobody out before Erik Goeddel pitched out of a jam. Goeddel tossed two scoreless innings before Jerry Blevins worked a perfect seventh and Addison Reed a 1-2-3 eighth.
Jeurys Familia struck out two in a one-hit ninth for his major league-leading 23rd save. Familia, charged with three blown saves in the World Series last year against the Royals, has converted a club-record 39 consecutive regular-season chances dating to last August — though he did blow a four-run lead in the ninth inning of a game this season.
Cabrera hit an opposite-field drive to left off Ian Kennedy (5-6) in the first, and Cespedes homered to center leading off the fourth.
ON HIS WAY OUT
Kansas City has requested unconditional release waivers on 2B Omar Infante, designated for assignment last week. If he goes unclaimed, the 34-year-old Infante would become a free agent Thursday and could sign with any team.
Royals: Three-time All-Star LF Alex Gordon (broken right wrist) could return to the lineup as early as this weekend if he keeps feeling good, Yost said. Gordon was 3 for 6 with a home run and a double in two rehab games with Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Mets: On a busy day at Citi Field, the Mets activated Travis d’Arnaud from the disabled list. The catcher had been sidelined since April 26 with a strained right rotator cuff. He batted eighth and went 0 for 3 with a long flyout, but passed his first test on defense by throwing out Alcides Escobar trying to steal second base in the first inning. To open a roster spot for d’Arnaud, catcher Kevin Plawecki was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. New York also put reliever Jim Henderson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Sunday, with right biceps tendinitis and recalled LHP Sean Gilmartin from its top farm club.
Syndergaard (7-2, 1.91 ERA) will start on six days’ rest Wednesday against LHP Danny Duffy (2-1, 3.17). Syndergaard has won five straight decisions. He also won 2-0 in Kansas City when the teams split two games to open the season. And of course, he earned New York’s lone World Series victory last October and rankled the Royals by firing his first pitch above Escobar’s head.