NEW YORK (AP) — Bartolo Colon’s early injury put the Mets in a major bind, but they won a battle of bullpens against the best relief corps in baseball and edged the Kansas City Royals 2-1 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.
The 43-year-old Colon was hit on his pitching hand by a line drive and left after one batter with a bruised right thumb. Yet a gritty Hansel Robles (1-3) and four other relievers bailed out the Mets by combining for 8 2/3 stellar innings in the opener of a two-game set.
The teams split a two-game series in Kansas City to open the season, but 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.
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.
After only four pitches, however, the NL champions were scrambling.
Royals leadoff man Whit Merrifield hit a line drive that barely glanced off Colon’s glove and struck him hard on his right thumb. X-rays were negative, the Mets said.
The ball deflected to second baseman Neil Walker, who threw to first for an out. Colon shook his pitching hand in obvious pain and bent over at the waist as Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez rushed out of the dugout.
Following a brief meeting near the mound, Colon walked off the field. Robles was given all the time he needed to warm up.
Indeed, Robles provided yeoman’s work. After throwing 41 pitches Sunday, he threw 65 over 3 2/3 effective innings and struck out six. His previous career highs were 52 pitches and three innings, in different games.
The right-hander finally faded in the fifth and gave up an RBI single to Brett Eibner with nobody out before Erik Goeddel pitched out of trouble. Pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales flied out to the right-field fence with two on, and Goeddel tossed two scoreless innings.
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, 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.