Apparently nothing much has changed in five months.
The Kansas City Royals still look like the Royals, that cohesive unit that may not have the highest-paid players, the hulking sluggers or Cy Young pitchers but certainly have the New York Mets’ number.
From all indications from their season-opening 4-3 win over the Mets in the World Series rematch on Sunday before a national television audience, the Royals still have their greatest attribute — their heart.
The Royals won in typical Royals fashion. Starter Edinson Volquez threw the ball all over the lot, but time and again extricated himself from jams to unfurl six shutout innings. Kelvin Herrera did his usual seventh-inning bridgework, but Joakim Soria flubbed in his Royals return, giving up three runs before Luke Hochevar cleaned up his mess. In the ninth, Wade Davis didn’t exactly conjure up memories of the unhittable Davis of last year, but stayed calm to weather a potential disaster to nail down the victory.
What a blow it would have been to lose this game, as the Royals were following their blueprint to a T — getting a lead and then turning it over to the bullpen. With all the hype surrounding the team, blowing a four-run lead in the final two innings could have been a mental shock that could have taken days to flush out of their minds.
The Royals cobbled together four runs in typical KC fashion, as they didn’t exactly blast the ball around Kauffman Stadium — it was more like pinging it. Kansas City had nine hits — all singletons – with Eric Hosmer coming up with three and Omar Infante adding two. It’s important for Infante to get off to a good start, because he’s fighting for his second base job after an off year in 2015 and the Royals are itching to get Christian Colon in the lineup to see what he can do on a regular basis. For now, the Royals are going with the more veteran Infante, who had a lot of big hits during the 2014 near-championship miss.
After an off day today, the Royals and Mets hook up again on Tuesday afternoon and it’s going to be more pomp and circumstance. This time it will be the ring ceremony and you can imagine there will be another full house at The K, which was swelled beyond capacity on Sunday with 40,000-plus. The Mets must feel like they’re having their faces rubbed in it, but the schedule was set up long before the teams met in the World Series.
Then in an odd quirk of the schedule, the Royals are off both Wednesday and Thursday. I’m sure the Royals don’t like having two straight off days, as at this point they’re ready to get into a routine and not be interrupted. Into town for the weekend is Minnesota, a team many compare to the Royals of a few years ago with a lot of young players that are on the verge of breaking through. Kansas City definitely needs to start this season-opening homestand at least 4-1 or 3-2 as they want to establish The K as a place nobody wants to play.