Hochevar stays cool, extinguishes Mets' fire

Royals reliever needs four pitches to snuff eighth-inning rally

Hochevar stays cool, extinguishes Mets' fire

KANSAS CITY -- Nothing like opening the season by walking into a tense, game-on-the-line situation. But that's how Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar opened his 2016 season, facing the Mets' Asdrubal Cabrera with two outs and the tying run in scoring position in the eighth inning.

Hochevar needed only four pitches and calmly struck out Cabrera. End of threat. And the Royals eventually took a 4-3 victory Sunday night.

"That's something you can't really replicate in Spring Training," Hochevar said. "So nothing prepares you for it this early. You just go in and try to make good pitches. Fortunately, I did."

Added Royals manager Ned Yost, "Just a great job by Hoch. He came in throwing strikes."

The Royals had been cruising with a 4-0 lead going into the eighth as Joakim Soria entered. Soria didn't allow an earned run this spring.

But Soria gave up a ground-ball single up the middle, and one out and two walks later, the bases were loaded.

Then Mets first baseman Lucas Duda got jammed and broke his bat, but flared a two-run single to left. A weak grounder by Neil Walker was hit too slowly to turn two, a run scored, and the Mets were suddenly within one. Yet another broken-bat blooper pushed the tying run into scoring position.

And that was it for Soria.

"I don't think I was pitching bad," Soria said. "I broke some bats and some balls fell in.

"But the big thing is the walks. That's not something I really do. But fortunately for us, we still held on to win. That's the main thing. And it's a long season. I'll be all right."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.