Royals fall few feet shy of big inning in lone big chance

Royals fall few feet shy of big inning in lone big chance

NEW YORK -- Three consecutive baserunners to begin the fifth inning Tuesday night had Royals manger Ned Yost thinking of a crooked number on the scoreboard.

Instead, the Royals could not capitalize against the Mets' bullpen, which was forced to pitch 8 2/3 innings after Bartolo Colon exited one batter into his start with a right thumb contusion, in Kansas City's 2-1 series-opening loss to New York at Citi Field.

The fifth began with a Paulo Orlando single, a Cheslor Cuthbert walk and a Brett Eibner RBI single -- all off reliever Hansel Robles -- that trimmed the Mets' lead to 2-1 with Royals starter Ian Kennedy coming to the plate.

Eibner's RBI single

Despite his starter having tossed only four innings, Yost made the move to have Kendrys Morales pinch-hit. And for a moment, it seemed like the move paid off.

Right-hander Erik Goeddel entered out of the Mets' bullpen, and on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Morales launched Goeddel's 92-mph fastball toward the right-field wall -- at 98 mph off the bat, according to Statcast™ -- but came up a few feet short of being a three-run home run.

"We had the opportunity to bunt [the runners] over, but I kind of felt like Ian wasn't exceptionally sharp ... so we thought we'd take a shot with Morales," Yost said. "It almost worked. Another couple of feet and we have a three-run homer, but [Curtis Granderson] backed right up against the wall, and it just didn't work out for us."

The inning ended up fizzling as Whit Merrifield, whose liner up the middle in the first put an end to Colon's day, struck out and Alcides Escobar grounded out to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

It proved to be one of the few opportunities that the Royals had Tuesday, as five Mets relievers combined to allow six hits and a walk over their 8 2/3 innings. Other than the fifth inning, Kansas City only got three other runners into scoring position.

"It felt like a Spring Training game, to be honest," Merrifield said. "But it happens and you just have to roll with it. ... When you've never seen a guy before, you'd like to go deeper into games and get to face him two or three times, but it is what it is. It happened and we have to do a better job."

Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.