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Mets vs. Royals Recap: Hansel Robles and the very good bullpen

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The bullpen stymied the Royal offense.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets were able to pull out a 2-1 victory against the defending World Series champs on Tuesday when an unlikely savior stepped out of the bullpen.

It all started when Terry Collins tapped Bartolo Colon for the start instead of Noah Syndergaard, who threw a career high in pitches in his last start. Collins wanted to give his young righty an extra day of rest, and the move sets up the Mets’ rotation nicely for the team’s upcoming series against the Cubs and Nationals.

Four pitches into the game, Whit Merrifield hit a line drive up the middle that Colon attempted to field. Colon missed the ball with his glove and the ball struck him in the right hand. Neil Walker was able to come in and make the play for the out, but Colon promptly came out of the game. X-rays later came back negative but the Mets were now facing a game where the bullpen had to get 26 outs.

The first pitcher to get the call was Hansel Robles. He had been mired in a deep slump and now he had to face a pesky Royals lineup that doesn’t strike out often. The odds were not in his favor when Alcides Escobar stepped to the plate and singled to right. Eric Hosmer was up next, and the Mets were able to complete a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play on a strong throw by a fresh-off-the-DL Travis d’Arnaud to get them through the inning.

Robles came out for his second inning of work in the second and gave up a leadoff single to Lorenzo Cain. Cain was able to move up to third as the inning progressed but went no further when Robles struck out Cheslor Cuthbert to end the inning.

In the third, Robles pitched his strongest inning of the night. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning and struck out two. In the fourth he struck out both Hosmer and Cain and held the Royals off the board despite a leadoff double by Escobar.

The fifth proved to be the limit for Robles who had already thrown a career high in pitches. He allowed a leadoff single to Paulo Orlando and then he walked Cuthbert. Brett Eibner hit a weak grounder that found a hole and put the Royals on the board. That was it for Robles who went 3.2 innings and struck out six.

Erik Goeddel was up next to put out the next fire. Ned Yost went all in and pinch hit Kendrys Morales who smashed a ball that Curtis Granderson camped under right in front of the wall. When everyone was able to breathe again, Goeddel proceeded to strike out Merrifield to keep the tying run from scoring from third, and induced a fielder’s choice from Escobar to end the inning.

Those were big outs since the Mets’ offense was struggling to score runs yet again. They were hitting the ball hard off starter Ian Kennedy, but the speedy Royal outfield was able to track most of them down. The most encouraging sign was d’Arnaud hitting the ball hard to right, just missing a home run.

The two balls the Royal outfield could not track down were hit by Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes. Cabrera got the Mets on the board with a home run to left in the first and Cespedes extended the lead in the fourth with a home run to center.

Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed, and Jeurys Familia were given the task to protect a one run lead in the late innings where Met fans know the Royals do the most damage. On this night though it was no problem for that trio. Between the three of them they only allowed one baserunner, a single by Cuthbert with two outs in the ninth.

It was a patchwork win but a win nonetheless, tinged with a little bit of bitter with the loss of Colon, and a little bit of sweet considering the opponent.

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Box Scores

Win Probability Added

Big winners: Erik Goeddel +28.2%, Jeurys Familia +14.2%, Addison Reed +10.9%, Yoenis Cespedes +10.3%
Big losers: None
Teh aw3s0mest play: Yoenis Cespedes home run in fourth
Teh sux0rest play: Brett Eibner single in fifth
Total pitcher WPA: +56.3%
Total batter WPA: -6.3%
GWRBI!: Yoenis Cespedes