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.
"Those are the kind of games that I really believe that you should grow from," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "To hang on in that situation, that was a great outing by every guy out of the `pen."
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.
"That's a tremendous job they did tonight, especially for Robles. I know he was definitely caught off guard with having to run out there, kind of at the spur of the moment," Colon said through a translator. "But it's great to see them have those kind of opportunities and shine like that."
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.
Still, manager Ned Yost insisted the trip was no sunny stroll down memory lane.
"Just another series," he said before the game. "I don't know if it's weird or not. I mean, it was a great accomplishment, but it's kind of in the rearview mirror in the middle of the season now."
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.
"First thought that popped into my head was, God please don't let this be a broken thumb," Colon said, adding he wasn't sure yet if he'll need to go on the disabled list.
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.
"That could spell disaster, but he didn't allow that to happen," Yost said.
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.
"I was a little tired, but not too exhausted," Robles said through a translator.
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.
"You definitely want to make sure we secure that one because we earned it," Blevins said. "That would have been a heartbreaker to lose."
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.
Royals: Three-time All-Star LF Alex Gordon (broken right wrist) could return to the lineup this weekend, Yost said. Gordon was 3 for 6 with a home run and a double in two rehab games with Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Mets: Just off the disabled list, catcher Travis d'Arnaud went 0 for 3 with a long flyout. But he passed his first test on defense by throwing out Alcides Escobar trying to steal second base in the first inning. A strained right rotator cuff had sidelined d'Arnaud since April 26. ... New York put reliever Jim Henderson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Sunday, with right biceps tendinitis.
Syndergaard (7-2, 1.91 ERA), winner of five straight decisions, will start on six days' rest Wednesday against LHP Danny Duffy (2-1, 3.17). Syndergaard won 2-0 at Kansas City in April. Of course, he also earned New York's lone World Series victory last fall and rankled the Royals by firing his first pitch above Escobar's head.
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