Edinson Volquez threw six scoreless innings, and the Kansas City Royals held off a late rally by the New York Mets in a World Series rematch to win 4-3 at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday.

Four different Royals knocked in runs as the team defended its championship in style on Opening Day. However, the victory came with some drama, as closer Wade Davis put runners on first and third before striking out David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes to end the game.

Kansas City celebrated its first win of the season on Twitter:

When MLB released the 2016 schedule in September, no one could have imagined the coincidence that would occur Sunday, when the two teams that played in the previous year’s World Series matched up on Opening Day for the first time.

Unfortunately for the Mets, they had to watch the Royals raise their first World Series banner since 1985 after falling 4-1 in last year’s Fall Classic.

The pregame scene was surreal for a team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs from 1986 through 2013.

Damon Amendolara of CBS Sports Radio couldn’t believe what he was seeing: 

As great as the festivities were for the Royals, Sunday marked the beginning of a new season. Once the umpire called Volquez’s first pitch to Curtis Granderson a strike, the Royals officially had begun their quest to repeat as World Series champions.

They got off to a fast start, as first baseman Eric Hosmer singled home Mike Moustakas in the bottom of the first inning to give Kansas City a 1-0 lead. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney shared his thoughts on the first run, which followed a Cespedes error:

Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News took a shot at Cespedes, who failed to make a play in Game 1 of the World Series, leading to an Alcides Escobar inside-the-park home run:

Although it was a tough first inning for Mets starter Matt Harvey, he didn’t allow a hit after Hosmer’s RBI single until the fourth inning, when center fielder Lorenzo Cain hit a leadoff single. The Royals eventually pushed across a run on a Kendrys Morales sacrifice fly to seize a 2-0 lead.

Kansas City led 3-0 in the sixth after a two-out RBI single by left fielder Alex Gordon. When catcher Salvador Perez followed with a single, the Mets pulled Harvey from the game.

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star fired off a tweet after the Mets pulled Harvey, seemingly referencing a bladder infection earlier in the week that nearly caused Harvey to miss his start:

Second baseman Omar Infante added an RBI single off Bartolo Colon for the team’s final run, which was charged to Harvey.

Harvey, who failed to defeat the Royals for the second straight time, was decent at best—5.2 innings, eight hits, four runs, three earned—but he wasn’t nearly good enough opposite Volquez, per the Royals:

The Royals bullpen does not usually blow leads, but Joakim Soria came on to start the eighth and didn’t leave until he allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in just two-thirds of an inning.

Henry Lake of Kansas City’s 610 Sports Radio tweeted what every Royals fan must have been thinking after the 4-0 lead was suddenly 4-3:

Setup man Luke Hochevar, who came in with runners on second and third, struck out Asdrubal Cabrera to restore order.

The Royals then turned to Davis, who has allowed 15 earned runs in 139.1 innings over the past two seasons, to end the game.

Six of the nine Royals regulars finished with at least one hit, while Hosmer led the way with a 3-for-4 performance. Michael Conforto was 2-for-2 for the Mets, and Lucas Duda had a game-high two RBI.

It’s a long season, but the Royals proved to be formidable defending champions with an all-around strong performance Sunday, aside from the eighth inning. They didn’t hit a home run but constantly put the ball in play, striking out only three times and batting .300.

The teams will finish off their two-game series Tuesday night in Kansas City, with Chris Young of the Royals taking the mound against Noah Syndergaard of the Mets.


Postgame Reaction

Volquez, who was the starting pitcher in Games 1 and 5 of last year’s World Series, continued his solid pitching on the big stage.

One would think the 32-year-old would relish the chance to pitch on Opening Day, but that wasn’t the case, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).

“I like to enjoy the show,” Volquez said. “Enjoy the time. … I did the best I could.”

His best was certainly good, as was the rest of his team.

“They’re scrappy,” Wright said, per the AP. “We knew that they put the ball in play, they find holes, put together terrific at-bats. They get that lead early and you know the bullpen is coming in. That’s their M.O.—good starting pitching, terrific bullpen and a pesky offense. That’s exactly what they did tonight.”

The Royals were all business during the game, but they like to have fun afterward. Perez nailed Hosmer with his signature “Salvy Splash” while the latter was taking part in an interview on the field, via the Royals:

While the Kansas City fans may have thought it was great to draw a rematch with the Mets, Royals manager Ned Yost wasn’t a big fan, per the AP.

“It was just strange, the pregame ceremony. I think I would have enjoyed it more if we played another team,” Yost said. “For them to relive that, it’s a little awkward.”

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