Edinson Volquez would rather sit on the bench than stand on the mound on opening day, especially when it happens to be the first game following a World Series triumph.
"I like to enjoy the show," Volquez explained with a grin. "Enjoy the time."
He had every reason to enjoy Sunday night's festivities anyway.
Given no choice but to start the game by Royals manager Ned Yost, the veteran right-hander responded with six scoreless innings. His bullpen held on through three more shaky frames and Kansas City beat the New York Mets 4-3 in the first opening-day rematch of a World Series.
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) April 4, 2016
"I did the best I could," said Volquez, who also started the decisive Game 5 at Citi Field last November.
The Mets rallied for three runs off Joakim Soria in the eighth, then put runners on the corners with one out against Wade Davis in the ninth. But the All-Star closer struck out David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, preserving a nail-biting victory and sending 40,030 fans home in another celebratory mood.
"They're scrappy," Wright said. "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."
Volquez (1-0) allowed two hits and three walks in outdueling Matt Harvey, who also opposed him in Game 5 of the World Series. Harvey (0-1) allowed four runs — three earned — on eight hits and two walks in 5 2-3 innings.
There wound up being little good about opening night for the NL East champs, still in search of their first championship in three decades. They spent nearly an hour before the first pitch reliving last year's World Series defeat through a steady stream of highlights on the crown-shaped big screen, then had to watch the raising of the championship banner over the Royals Hall of Fame in left field at Kauffman Stadium.
"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."
Things didn't get a whole lot better for the Mets once the game began.
Cespedes, the Gold Glove outfielder whose shoddy fielding hurt the Mets in the Series, dropped an easy fly ball in the first inning that ultimately led to the Royals' opening run.
Kansas City then strung together a couple of singles before Kendrys Morales popped a sacrifice fly to center in the fourth, and Alex Gordon and Omar Infante added two-out RBI singles in the sixth.
Volquez and the Kansas City defense had things well in hand by that point.
The right-hander escaped a jam by getting Travis d'Arnaud to ground out in the second inning, then watched first baseman Eric Hosmer make a nice diving stop to escape a sticky spot in the third. All-Star catcher Salvador Perez threw out Michael Conforto trying to steal second base to end the fourth.
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) April 4, 2016
The biggest misstep Volquez made may have been fashion-related — he wore his spring training hat with a gold crown over the interlocking "KC" to start the game. He swapped it out for the proper one by the second inning.
"Nobody said anything!" he said, grinning again. "Not even in the bullpen."
Mets: Harvey got the start despite having a blood clot in his bladder that led to a minor procedure last week. "When the word 'blood clot' came up, that's severe stuff," manager Terry Collins said. "We started to look at alternative plans and what we might do down the road. Fortunately, it came out he's going to be OK."
Royals: RF Jarrod Dyson was milling around the clubhouse before the game. He's out a few more weeks with an oblique injury that he sustained in the first game of spring training.
During the pregame festivities, DH Morales picked up his Silver Slugger Award, and 1B Hosmer, C Perez and SS Alcides Escobar got their Gold Gloves. The remaining members of last season's team are scheduled to get their championship rings before Tuesday's game.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard, whose inside pitch to Escobar in Game 3 was a flashpoint of the World Series, takes the mound Tuesday. Syndergaard allowed three runs in six innings in a 9-3 victory that night.
Royals: RHP Chris Young started Game 4 of the World Series against New York. He also earned the win in Game 1 when he tossed three scoreless innings in a 5-4, 14-inning victory.