A lot has been made this past week about the feud between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard. It goes back to Game 3 of last year’s World Series, when Syndergaard threw a pitch up and inside to Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar to begin the game. The Mets would go on to win that game, but they ended up losing the series in five games. The two teams played each other to open up the 2016 season earlier in the week. Last month, Newsday reported that Kansas City was planing on getting revenge for the pitch in the opening series against the Mets. However, they did not retaliate in either of the two games. In the end, the one who ended up making a statement was Syndergaard.
The Mets and Royals played on Sunday night and Tuesday afternoon. On Sunday, the Royals raised their World Series Championship banner in a pregame ceremony while the Mets stood on the the third baseline. The team tagged Mets starter Matt Harvey for three earned runs, and they went on to beat New York 4-3. They continued the festivities on Tuesday with a pregame ring ceremony. When Syndergaard took the mound for the Mets in the bottom of the first inning, he was heavily booed by the Royals fans. As he warmed up, the song “American Woman” played throughout Kauffman Stadium. The boos of the fans quickly turned to cheers when Alcides Escobar led off the game with a triple. Unfortunately for the fans, that was the last time in the game that Syndergaard gave them something to cheer about.
Syndergaard did not let the leadoff triple get to him. He proceeded to strike out Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, and Eric Hosmer to escape the inning. Syndergaard looked very much in control for the remainder of the game. He was able to throw his fastball in the high-nineties consistently. He was also able to throw his nasty curveball effectively. What’s more, he also threw his slider in the mid-nineties. This is a pitch that he really didn’t throw that often when the Mets first called him up in May of last season. However, Syndergaard really worked on his slider in the offseason, and it showed on Tuesday. The Royals could not hit it.
The only other major rally Kansas City was able to muster against him came in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the Mets leading 2-0, the Royals had runners on second and third with two outs. Syndergaard walked Hosmer to load the bases. This sent Kendrys Morales to the plate with a chance to tie the game, or even take the lead. Syndergaard stayed calm however, and he got Morales to swing and miss at three straight sliders. That ended the inning, and the Royals’ chances of making a comeback in the game.
Mets manager Terry Collins decided to pull Syndergaard after that sixth inning, as his pitch count was at 92. Over the six innings of work, he allowed only three hits and one walk, while collecting nine strikeouts. The Royals do not strikeout very often, but Tuesday was an exception. The Mets bullpen held up, and they won the game 2-0 to earn a split in the series.
The Mets and Royals will see each other again for a two-game series at Citi Field in June. Syndergaard is one of the few Mets pitchers that has actually had success against the Royals, in the World Series or this season. When June comes around, he certainly won’t mind facing the Royals again.