KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Mets stood on their foul line Sunday night, facing the mammoth crown-sized scoreboard that looms over Kauffman Stadium, forced to relive the horrors of the World Series.
The highlights showed the Royals jumping for joy last fall, with the Mets portrayed in various states of disarray. Then one by one, the Royals took their bows in pregame introductions.
All the while, the Mets fidgeted, and chatted, and swayed back and forth. They adjusted their caps and belts, endlessly. For all the talk of turning the page on 2015, the Mets couldn’t escape it. That time warp extended to the playing field.
The Royals prevailed again, 4-3, rebuffing a late charge by the Mets.
Trailing 4-0 in the eighth, the Mets sliced the deficit to one with nothing more than two soft hits, two walks and a groundout. But just as he did during the World Series, Royals closer Wade Davis slammed the door in the ninth.
In his three appearances last fall, Davis did not allow a run, a stinginess that carried over to Opening Night. Despite allowing a leadoff walk and a one-out single to Curtis Granderson that put the tying run on third base, Davis snuffed out the rally.
David Wright struck out looking at a fastball over the inner edge. Yoenis Cespedes waved at a 94-mph fastball. The Mets fell to 35-20 on Opening Day.
Michael Conforto walked twice and went 2-for-2, including a soft single during the eighth-inning rally off Joakim Soria. Lucas Duda had a two-run single that inning, and Neil Walker grounded out to knock in another run.
But the uprising came too late for the Mets, who trailed 4-0 because the first seven innings proved to be little more than a re-enactment of the Fall Classic.
Matt Harvey stalked off the mound in the sixth, his head down, his glove in his throwing hand, his team trailing 3-0.
The Royals were rewarded for putting the ball in play, straining a Mets defense that, though improved from a year ago, is far from a strength.
Harvey had already endured a turbulent week. He was diagnosed with a bladder infection, was mocked mercilessly in public for the condition, then rebelled by boycotting the press.
But that drama only obscured a more pressing concern. After allowing 15 runs in his final 8 1⁄3 innings of spring training, Harvey got chased by the Royals. He allowed four runs (three earned) and eight hits in 5 2⁄3 innings. Terry Collins lifted him after 83 pitches, though Harvey didn’t deserve all of the blame.
The Royals took a 1-0 lead in the first when Cespedes dropped Mike Moustakas’ routine fly ball, channeling memories of the infamous gaffe that began last year’s World Series.
Then came a passed ball by Travis d’Arnaud, the result of an apparent cross-up, that moved Moustakas to second. Lorenzo Cain worked a walk. Eric Hosmer hit an RBI single to left, a potential double-play ball had it not come against the Mets’ shift.
Kendrys Morales’ sacrifice fly made it 2-0 in the fourth. In the sixth, the Royals chased Harvey. Alex Gordon’s sinking liner to center just escaped the reach of Juan Lagares, and Cain scored. Bartolo Colon allowed Omar Infante’s RBI single to make it 4-0. The run was charged to Harvey, who struck out just two.
The Royals showed touches of hospitality — most of it before the game. They displayed a short highlight reel of the Mets’ run to the NL pennant. The fans took it easy on the vanquished — offering mostly tepid boos.
But there was no mistaking that this was the Royals’ party, and by coincidence, the Mets were resigned to their fate as the awkward guests. The Royals wore special gold-trimmed uniforms, with the color of championships featured prominently on their jersey script and also on the KC on their caps. Not long before first pitch, they raised their banner, a reminder of just how close the Mets had come to doing the same.
The Mets will have to stomach another round Tuesday, when the Royals will distribute their championship rings during a pregame ceremony. Collins intends to take it in stride.
“It doesn’t bother me, they won,” Collins said. “They’re going to have them and we’ve just got to suck it up and get ready to play. Don’t get caught up too much in anything more. Look, when the bell rings, let’s get after it. I don’t care what the pregame stuff’s about.”