KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Noah Syndergaard threw six overpowering innings, giving up just three hits while striking out nine, and the Mets held on for a 2-0 win over the Royals on Tuesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
The Mets earned a split in the two-game set. Neil Walker's first hit as a Met turned out to be the game-winner, a two-run homer in the fourth.
"It makes you feel better, no question," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We came in today, we got a big hit, we got another great-pitched game, and we're going to go home tonight with a great feeling. We all talked before the game about having a happy flight. We'll have one tonight."
Syndergaard retired 12 straight and 15 of 16 during one stretch. He left after throwing 92 pitches, 60 for strikes.
"He brought his 'A' game today," Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. "Man."
Right-hander Chris Young started for the Royals and gave up two runs on three hits over five innings. He struck out four.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Thor drops the hammer: The Royals' only extended rally against Syndergaard unfolded in the sixth inning, when they loaded the bases with two outs. Syndergaard promptly struck out Kendrys Morales on three pitches, which was hardly unique to that inning. On the few occasions when Syndergaard did face trouble, he leaned on the strikeout, whiffing three straight batters after a leadoff triple in the first inning, and two in a row following a leadoff double in the fifth.
"He threw Kendrys 95-, 93-, 93-mph sliders," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "There's not a man on this Earth who could hit those. I even asked George [Brett], 'Do you think you could even foul one of those off?' He said, 'No way.'" More >
Good start, bad result: The Royals appeared ready to get to Syndergaard when Alcides Escobar tripled to right-center in the first. The Mets played the infield back that early in the game, conceding the run, but the Royals couldn't put the ball in play as Mike Moustakas, Cain and Eric Hosmer all struck out. Neither Moustakas nor Cain attempted to put down a bunt.
"You just try to put the ball in play," Yost said. "But his stuff was so good, we couldn't put it in play."
Walker trots: Walker's first hit with his new team was a big one -- he curled it around the right-field foul pole with one out in the fourth. That plated Yoenis Cespedes, who had walked to open the inning.
"These first two games were a good test," Walker said. "It was a great environment. It was a lot of energy, and I think we handled ourselves pretty well as a team."
"To me, the focus is to go out and give the team a chance to win. Certainly, it's a great day for the organization and the fans and the players and coaches, but ultimately, I have a responsibility to my team. I didn't want any distractions." -- Young, on why he declined an invite to be the first to get his ring in Tuesday's pregame ceremony, opting instead to continue his workout routine
"This is family TV. I probably shouldn't open up too much." -- Collins, on what it was like witnessing the Royals commemorate their 2015 World Series championship with a pair of pregame ceremonies
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Syndergaard became the eighth pitcher since the start of the 2015 season to strike out nine-plus Royals in a game. The Royals were the hardest team in baseball to strike out last season by a wide margin, averaging just 6.0 whiffs per game.
Mets: Two off-days await the Mets in New York, where they can sleep in their own beds for the first time since February. They'll return to work on Friday at 1:10 p.m. ET for the opener of three games against the Phillies, with Jacob deGrom -- assuming the birth of his first child does not interfere -- starting opposite Jerad Eickhoff.
Royals: After two off-days, the Royals will open a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium against the American League Central-rival Twins on Friday at 7:15 p.m. CT, with right-hander Yordano Ventura making his first start of the season against Twins left-hander Tommy Milone.
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