Mets freeze Twins
MINNEAPOLIS — John Buck kept up his powerful start with a grand slam, his fourth home run in the last four games, and the New York Mets beat the Minnesota Twins 16-5 as snowflakes fell at Target Field on Friday night.
Buck became only the fourth major league player in at least 92 years to reach 19 RBIs in the first 10 games of a season, according to STATS research dating to 1921. Chris Davis did it for Baltimore this year, Manny Ramirez for Cleveland in 1999 and Lou Gehrig for the Yankees in 1927 were the others.
In his first two weeks with the Mets after being traded twice during the offseason, Buck already has six homers. His career high is 20.
Jonathon Niese (2-0) lasted only five innings in frigid weather, ending his streak of 22 consecutive starts of six or more that dated to last June. That was the longest current run in the majors. He threw 101 pitches, giving up five hits, five runs (four earned) and four walks while striking out one.
David Wright drove in four runs and missed the cycle by a home run, Daniel Murphy had four hits and four RBIs and the Mets didn’t let the wintry conditions hurt their offense in any way. They overwhelmed Twins starter Vance Worley (0-2), who got three outs and gave up nine runs.
The Mets batted around in each of the first two innings, scoring five times in each frame. The first five batters reached base in both innings. After Worley walked Ike Davis to leave the bases loaded in the second inning, the short-sleeved right-hander was removed by manager Ron Gardenhire.
Pedro Hernandez relieved, and Buck drove a full-count pitch into the second deck of seats above left-center field to stretch the lead to 10-2.
The Mets have 14 home runs, at least one in each game. Marlon Byrd, who had two RBIs, missed another by a few inches in the second, settling for a triple.
Considered a throw-in for the Mets when they sent NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto last December, and also for the Blue Jays when they acquired four other stars in the fire-sale deal with Florida a month earlier, Buck is filling the catcher position until top prospect Travis d’Arnaud is ready to take over. But the way the 32-year-old has been hitting so far, there should be no rush.
Buck’s previous career high for RBIs in a month was 17 in August 2004 with Kansas City. He has 17 games left in April to obliterate that total.
After hours of work by the grounds crew to prepare the field following three days of on-and-off snow, the ballpark was ready to use by the afternoon. The temperature at first pitch was 34 degrees, one lower than opening day here. But that was a sunny afternoon. Flakes continued to fall throughout the night after tapering off from the snow-globe-like flurries that brightened up batting practice.
Enticed by free coffee and hot cocoa, Twins fans came layered in ski gear, hunting clothes and whatever else to keep warm. The announced attendance was 23,735, but that’s tickets sold and not the actual number of people inside. Propane heaters whirred in the dugout, and most players had almost every inch of skin covered.
Except Worley, who prefers to work without sleeves. He allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out one. Seven of the runs he gave up were earned. He has lost a career-worst five straight decisions spanning seven starts since last Aug. 1 for Philadelphia.
Notes: Hernandez left in the sixth with a strained left calf muscle. He was already a candidate to be sent back to Triple-A Rochester, with LHP Scott Diamond set to come off the DL and start on Saturday. ... Diamond, who was held back at spring training to continue rehabilitation on his surgically repaired throwing elbow, will make his 2013 debut against RHP Matt Harvey (2-0, 0.64 ERA) of the Mets. The weather is supposed to be dry but still cold. Diamond, a native of Ontario, Canada, said with a smile the air felt “refreshing” during early workouts before the game. ... The Twins have given up 16 first-inning runs in 10 games, the most in the majors. They’ve scored four. ... Mets reliever LaTroy Hawkins faced his old club yet again. After making his debut for the Twins in 1995, the 40-year-old has played for nine teams since leaving after the 2003 season.