Niese, 3 HRs lift Mets over Twins
As the Mets prepared to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico, after their 6-0 win over the Twins, young fans ran the bases at Citi Field to the song "Walking on Sunshine."
In the clubhouse, the Mets' eight rookies donned black and red cutoff and cut-up U.S. Women's Soccer jerseys - complete with shorts, high socks, shin guards, sneakers and mini soccer balls - in the team's annual rookie ritual.
The Mets are feeling good.
In a span of 10 batters in the fourth and fifth innings Sunday, they scored six runs and had eight hits. They hit three home runs, one triple, one double and three singles.
And won one ballgame.
Jeff Francoeur, David Wright and Ike Davis homered in that 10-batter span and Jonathon Niese allowed four hits in six innings as the Mets took the rubber match against the American League Central-leading Twins.
The Mets moved to within a half-game of Atlanta in the National League East and will resume intraleague play Monday night against the Florida Marlins. They ended interleague play 13-5.
"It's fun to come out here and play as well as we're playing," Wright said. "It should give us a lot of confidence going forward."
The game was scoreless into the fourth as Niese battled Scott Baker. Then Francoeur's two-out, two-run home run to left woke up the Mets' offense, which had been shut out by Carl Pavano on Saturday. It was Francoeur's eighth home run of the season.
The Mets sent 10 men to the plate in a four-run fifth to take a 6-0 advantage. Jesus Feliciano (3-for-5) doubled and scored on Wright's 14th home run, a line shot to left, to make it 4-0. Davis followed with a prodigious blast on to the Shea Bridge in right-centerfield, the rookie's ninth of the season.
Jason Bay then tripled to right-center before Twins manager Ron Gardenhire removed Baker. Rod Barajas followed with an RBI single off Alex Burnett to make it 6-0 and close the book on Baker (6-7, 4.97 ERA), who allowed 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings.
It was an impressive display of firepower in a short span. With the exception of Jose Reyes (0-for-5), every Mets position player was involved.
"Reyes didn't get on base," manager Jerry Manuel said. "To score six runs without Jose Reyes being the centerpiece of that, that's a good sign for our offense. We're doing some good things with the offense."
And the pitching.
Niese (5-2, 3.84) continued his (mostly) dominant string of outings since he returned from the disabled list June 5. He allowed four singles and three walks in six innings plus one batter, striking out five. Since coming back from a hamstring injury, Niese is 4-0, 2.67, including an unusual no-decision Tuesday.
In that game, Niese couldn't get the final out of the fifth inning against the Tigers after the Mets gave him a 10-0 lead after three innings that wound up being cut to 11-6. Manuel had decided to bring him back after a 58-minute rain delay; Niese, by his own admission, had nothing left after a 92-minute break between throwing pitches.
But any concern that Manuel's move could have had a negative effect on Niese's next outing were dispelled early yesterday. He set down 10 Twins in a row from the first through the fourth innings.
As one of the Mets' rookies, Niese exited the clubhouse in the soccer outfit with an American flag draped over his shoulders.
He was joined in the soccer uniform by Davis, Feliciano, Chris Carter, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, Hisanori Takahashi and Ryota Igarashi - and the Japanese pitchers' translators.