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Mets' offense returns to lowly self vs. Twins

6/19/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- Johan Santana dominated the New York Mets right
from the start.

Santana struck out his first three batters and pitched three-hit
ball for six innings, leading the Minnesota Twins over the New York
Mets 6-1 on Tuesday night.

"I think most of those guys are All-Stars,'' Santana said.
"But I don't have that on my mind. I just went out there to pitch.
You always see these guys on TV, and now you're able to face
them.''

Torii Hunter, Dustan Mohr and A.J. Pierzynski homered for the AL
Central-leading Twins, who won their third straight.

"Our guys are definitely getting better. We have a long way to
go, but this year we know what it takes to stay in first place,''
Hunter said. "This is not a surprise. We were in first place for
half the season last year, and people think we're a fluke. But we
can play.''

After taking two of three from the Yankees in an intense Subway
Series last weekend, the Mets went right back to their slumping
ways on offense.

Santana (2-1) was making just his third start of the season
after being recalled from Triple-A Edmonton on May 31. He allowed
one run and struck out seven in the longest outing of his career.
The 23-year-old left-hander shut down the Mets, who often seem to
struggle against young pitchers they've never faced before.

"What's not to like about him? He's got a great arm. You
couldn't ask for a better kid,'' Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire
said.

LaTroy Hawkins worked two perfect innings, and Travis Miller
finished the four-hitter.

Mohr, Pierzynski and Luis Rivas hit consecutive doubles off Jeff
D'Amico (4-6) with two outs in the second inning for a 2-0 lead.

Mohr led off the fourth with his fifth home run and second in
two games. Hunter opened the sixth with a 409-foot shot to
left-center, his 16th this year.

"I couldn't really explain it,'' D'Amico said. "I tip my hat
to those guys. Maybe they had a better report on me than I had on
them. I thought I made some quality pitches. I just walked off the
mound after six scratching my head and look up and there's four
runs on the board.''

Pierzynski, playing in front of family and friends from
Bridgehampton, N.Y., connected off Satoru Komiyama in the ninth
inning.

Rivas doubled twice, Cristian Guzman had three of Minnesota's 12
hits and Jacque Jones added an RBI single in the ninth to make it
6-1. The Twins, who escaped elimination in the offseason, had an
easy time with the big-budget Mets.

"It was just one game,'' Hunter said. "Guys like that can have
one off game, then turn around the next day and pull out the
whooping sticks on you.''

Acquired from Milwaukee in the offseason, D'Amico has fallen
apart after a promising start. He dropped his fourth consecutive
start, allowing four runs and eight hits in six innings. Since
beating Florida 3-0 on May 26, the 6-foot-7 right-hander is 0-4
with an 8.10 ERA in his last four outings.

"They hadn't seen Jeff either and they had some pretty good
swings tonight,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He's just
got to get over the mental hump and get back in the saddle.''

The Mets didn't help themselves on the bases, either. Slumping
slugger Jeromy Burnitz singled with two outs in the fifth for New
York's first hit, but he was thrown out by Hunter trying to stretch
it into a double.

Hunter, a Gold Glove center fielder, also made a fine catch at
the fence on a drive by Mo Vaughn in the fifth.

"I thought it was gone, but then I looked back and saw I had a
little room to make the play,'' Hunter said.

Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two-out RBI single in the sixth, but he
was nailed attempting to advance to second on a pitch that bounced
in the dirt on a strong throw by Pierzynski.

"It wasn't one of our best games, no doubt about that,''
Valentine said.

Game notes
It was the first meeting ever between these teams. The Mets
dropped to 5-5 in interleague play this season. The Twins are 6-4.
... Minnesota had five doubles to increase their major
league-leading total to 161. The Twins have 56 doubles in their
last 19 games. ... Gardenhire was a utility infielder for the Mets
from 1981-85. ... The Mets played a video tribute to Twins RHP Rick
Reed before the game. Reed, traded to Minnesota last July for OF
Matt Lawton, was scheduled to start Wednesday but was scratched
after cutting his right thumb on a suitcase. ... Major league
disciplinarian Bob Watson said Mets LHP Shawn Estes will probably
be fined for throwing a pitch behind Yankees ace Roger Clemens on
Saturday. ... Calgary Flames RW Jarome Iginla, the NHL's leading
scorer this past season, was in attendance.