Mets top Twins in makeup game

Published 6:19 am Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — Headed for a fifth straight losing season, the New York Mets have the kind of rotation in place with the potential to soon end that skid.

Matt Harvey is the leader of the group, but don’t forget Dillon Gee. And Travis d’Arnaud is up to guide these guys from behind the plate.

Gee pitched into the eighth inning for the Mets in a 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday afternoon in a makeup game from April 14, and d’Arnaud learned afterward he’s here for good.

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Gee (9-8) turned in yet another quality start, and the offense for the Mets was about as balanced as could be with RBI singles by Eric Young, Daniel Murphy, Andrew Brown, Wilmer Flores and Omar Quintanilla.

All five of them had two hits, as did Marlon Byrd, who hit his 20th home run. Juan Lagares made several standout catches in center field, including a sprint into the wall to track down Josh Willingham’s drive in the first.

“It helps to have the help that I’ve had. I’ve had great catchers calling great games, and Juan tracks down everything there in center field,” Gee said, adding: “It gives you confidence to keep attacking.”

With veteran catcher John Buck due back on Tuesday from paternity leave, the Mets sent catcher Anthony Recker to Triple-A Las Vegas after the game.

That meant d’Arnaud, the prized prospect acquired from Toronto in the offseason trade of Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, was staying despite being hitless in his first seven at-bats.

“What an amazing feeling, getting to stay with the club. This group of guys is just a great group of guys that truly love baseball,” d’Arnaud said.

He’s not going to be biding his time on the bench, either.

“The only way this guy is going to improve is to be here,” manager Terry Collins said.

Rookie Kyle Gibson (2-4) struggled again for the Twins, failing to finish the fourth. He recorded 11 outs and allowed 10 hits and was sent to Triple-A Rochester after the game with a 6.53 ERA.

Only once since his debut on June 29 has the right-hander gone six innings and given up three runs or fewer.

“He just wasn’t very consistent today. I know he’s frustrated,” catcher Joe Mauer said.

The Mets won the first two games of the series here by a total score of 20-7, but the finale at Target Field was postponed due to cold and rain.

Despite the four-plus months that elapsed, this was just as lopsided as before, thanks to Gee. The 27-year-old right-hander was scheduled to start this game originally, that wintry afternoon.

The heat and humidity have proven to be better working conditions.

Since May 30, Gee has a 2.27 ERA, the third-best in the league behind Jose Fernandez and Clayton Kershaw.

All nine of Gee’s victories have come since April 20, and no other Mets pitcher including the All-Star Harvey has more than five in that stretch. The Mets are 13-12 in Harvey’s starts. They’re 14-11 with Gee on the mound.

This was a feel-good way to wrap up an 11-game road trip for the Mets, who finished 5-6 but lost three of those on the last at-bat.

Gee walked just one and struck out nine, matching the second-highest total of his career.

Left-hander Scott Rice relieved him with two outs in the eighth inning to retire Justin Morneau with Mauer, who had two of the six hits against Gee, on second.

The only run Gee allowed was unearned when Murphy let a ground ball hit by Clete Thomas slide underneath his glove at second base in the seventh for an error.

Gee has given up one or fewer runs in 12 of his starts. He’s completed six innings or more in each of his past 10 turns.

Collins and d’Arnaud raved about the way Gee mixed all four pitches.

“This is what we’ve known him to be in the past. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you look up in the next six weeks, and he’s going to have 14 or 15 wins,” Collins said.

NOTES: Collins said reliever Carlos Torres will start on Friday, giving Harvey an extra day of rest. Jenrry Mejia’s elbow injury opened a spot. … The Mets host Atlanta on Tuesday, with RHP Zack Wheeler (5-2, 3.43 ERA) set to take the mound after a career-high 12 strikeouts at San Diego last Thursday. RHP Brandon Beachy (2-0, 4.50 ERA) will start for the Braves. … The Twins start a three-game series at division-leading Detroit on Tuesday. They’ll start RHP Mike Pelfrey (4-10, 5.26 ERA) opposite RHP Rick Porcello (9-6, 4.33 ERA) of the Tigers.