The low-30s temperatures Friday night at Target Field made it a challenge even for the native Ohioan. But Niese nonetheless battled through five innings with his four-seam fastball, changeup and curveball and earned the victory in the Mets’ 16-5 rout of the Minnesota Twins.
New York Mets
Niese said he could never recall, even in high school, pitching in snow before.
“It was a tough night for everybody to pitch,” Terry Collins said. “Fortunately we got a big lead.”
Said catcher John Buck: “The balls felt like pool cues out there. They were slippery. Normally we go to Niese’s cutter. I mean, he couldn’t even get a grip on it. It was tough. So having those early runs definitely helped for the whole progression of the game to just stay a little more aggressive, because obviously holding that four-seamer and that changeup was an easier pitch for him to hold onto. That’s what it boiled down to tonight -- who could hold onto the ball better, because it was a cold one.”
How cold was it? Thirty-four degrees at the first pitch.
“Tonight’s the night you’re happy you’re a catcher, because we’ve got the helmet, you’ve got the extra gear on,” Buck said. “And I was still cold. As the game went on, you could feel the temperature decreasing. Every time I went on the field it seemed like it was a little colder and more brisk.”
Said Niese: “Some pitches would feel good. A pitch later, it would slip out of my fingers and the ball would hang there. It was tough, but fortunately our offense gave us a big lead to lead there to start off.”
Niese’s next outing comes Wednesday in Colorado, when the forecast is for a low in the upper teens in the evening.
“In Colorado? Oh no,” Niese said after learning of the forecast. “We’re used to it now. ... I’m looking forward to it.”