Mets-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

John Buck's start to 2013 has him in some elite company.

Matt Harvey is looking to continue his own dazzling start on the mound for the New York Mets.

Buck goes for another big performance at the plate, while Harvey tries to win for the third time in as many starts Saturday when the Mets face the struggling Minnesota Twins.

Buck was traded twice in the offseason, landing in New York (6-4) from Toronto in a seven-player deal in December. The Mets were hoping Buck could provide some leadership and stability behind the plate, and so far he's blown away those expectations.

He's batting .351 with six homers, becoming only the fourth player in 92 years to total 19 RBIs in the first 10 games. Baltimore's Chris Davis did it this year, while Lou Gehrig (1927) and Manny Ramirez (1999) also accomplished the feat.

"I'm benefiting from last year. I just tried too hard," Buck said of his .192 average and 12 homers with Miami in 2012. "Now, I'm just going up there and trying to hit the ball solid, and good things are happening."

That certainly was the case Friday, when Buck connected for a grand slam in a 16-5 win at Minnesota (4-6) in the opener of this three-game interleague series.

Another homer Saturday would make him the third Met to go deep seven times in the opening 11 games, joining Jeff Kent (1994) and Dave Kingman (1976).

"You're almost starting to take it for granted," manager Terry Collins said. "When you need a big hit, he's going to get it. And he's going to drive in runs when he gets his hit. It's just amazing, one night after the next."

So far, the same could be said of Harvey's performances on the mound. The right-hander (2-0, 0.64 ERA) has a chance to become the first Met to win his first three starts since Mike Pelfrey - now with the Twins - won four in a row in 2010.

Harvey turned in another dominant outing Monday, yielding one run and three hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings of a 7-2 win at Philadelphia. He's among the NL leaders with 19 strikeouts in 14 innings.

"He has that ability, when he misses out over the plate, to get good hitters to miss," Buck told the team's official website.

David Wright went 3 for 5 with a double, triple and four RBIs Friday. He's batting .464 with 10 RBIs in seven career meetings with Minnesota.

The Twins, losers of four in a row, are scheduled to activate Scott Diamond off the disabled list and give him the ball for the first time since undergoing offseason elbow surgery. The left-hander allowed four runs and six hits in five innings of a rehabilitation start with Class-A Fort Myers on Sunday.

Diamond is looking to build on his impressive 2012 rookie season, when he went 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA, the lowest of any Minnesota starter. However, he went 0-4 with a 4.95 ERA over his final six home starts after posting a 6-1 record and 2.28 ERA in his first eight.

"I'm going to try to repeat last year," Diamond told the team's official website. "Whether or not the numbers look the same, there are a lot of positives and things I learned from last year. Some mental triggers I hope I can repeat this year."

Joe Mauer had two hits Friday and is batting .468 over his last 18 interleague games.

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