MINNEAPOLIS -- Mother nature finally won one in Minneapolis.
After playing the last two games in biting cold, brisk winds and fluttering slowflakes, the Minnesota Twins and New York Mets had their Sunday game called off well before the scheduled first pitch. Not because of the rain that was expected, but because of the snow.
It wasn't exactly the 1940 Armistice Day blizzard that wreaked havoc in these parts but more than enough snowfall to mercifully put the balls and bats away.
New York natives who wandered down to Target Field just in case were left uncharacteristically open-mouthed at what they saw.
"I thought it always snowed up here, but this is April 14th," said one man, talking in an accent more accustomed to Flatbush than Lake Wobegon while pointing his camera phone in the direction of the accumulating snow that made the ballpark's outfield nearly as white as the tarp covering the infield.
The Mets will have to come back to Minnesota on Aug. 19 to make up the game in the already-crammed and crafted schedule. The weather should be better then.
Even in Minnesota, snowstorms of any magnitude are rare for this time of year. But it gave fans in the Twin Cities a little bundling-up practice when the Vikings start playing outdoor games in 2014 while their new stadium gets built.
The gift day off presents an opportunity for Twins rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks to, well, figure out a way to stay in the majors. Given the starting job after a slam-bang Grapefruit League performance, Hicks on Saturday had more strikeouts (3) than hits in his first two weeks in the bigs (2). That he has three RBI, which is among the rookie leaders in the American League, hasn't helped his cause. He's already had way too many "what -am-I-doing-here" at-bats, and it's only mid-April (despite the snowglobe that is downtown Minneapolis).
"We're still working our way through it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Saturday from his office while down the hall in the clubhouse Hicks flung his damp uniform several feet into a laundry tub.
The fact that he hit the tub in one try failed to bring even a smile to his face.
While the Twins try to stop their five-game losing streak on Monday night (weather permitting) against the Angels, the Mets have won two in a row and head to Colorado for a four-game series against the Rockies.
Oh, yeah, Denver is in the midst of the snowiest April in years, and the area could get more with a winter storm that's predicted to last well into the week. Further postponements would send the guys who shoe-horn makeup games into the schedule back to the drawing board, and chances are slim of playing any games this week at another ballpark with a more inviting climate.
"There's so many variables," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told the New York Post on Saturday. "Getting to another venue, I think, is remote and remote in regards to the short time frame."
NOTES: When Sunday's game is made up in August, the Mets will have to fly halfway across the country from San Diego, where they play the Padres the preceding afternoon. After the game, the Mets get back on a plane and fly home for a two-game series against Atlanta. ... The makeup date stretches the Twins' mid-August homestand to eight games, following three against Cleveland and four against the White Sox. The Twins fly to Detroit after playing the Mets. ... With Wilkin Ramirez on paternity leave for three days, the Twins called up fellow outfielder Oswaldo Arcia to take his roster spot. The 21-year-old Arcia is hitting .414 with three home runs in nine games this season at triple-A Rochester. ... Mets manager Terry Collins said he used John Buck as protection for No. 3 hitter David Wright in Saturday's lineup, dropping first baseman Ike Davis from cleanup to seventh. Buck has six homers and 19 RBI. Davis is off to a 5-for-39 start with one extra-base hit and two RBI.