Matsui gift wraps loss with 12th error

For the Mets, this really wasn't the way they wanted Interleague play to begin. <P> New York wasted a superb starting effort from Tom Glavine in Minnesota on Tuesday night, as Kaz Matsui's ninth-inning error set up the winning run in a 2-1 loss to the Twins.

"We gift-wrapped this one," manager Art Howe sneered to a TV crew, a rare display of emotion from the stoic skipper. "We gave this one away."

Matsui has certainly been stretching out his adjustment period as he adapts to playing in the United States, but in a situation where he probably should have been the most comfortable – playing on the indoor artificial turf of the Metrodome, a setting reminiscent of numerous Japanese stadiums – Matsui struggled once more on defense.

He committed his 12th error of the season in just 57 games, a staggering amount which leads National League shortstops.

In the ninth inning, Mets reliever Mike Stanton induced rookie Joe Mauer to bounce to short with what could have been an inning-ending double play, which would have sent the game to extra innings. Matsui fielded the ball but rushed his transfer to second baseman Ty Wigginton, losing the ball and any opportunity at recording even one out on the play.

The Twins won the game a batter later, when Michael Cuddyer legged out an infield single that allowed Jacque Jones to score from third base.

"I've got to basically say, 'I'm sorry' to the guys," Matsui told reporters through an interpreter. "That little play right there probably cost us the game."

Matsui was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in the loss, which dropped the Mets one game below the .500 mark at 28-29, 4-1/2 games behind the Florida Marlins in the NL East.

New York sends Steve Trachsel to the hill Wednesday in Minnesota in the second game of three, opposing the Twins' Johan Santana. The Mets head to Kansas City for a three-game weekend matchup before returning to Shea Stadium next week.


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