Mets morning briefing 4.30.12

Johan Santana tossed six scoreless innings. Yet the southpaw was saddled with a no-decision because Todd Helton belted a grand slam in the eighth off Tim Byrdak. Frank Francisco blew his first save as a Met by also surrendering a game-tying homer, on a solo shot by Carlos Gonzalez in the 10th. But the Mets ultimately prevailed on Ike Davis' RBI single in the 11th to win Sunday's rubber game at Coors Field, 6-5.

Monday's news reports:

• Santana remained winless this season, despite having allowed one run or fewer in all but one of his starts. It marks the first time since his rookie season in 2000 with the Minnesota Twins that Santana has failed to be credited with a victory in any of his opening five starts of a season. Terry Collins had a logical explanation for pulling Santana at 90 pitches after six scoreless innings. Santana was working on standard rest for the first time in the regular season since undergoing Sept. 14, 2010 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. Santana also was coming off his highest pitch count since his comeback. He had tossed 105 pitches against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.

• After completing a rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Buffalo, Andres Torres is due to be activated from the disabled list Monday in Houston. Assistant GM John Ricco announced righty-hitting corner infielder Zach Lutz would be demoted over Jordany Valdespin to create roster room. The biggest curiosity is the outfield alignment with Torres back. Collins announced pregame that Kirk Nieuwenhuis would move to left field, a position he has never played. After the game, and after Nieuwenhuis had a highlight-reel diving catch in left-center to keep Santana's outing scoreless in the fifth, Collins wavered slightly. Torres has started 30 major league games in left field. Still, Collins indicated, Nieuwenhuis is more likely than Torres to be in left field on Monday when the Mets face Astros right-hander Bud Norris at Minute Maid Park.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger suggests the perception among a segment of fans that Torres is an inferior center fielder to Nieuwenhuis is misguided. Writes McCullough:

Torres is the more accomplished fielder. From 2009 to 2011, he ranked seventh among center fielders in Ultimate Zone Rating, an advanced metric that attempts to quantify how many runs a defender saves. During that time period, Torres saved 19.4 runs while with San Francisco. Heading into the season, scouts questioned Nieuwenhuis’ ability to handle center field full-time. But he’s performed a series of high-wire catches since becoming the team’s regular there the second game of the season.

Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.

• In part to build team chemistry, Mets veterans suggested in spring training that players and staff wear western apparel during the trip from Denver to Houston. R.A. Dickey had an elaborate sheriff's outfit complete with fake gun, holster and badge. Daniel Murphy introduced pink to his cowboy ensemble. David Wright, Mike Nickeas and bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello dressed as the colorful "Three Amigos," complete with sombreros and fake mustaches. Mets players similarly plan a hockey-themed attire day for the May 18-20 interleague series at Toronto, during a trip that continues in Pittsburgh. See dress-up photos here.

• Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning visited Coors Field on Sunday. He attended the University of Tennessee along with Dickey and Helton, and is particularly friendly with the Rockies first baseman. Wright, while wearing his sombrero and fake mustache, bumped into Manning while entering the stadium in the morning, which amused the older brother of Eli. Read more in Newsday.

• Davis confessed to thinking back to his season-ending ankle injury in Denver last May 10 as he fielded a 10th-inning popup Sunday. Wright stayed out of the way this time.

Ruben Tejada had 10 hits in the three-game series and is now hitting .310. The last Met to have 10 hits in a three games series? That was Edgardo Alfonzo in 2000, also against Colorado. If Tejada has another three-hit game Monday in Houston, he will match the franchise record for consecutive three-plus-hit games. Brett Butler accomplished the feat in four straight games in 1995. Read more in Newsday.

• Read game recaps from Sunday's seesaw affair in the Post, Star-Ledger, Times, Daily News, Record, Journal and Newsday.

Zack Wheeler -- who had been the victim of a lack of run support -- finally picked up his first Double-A win, and 2008 first-round pick Reese Havens returned from injury with a homer in his first 2012 at-bat, as Binghamton beat Erie, 7-1, Sunday. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Broadcaster Howie Rose, who skipped the weekend series in Denver, was inducted into the Nationals Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum at Commack, Long Island, on Sunday. Wrote Steven Marcus in Newsday:

When he and his friends went to Shea and the Mets won, Rose recalled one of his chums yelling, "Put it in the books!'' It became Rose's signature line. Rose, who lives in Woodbury, also calls Islanders games on TV but is famously known for calling Stephane Matteau's winning goal in the second overtime for the Rangers against the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals during the 1994 run to the Stanley Cup. "I'm amazed 18 years later at how the Matteau call has endured,'' Rose said. "There are very few days when I'm in a public setting where somebody doesn't yell out 'Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!' " Rose, 58, also thanked Marv Albert for being an early mentor.

TRIVIA: Who did the Mets receive when they traded Mike Scott to the Astros on Dec. 10, 1982?

Sunday's answer: Larry Dierker won 14 career games against the Mets, the most of any Houston pitcher. Joe Niekro and Don Wilson rank second on that list with 12 career wins apiece against the Mets.