San Diego Padres starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (37) throws against the New York Mets in the second inning of an opening day baseball game at Citi Field on Monday, April 1, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
NEW YORK (AP) - Jonathon Niese stepped nicely into his new role as No. 1 starter for the Mets, and Collin Cowgill capped a successful New York debut with a grand slam in an 11-2 rout of the San Diego Padres on Monday.
Handed the opening day assignment in place of injured Johan Santana, Niese enjoyed a big afternoon with both his arm and bat. He breezed into the seventh inning against a Padres lineup missing slugger Chase Headley (broken thumb) and catcher Yasmani Grandal, suspended for the first 50 games after testing positive for testosterone.
Marlon Byrd had a pair of RBI singles and fellow Mets newcomer John Buck was in the middle of three rallies as New York improved baseball's best opening day record to 34-18 despite dropping its first eight openers.