So apparently R.A. Dickey isn’t some kind of cyborg sent to Earth to master the unmasterable pitch and take the baseball world by storm. Tonight against the New York Yankees, the New York Mets incredible 37-year-old knuckleballer struggled for the first time since the beginning of April. After pitching back-to-back one-hitters–the first MLB pitcher to do that since Dave Stieb in 1988–the R.A. Dickey mania, or whatever you want to coin it as (Dicksantiy?) grew to an unbelievable extent. The people covering the Mets and their fans have been well aware of how well R.A. has been pitching but the second one-hitter was what really caught the attention of a national audience. Dickey has been absolutely dominant, posting a league best 11-1 record along with a 2.00 ERA (best in MLB) and 103 strikeouts (also an MLB best).
While you couldn’t expect Dickey to never allow an earned run again, it was still stunning to see him struggle with command tonight. His walk to strikeout ratio has been otherworldly (I just can’t seem to get over the cyborg theory) this season but tonight his command just wasn’t what is has been of late, walking 3 batters in 6 innings pitched. He allowed 5 earned runs which effectively ended his streak of 44.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. The real killer for Dickey tonight was the 3-run home run from the newest man that Mets fans love to hate, Nick Swisher and his quote: “stupid face”. Mets fans have not appreciated what they have called antics when he’s run around the dugout with his hands up or seems to be jubilant about everything.
The only real concern here is that you hope Dickey doesn’t take this poor performance to heart and let it stick around in his head. The good thing is that I don’t think any of us expect him to. On a rainy day playing the Atlanta Braves in early April, his only poor start before tonight, he allowed 8 earned runs and didn’t get through 5 full innings. He could’ve sulked, he could’ve wallowed and been discouraged about that start and I don’t know how many of us would have blamed him but he didn’t do that. He continued on pitching the way he does–well–and after a couple of pretty good starts this unbelievable run began. While he didn’t have his best stuff tonight, R.A. Dickey actually got a hit and scored a run as his teammates rallied to tie the game and get him off of the hook for what would have been his second loss this season. That’s when you know it may just be your year, and that’s pretty special. Even if he isn’t a robot.
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