New York’s Dickey is on a major roll

Copyright ©2010. the Associated Press. Produced by NewsOK.com all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.  

For 8 2/3 innings, R.a. Dickey thought about nothing but his next pitch.

He refused to look up at his wife in the stands at Citi Field. he refused to look back at his life and all the ups and downs that led him to this moment. he refused to pull away and admire the beauty of it all, to admire how the mastery of this wildly unpredictable pitch had taken his wildly unpredictable career to yet another new height.

Instead, for most of Monday night’s 5-0 win over the Orioles, Dickey stuck with mechanics, digging the nails of his forefinger and thumb into the leather just beneath the seams and throwing strikes. It wasn’t until throwing 79 of them — until he had only two more strikes to go before securing his second consecutive one-hitter — that the Mets’ knuckleballer did something he rarely lets himself do.

“I let myself take it all in,” Dickey said. “I let my eyes wander to where I knew my family was sitting. It was pretty phenomenal with everybody screaming and yelling. My knees were shaking and there was an adrenaline rush. It was rich, simply because I’ve been on the other side of the coin too.”

Dickey, who Monday night became the first pitcher in 24 years to throw back-to-back one-hitters, has spent most of his career on that “other side of the coin,” bouncing back and forth between the minor leagues and the bullpen of various major league clubs before breaking into the Mets’ starting rotation in may 2010. now, at age 37, an age when most players have already retired, the former RedHawk is not only having the best year of his career, but the best year of any pitcher in baseball.

Dickey (11-1, 2.00 ERA and third in MLB with 103 strikeouts) entered Sunday night’s game against CC Sabathia and the Yankees with the best record and tied with Atlanta’s Brandon Beachy for the lowest ERA in the game. Dickey hasn’t given up an earned run in five consecutive starts, and 42 2/3 innings, which is the second-longest streak in club history behind only Dwight Gooden’s 49 straight innings in 1985. Dickey has done it all by primarily throwing one pitch, the mysterious and misunderstood knuckleball, a fact that has left Mets manager Terry Collins in awe.

“When you think about the Koufaxes and the Seavers and the greats, 97-mph fastball and great curveballs … This guy is just amazing with that pitch,” Collins said. “How he commands it is unbelievable.”

Knuckle down

When a properly thrown knuckleball leaves a pitcher’s hand, it doesn’t rotate. This results in a wildly unpredictable pitch that can take a dive or sharp turn at the last moment and leave batters lurching around the plate like actors in a Three Stooges movie. One big thing that separates Dickey, the only knuckleballer in today’s game, from practitioners of the past is how hard he can throw the pitch. According to fangraphs.com, Dickey’s knuckleball has averaged 77 mph this season. His slowest knuckler has been 66.6 with his hardest clocking 81.7.

“I would have loved to have thrown it that hard,” said Charlie Hough, who was 216-216 in a 25-year career with the Dodgers, Rangers, White Sox and Marlins, and was one of Dickey’s earliest mentors. “He’s pitching as good as anybody ever. What he’s done is just amazing, especially when you know his story and where he came from. It’s an incredible feat.”

News Photo Galleriesview all

New York’s Dickey is on a major roll


Related Websites

    Be Sociable, Share!