This afternoon R.A. Dickey became the sixth Mets pitcher ever to reach the 20-win plateau in a season. So in his honor, today’s “Glory Days” will spotlight his greatest performance from a season filled to the brim with greatness. It’s R.A. Dickey’s best baseball day as a Met (so far).
Dateline: June 18, 2012. After coming off his one-hitter at Tampa Bay the previous week, Dickey was back on the mound to face another strong AL East team, the Baltimore Orioles. R.A. and his knuckleball picked up right where they left off, as he retired eight straight Birdies to start the game and got through two outs in the 5th before allowing a Wilson Betemit single.
But while Dickey was dominant early in the game, Baltimore starter Jake Arrieta was just as good through the first five frames, allowing just four New York singles. But in the 6th, who else but the knuckler himself came up and slapped a single to start the inning. Kirk Nieuwenhuis flew out to center, but Jordany Valdespin hit a double to send Dickey to third. David Wright lined out to short and Lucas Duda walked, bringing up Ike Davis, who was a couple weeks into what turned out to be his resurgence. Any questions remaining as to whether Ike was really back were answered on Arrieta’s first pitch, as Davis launched a sinker into the Party City Deck in left center, just above the Gary Carter tribute sign. It was the first grand slam of his young career, and more importantly, it gave the man on the mound the necessary run support.
From there Dickey proceeded to mow down Oriole after Oriole. With his pitch’s speed it may have been a push mower, but the grass was cut just the same: two strikeouts in the 7th, two in the 8th, and a breeze of a 9th: Brian Roberts grounded out on two pitches, J.J. Hardy struck out on a seventh-pitch fastball, and Chris Davis saw five previous knuckleballs before Dickey’s sixth froze him like a crooked bank account. R.A.’s 114th pitch of the night gave him his 13th K (a career high he matched earlier today) and his second consecutive one-hitter and the third of his career. Final score: Mets 5, Orioles 0.
At that point in the season Dickey was 11-1 and his ERA dipped to 2.00, its lowest point in the season. While he was never quite as superhuman as he was in that magical month of June, he was nevertheless brilliant the rest of the way, as his knuckleball danced him to 20 wins this afternoon and perhaps a Cy Young Award at the end of the year. And unless things go horribly wrong next Tuesday in Miami, his chances are looking top-notch. At any rate his pitch could earn itself a Tony.
June 18. A good day for Don Sutton in 1986 (wins his 300th career game pitching for the California Angels) and mustachioed Oakland A’s fans in 1973 (Charlie Finley lets fans with facial hair in for free on Mustache Day). Also a good day for Winston Churchill’s legacy in 1940 (gives his “Finest Hour” speech to the House of Commons just before the months-long Battle of Britain during World War II). A bad day for Napoleon in 1815 (loses the Battle of Waterloo, resulting in his permanent exile from France) and Susan B. Anthony’s pocketbook in 1873 (fined $100 for trying to vote in the previous year’s presidential election). One of many great days for R.A. Dickey in 2012.