It may not have been the best performance of the evening, –that accolade belongs to Matt Cain and his perfect game and 14 punchouts– but it was the most dominant performance by a Mets pitcher all season long. R.A. Dickey completed a masterful one-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays taking 106 pitches to do so while also going 32 2/3 straight shutout frames, trumping Jerry Koosman’s franchise record of 31 2/3 set back in 1973.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I am saying R.A. Dickey had a better outing last night than that of Johan Santana two weeks ago on the night of his no-hitter. Not to take anything away from Santana’s masterpiece, but I found Dickey’s one-hitter even MORE impressive. He is a knuckleballer who didn’t walk a single batter over nine frames and threw 79 of his 106 pitches for strikes. Compare that to Santana’s five walks and 77 strikes out of 134 pitches, and I give Dickey the upper hand.
The only two baserunners last night were the result of two botched balls by David Wright, one unjustly given the esteem of a base hit off the bat of BJ Upton with two outs in the first. If not for those two errors, Dickey would have had himself a perfect game. A knuckleballer throwing a perfect game? That sounds like some kind of far-fetched fantasy tale, yet if not for the poor defense behind him, R.A. Dickey would have made that fantasy a reality.
Dickey surrendered an unearned run, but only because of two passed balls by Mike Nickeas to move Wright’s error over to third and eventually score on a groundout in the ninth. As I mentioned before, that ended the longest scoreless stretch in franchise history.
No disrespect to Santana and his unimaginable no-hitter, but he struggled in the first few innings and had several hard hit balls on him throughout the evening and had his defense behind him. R.A. Dickey had a pretty sad defensive backing and it cost him perfection.
Again, both two of the best outings in Mets history, but I give R.A. Dickey last night a slight edge over the efforts of Johan Santana two weeks ago and any other Met this season or in recent memory. Its incredible to be able to pitch a no-hitter despite not having your best stuff, but another thing entirely for Dickey to be able to pitch a perfect game –on his end at least– using a knuckleball for 100 of those 106 pitches in order to do it.
He now sits at 10-1 on the year with a 2.20 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 90 punchouts. He is on a level of his own this season as he continues to become one of the best pitchers in the game. There is the feeling that he has the stuff to throw a no-hitter every time he takes the mound, and there was no better of an example of that than last night in St. Petersburg.