The bad news is that even after thrashing the Phillies 8-0, the Mets are still in last place in the NL East. The good news is that only four games (and four teams) separate them from first place. The great news is that if R.A. Dickey keeps pitching well I'll finally have a regular outlet for my thinly veiled phallically euphemistic headlines.
In his second start with the Mets, Dickey kept the Phillies off the board for six innings, though to say he was dominant wouldn't be entirely truthful. Ten batters reached base on Dickey's dime -- a few too many for six innings of work -- and nine of them were stranded (the tenth was erased on a 1-2-3 double play). While that's great for tonight, a 100% strand rate isn't the sort of thing you can expect to hold up from game to game. Nevertheless, there was a lot to like about Dickey's start.
- He struck out seven batters in six innings, and it would have been eight but for a swinging third strike by Shane Victorino to lead off the third that home plate umpire Tim Mcclelland bungled into a phantom foul tip. Three-and-two instead of "sit down Gazoo", and Victorino predictably watched the next pitch sail low for ball four and a gift base-on-balls.
- Dickey has been getting a lot of ground balls, inducing 15 to just six fly balls through his first two starts. His career ground ball rate is 1.22, so this is probably just a small sample aberration.
- On the other hand, he has recorded 13 line drive outs out of 34 outs in play, which is a startling 38.2% line drive rate. League average is like 20% and Dickey's career norm is 21.1%. As the law of large numbers takes back from the ground ball pot it should lower the buoys in the line drive pot as well. Let's hope so, anyhow.
- Dickey threw 103 pitches: 87 knucklers and 16 fastballs. He got one swinging strike on fastballs (6.3%) and 11 on knuckleballs (12.6%). One of the fastballs resulted in the Carlos Ruiz 1-2-3 double play in the second.
Check out these movement graphs of Jamie Moyer and R.A. Dickey from tonight's game. It's no secret that the knuckleball dips and dives in unpredictable ways, the movements of which make it such a fascinating and beautiful pitch. PITCHf/x frames that beauty for us as disorderly as you'd expect. First, here's Moyer's movement graph.
Nice, fairly well-defined clumps representing his different pitches. Now, Dickey.
A nice clump for his fastballs and then a wild, amorphous blob for his knuckleballs. Neat!
On the offensive side, every non-Dickey player on the Mets reached base at least once, including Chris Carter (pinch-hit RBI single) and Raul Valdes (RBI double over Jayson Werth's head). Jose Reyes had a huge Jose Reyes game, collecting a triple, two singles, two stolen bases, and three runs scored. Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur (!) knocked in two runs apiece.
And to top it all off, not that it matters especially, but no Met batter struck out even once tonight, which probably ties some kind of record.
Unintentional walk watch: Ike Davis: 17, Jeff Francoeur: 10.
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Dipping and dropping the pitches he knuckled
R.A. Dickey left Phillies befuddled and buckled
The view of Jose running out a lined triple
As exciting as a teen boy's first sighting of nipple
And even some signs of life from slumping Francoeur
Then Valdes throws three strong frames to slam shut the door
Big winners: R.A. Dickey, +28.0% WPA, Jeff Francoeur, +8.4% WPA
Big losers: Luis Castillo, -3.6% WPA, Ike Davis, -1.4% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Ruiz double play in second, +17.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Ibanez single in second, -8.5% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +30.7% WPA
Total batter WPA: +19.3% WPA
GWRBI!: Jason Bay
Nice job by freakystyley; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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