With all due respect to Johan Santana, no pitcher in baseball is more enjoyable to watch right now than R.A. Dickey. In his complete-game one-hitter against the Rays tonight, Dickey notched 12 strikeouts, a career high, and did not walk a single batter. Dickey's ability to limit walks has been very impressive ever since he joined the Mets early in the 2010 season, but he has somehow gotten even better at controlling the seemingly uncontrollable knuckleball.
If not for an unearned run in the ninth inning, Dickey would have thrown his second shutout of the season, but he still managed to set a franchise record with 32.2 consecutive scoreless innings of work before the run scored.
Dickey threw just 106 pitches in his complete game, 79 of which were strikes. 23 of the strikes were of the swinging variety — that's a 21.7% rate compared to the 8.8% league average — as Dickey had the Rays looking clueless all night. With a 95 game score, per ESPN, Dickey's start is tied for third on the list of best games by a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball this season.
If all of that weren't enough, here's Dickey's updated stats line for the season via Fangraphs:
After the game, Terry Collins said the Mets would officially appeal the official scorer's decision regarding the Rays' only hit of the game, an infield single by B.J. Upton that David Wright unsuccessfully attempted to field with his throwing hand in the first inning. The odds of a scoring change are virtually non-existent, but if MLB were to defy the odds, Dickey would wind up with a no-hitter.
To make Dickey's outstanding start even more enjoyable, the Mets scored 9 runs on 14 hits despite the fact that they were up against David Price. They had opportunities in in the first few innings of the game but didn't break through until the fifth.
Ike Davis, who has looked much better over the past couple of nights, doubled to begin the inning, and Mike Nickeas singled to bring him home for the first run of the game. One out later, Andres Torres doubled to put runners on second and third with two outs, and Daniel Murphy chopped a single through the right side of the infield to bring both Nickeas and Torres home.
The Mets added four more runs in the sixth inning to put the game well beyond reach. Scott Hairston and Jason Bay singled, and Vinny Rottino doubled to plate Hairston. Ike followed up with a single to score Bay, and Nickeas reached first base on an infield single that could have been ruled an error on that Rays' third baseman. Omar Quintanilla then singled to score the Mets' sixth and seventh runs of the night.
J.P. Howell, who clearly is not the pitcher he once was, allowed singles to Torres and Murhy to start the ninth, and David Wright hit a very long two-run double in the ninth inning to put the Mets up by nine. Every hitter in the Mets' starting lineup tonight had at least one hit.
The Mets go for the sweep tomorrow at 1:10 pm with Johan Santana on the mound and Jeremy Hellickson pitching for Tampa Bay.
Big winners: R.A. Dickey, +25.1% WPA, Daniel Murphy, +15.5% WPA
Big losers:Omar Quintanilla, -4.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Daniel Murphy's two-run single in the fifth, +18.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Mike Nickeas' GIDP in the second, -12.6% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +25.1% WPA
Total batter WPA:+24.9% WPA