June 18, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the third inning at Citi Field.
I did not expect the Orioles to win this game. Did any of us? But I certainly didn't imagine that I'd witness a game like the one R.A. Dickey just pitched. The Orioles didn't have a chance against Dickey tonight, who is in the middle of an amazing season for the Mets.
In five starts since May 22nd, Dickey has not allowed an earned run. He did allow an unearned run in his last start against the Tampa Bay Rays, a start in which he pitched a complete-game one hitter with no walks and 12 strikeouts. Surely he couldn't top that tonight, could he? Well, if he didn't top it, he at the very least tied it. Dickey had the Orioles batters flummoxed all night, allowing just one hit, a soft single.
For over half this game, Dickey and Orioles starter Jake Arrieta exchanged zeroes on the scoreboard. Dickey retired the first eight batters he faced before walking Arrieta in the third. That didn't bother him thought, and he went right back to sitting down Orioles like it was nothing, inducing groundout after groundout.
Dickey's no-hitter was finally broken up in the fifth inning by Wilson Betemit, who singled with two outs. He didn't stay on the bases long, though, as the next hitter, Steve Pearce flied out to end the inning.
As for Arrieta, after five fantastic innings, Jake got in trouble in the sixth thanks to a leadoff single from....you guessed it! R.A. Dickey. After a fly ball from Kirk Nieuwenhuis for the first out, Jordany Valdespin hit a fly ball to left fielder Steve Pearce. Pearce played the ball horribly and it went over his head for a double. It stinks that it happened that way, but I can't get on Pearce too much. He is, after all, an infielder. Finally the infielders playing the outfield came back to haunt this team.
The double put runners on second and third with one out, and David Wright hit a liner to shortstop. J.J. Hardy made the catch and quickly tried to double up Dickey at third, but he just got his hand on the base in time. It's worth noting that if Betemit had put his foot on the bag as the throw was coming to him until waiting to catch it and then stepping on the base, the runner probably would have been out. But maybe Betemit's feet don't work that way.
Arrieta pitched very carefully to the next batter, Lucas Duda, ultimately walking him. Given our hindsight, that probably wasn't the right move, but Duda has definitely been a better hitter this season than Ike Davis, the next batter up. I'm not sure what Arrieta was going for with his first pitch to Davis, but it ended up being a heater right down the heart of the plate. Davis put a good swing on it and it sailed out of the park in center field for the grand slam. Sigh.
Armed with a 4-0 lead (that would become a 5-0 lead thanks to Kevin Gregg getting some work in), Dickey had gone from tough to beat to impossible to beat. Gary Thorne and Mike Bordick talked in the booth that maybe the fact that Dickey was on the bases the entire inning might throw him off, but that wasn't even close to true. Of the final three innings he struck out six more batters, although he did issue a walk to Betemit in the eighth. As he threw strike three to Chris Davis to end the ballgame, I couldn't even be mad. Arrieta pitched better than his line showed in my opinion, and Dickey was a crazy knuckleball throwing strikeout machine. To quote our old friend Dave Trembley, sometimes you just have to tip your hat.