NEW YORK — Baltimore Orioles Manager Buck Showalter, while with the Texas Rangers, is credited as one of the men who convinced R.A. Dickey that the only way he would be a successful major league pitcher was to attempt to master the knuckleball.
On Monday, Dickey, arguably the most difficult pitcher to hit in the big leagues right now, made that advice come back to haunt Showalter in a 5-0 New York Mets win.
“I’m still mad,” Showalter joked pre-game about just how successful Dickey has become since that fateful time in 2005. “I think the biggest thing was the makeup. He had every attribute of a major league pitcher except the arm. Everything. The big thing was whether he was going to buy into it. But he loved a challenge. I wish it hadn’t happened.”
Continually throwing his 80-plus mph knuckleball for strikes Monday night, Dickey continued his 2012 dominance, taking a no-hitter into the fifth until Orioles third baseman Wilson Betemit laced a two-out single. The announced crowd of 29,014 chanted “R.A. Dickey” throughout the one-hit gem.
Perhaps what’s most impressive is that this is his second straight one-hitter, coming after last Wednesday’s one-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Toronto’s Dave Stieb in 1988 was the last pitcher to throw consecutive one-hitters, according to Elias Sports Bureau; Dickey is the first NL pitcher to do it since Jim Tobin of the Boston Braves in 1944.
In his last start, Dickey’s lone hit allowed came with two outs in the first inning when B.J. Upton dribbled a roller that Mets third baseman David Wright attempted to barehand, but couldn’t. The Mets challenged the ruling after the fact, hoping that Dickey would be awarded a no-hitter, but Major League Baseball denied the appeal.
Dickey (11-1) didn’t give up another hit until Betemit’s single with two outs in Monday’s fifth — a span of 13 complete, hitless innings. Dickey gave up an unearned run in the ninth of that game against Tampa, which snapped his scoreless streak at 312 / 3 innings.
The Orioles got a strong pitching performance of their own Monday night, but Jake Arrieta made a key mistake that cost them the game.
Arrieta retired 14 of the first 17 batters he faced. But in the sixth Dickey led off with a single, and, with one out, Jordany Valdespin, doubled. With two outs, Arrieta walked Lucas Duda.
Ike Davis then hit Arrieta’s first pitch of the at-bat into deep center for the first grand slam of his career. They were the only runs Arrieta allowed — but they were enough. The right-hander gave up six hits, one walk and struck out four in seven innings. Reliever Kevin Gregg allowed one run in the lone inning he pitched.
It was the first time the Orioles have had just one hit since July 1, 2011, when Jair Jurrjens of Atlanta did it to them. It was just the second loss in nine games for the Orioles (39-28).