After Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey tossed a one-hit shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays last week, we noted that what Dickey was doing was unprecedented — by a Mets pitcher, by a knuckleballer, by a human. Well, last night what he did was even more unprecedented.
On the heels of that one-hitter, Dickey went out last night against the Baltimore Orioles and threw another one in a 5–0 road victory. If you're one who puts a high value on strikeouts — and that's generally the main part of pitching pitchers control — this one might have been even better than the last one; Dickey struck out thirteen Orioles, a career high. The one hit came from Wilson Betemit in the fifth inning, and it was a clean one, with no possible protest from the Mets this time. ("Do I have a chance to appeal? I had a bad view," manager Terry Collins joked.)
This is a pretty amazing thing that Dickey is doing. He has now given up one earned run in his last six starts, over 48 2/3 innings in which he has struck out 63 batters and walked only 5. He's the first National League pitcher to throw consecutive one-hitters since 1944. (And he's the first pitcher at all to do it since Dave Steib in 1988.)
The best part about this, of course, is that Dickey is doing it with one pitch. Dickey isn't getting too mental about the whole thing, saying he's been able to "do some stuff with it," whatever that means, but not only is Dickey the only knuckleballer in baseball right now, he's throwing it better than anyone ever has. The knuckleball is still the pitch of mystery in baseball, one that flies in the face of traditional scouting and statistical analysis. Dickey is, in a literal way, in a class of his own. (Fangraphs is trying to map Dickey's pitches, and the best you can do is applaud the effort.) This is unlike anything else happening in baseball right now; it's something we'll be talking about for years. His next start is Sunday night, national television, at Citi Field against the mighty Yankees. We wouldn't miss it for the world. And we hope this doesn't end for a long, long time.