R.A. Dickey became the sixth pitcher in franchise history to produce a 20-win season as the Mets completed their home schedule with a 6-5 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday afternoon. David Wright hit a tiebreaking three-run homer and the Mets survived Jon Rauch surrendering a two-run homer to Alex Presley in the ninth.
Dickey became the first knuckleballer to win 20 games since Joe Niekro with the Houston Astros in 1980, according to STATS LLC. He will make one more start this season, in Miami. "The road to where he is today, a lot of people dream it. Few achieve it," Terry Collins said. In the Cy Young race, Gio Gonzalez improved to 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA after allowing three runs in six innings in Washington's 7-3 win at Philly on Thursday night.
A statistical comparison of NL Cy Young candidates R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez.
Dickey became the third-oldest pitcher to record the first 20-win season of his major-league career when he beat the Pirates at Citi Field. Dickey (age 37 years, 334 days as of Thursday), trails only Mike Mussina (who was 39 years old when he won his 20th game for the 2008 Yankees) and Jamie Moyer (age 38 with the 2001 Mariners) on that list.
Dickey is 20-6 this year for a Mets team that has a 72-84 record. He will be the first pitcher to win 20 or more games in one season for a team that finished with a losing record since 1997, when Roger Clemens was 21-7 for the Blue Jays (76-86) and Brad Radke posted a 20-10 mark for a poor Twins team (68-94).
Frank Viola, the Mets' last 20-game winner, who served as pitching coach with low-A Savannah this season, told Brian Lewis in the Post about Dickey: “I texted him and told him I’m happy. It’s a real year of firsts, Johan gets the no-hitter, R.A. wins 20 games. So there’s real hope for the future of this organization. You know there’s something there, that bright silver lining at the end; R.A. is definitely one of them this year.’’ Viola's son, Frank Jr., is trying to revive a professional baseball career with the knuckleball and has received lessons from Dickey.
The Mets finished their home schedule 36-45. Overall, they're now 158-166 in four seasons at Citi Field. The Mets' 287 runs at home this season were their fewest since 1994, when they scored 235 runs at Shea. The Mets did benefit from the new dimensions to produce 67 homers this season at Citi Field -- their highest total in four years at the ballpark -- although opponents had five more new homers than the Mets that only would have been out with the new configuration.
"I don't expect them to change again," Collins said about the dimensions. "I just think they made a difference. Certainly we've seen the effects. And I don't have all the documentation about who hit what home runs, and how many last year would have been doubles. But I think it's fair park now. It's still a pitchers' park for me. It's still a big park. There's a lot of room in that outfield. But I think the change of the dimensions certainly lifted the confidence of a lot of guys in our lineup."
Keith Hernandez's mustache is outta here. With a sizable gathering as witnesses just before noon on Thursday outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, Hernandez had his "iconic" mustache shaved. Schick Hydro donated $5,000 to the Brooklyn center where Hernandez's mother Jacquelyn was assisted while dealing with Alzheimer's.