New York – R.A. Dickey could have completed the game and after eight innings Wednesday evening at Citi Field he had the ability to do so. The knuckleball was working, and so was the fastball. But New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel had another intention. Bring in closer Francisco Rodriquez for the ninth even though the Mets had a 5-0 lead over the Detroit Tigers.
“I know that we have to keep Frankie on some type of game regimen and it’s a difficult, difficult decision that you have to deprive a guy of a complete game shutout,” said Manuel about his decision. Dickey once again was superb throwing 97 pitches, allowing four hits and two walks.
He retired 13 consecutive Tiger batters from the fourth inning on. Again Dickey, now 6-0 proved he will have to be forced out of the Mets starting rotation. And the only way that will happen is if Dickey suddenly loses control of the knuckleball which had the Tigers struggling.
“He’ll have to have a number of bad outings to take him out of the rotation,” admitted Manuel. The 35-year old Dickey who was bypassed in spring training after signing a minor league deal has come up big. He is one of the reasons the Mets are back in contention, and got a spot in the rotation when Oliver Perez and John Maine went on the disabled list.
But why not let Dickey go the route and use your closer with a secure lead in the ninth? “If we don’t do that,” said Manuel about using Rodriguez, “we fall back into a category of not having him sharp and he needs to be sharp. And we found out if he doesn’t get those innings it becomes very difficult for him to close out games.”
Perhaps the correct answer from Manuel, because the last appearance for Rodriquez out of the pen was last Friday evening when he recorded his 16th save against the Yankees where he stranded two inherited runners. Rodriguez also made it known before the game, to Manuel that he needed to pitch It was a decision that Dickey accepted when he did not go out for the ninth, even though he would have loved to have finished off the Tigers.
Said, Dickey “I was unsuccessful,” regarding his request to Manuel about taking the mound for the ninth.
But this is a Mets team, and a clubhouse that is unified and will do anything positive that will lead to another win. “Keeping Frankie sharp is going to win us ballgames,” said Dickey the first Mets pitcher to go 6-0 in his first seven starts with the team. It was also the Mets major league leading 10th shutout of the year and Dickey has allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of his seven starts.
The Mets, now 11 games over .500 at 41-30 also picked up a game on the Atlanta Braves now trailing them by a half game in the NL east. And once again the Mets got on the board early because of Jose Reyes. He led off the first inning with a triple, but his single and stolen base in the third led to a run off the double from David Wright giving them a 1-0 lead.
New York would add another run in the fifth off Detroit starter and loser Jeremy Bonderman (3-5). They would put three more runs on the board in the seventh. And Reyes, like Angel Pagan the night before, fell short of hitting for the cycle. Besides the single and triple, Reyes hit a two-out solo home run off Bonderman in the fifth, his sixth of the season.
“I feel like I am back for sure,” said Reyes reiterating that he has rebounded from his injury shortened season of last year. He has scored at least one run in 11 of his last 14 games, and the Mets are 28-7 when Reyes scores at least one run.
Surly he is the catalyst, as has always been known to the Mets lineup.
NOTES: Angel Pagan who had four runs batted in the night before and was a home run short of the cycle was removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. Jesus Feliciano replaced him and got his first big league RBI on fielder’s choice induced by a groundout.
There is a concern that Pagan, the most consistent hitter in the Mets lineup, could miss some playing time because of spasms in his right side. Manuel will sit down Pagan in the series finale Thursday evening. “I’ve played through pain before,” said Pagan. “This situation I am trying to be smart to keep playing,” he said realizing that Carlos Beltran will return soon and the Mets will have three spots and four outfielders More so for precautionary reasons…
With the win, the Mets improved to 11-3 in inter league play…David Wright with his RBI, 19 in inter league play, leads the majors in that category… The Mets scored four of their five runs with two outs including a two-out, two-run single by Ike Davis in the seventh…
New York is 26-10 at home and 12-2 over its last three homestands…Ruben Tejada, rumored to be sent down soon when Luis Castillo returns from the disabled list extended his career high hitting streak to seven games with a single in the Mets three-run seventh, He is batting .348 during that span…
Series finale will see (2-1) Armando Galarraga, the near perfect game pitcher taking the mound for Detroit opposing Lefthander Hisanori Takahashi (6-2, 3.13 ERA) who threw six scoreless innings against the Yankees Friday evening…
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com