Terry Collins the New York Mets manager celebrated his 63rd birthday Sunday and R.A. Dickey gave him the perfect gift helping with a second straight shutout by a Mets starter and the pen. Saturday, Johan Santana pitched a complete four-hit shutout and win over the San Diego Padres.
Dickey with 7.1 shutout innings paved the way for a New York 2-0 win at Citi Field over the San Diego Padres. New York took three of four from the injury plagued Padres , moving to 27-21, six games over .500 for the first time since July 18, 2010.
Dickey struck out ten and for the first time in his career had consecutive double digit strikeout games. This past Tuesday he struck out 11 Pirates in a Mets win at Pittsburgh.
“The game is about early flaws and right now I’m in the middle,” he said regarding the early season troubles that were encountered. But that was then and this is now, because Dickey is following Santana in the rotation and the Mets may have the best one-two combination when it comes to starters.
Dickey (7-1,) won his major league leading high-tying seventh game of the season. He extended his winning streak to five games and scoreless streak to a season-high tying 8.1 innings dating back to the win over Pittsburgh,
“It’s nice to be able to celebrate some good outings in a row and hopefully the next guy out feels an obligation to keep it where it’s out right now,” commented Dickey, the first Mets pitcher to have back-to-back games with at least ten strikeouts since Pedro Martinez in May of 2006.
Dickey added, “I certainly did after Johan passed the gauntlet.”
He gave up three hits, walked one, and hit one batter in 7.1 innings. San Diego got a hit in the first two innings and did not get another hit until a Jesus Guzman single in the seventh inning.
For the Padres, who won the first game of the series Thursday night, with a season high 11-runs, they looked helpless scoring one run on 11-hits the last three games.
“It’s tougher if he’s on,” said Padres manager Bud Black about the way Dickey throws the knuckle ball. “We were making him earn it, pumping strikes with the knuckleball.”
Collins is enthused the way his team has won games in their division and at home. New York is 15-9 at home and showing the National League they can may be around for the long run. They Mets won their first four-game series this season and once again scored in the first inning.
They have got on the board in the first or second inning in nine of their last ten games.
“When you play these teams you raise your level,” said Collins. The Padres, with 13 players on the disabled list are struggling, 17-32, and expect their slugger Carlos Quentin to return from the disabled list when they open a series Monday in Chicago.
Tim Byrdak leading baseball in appearance out of the pen got two outs to finish the eighth inning and Frank Francisco worked the ninth earning his 13th save and win for Dickey.
But Collins and the Mets have been there also and have managed to win ballgames when they have to. Still without catcher Josh Thole, shortstop Ruben Tejada, and outfielder Jason Bay, New York has won six of their last eight games and staying competitive in the NL east.
“We got to pick our game up,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it. But if we continue to pitch, we’ll be in some games.”
Daniel Murphy had an RBI single and Mike Baxter scored on a passed ball for the Mets runs. Edinson Volquez, (2-5), the losing pitcher, before the game was with Dickey in the bullpen area and getting tips about how to throw a knuckleball.
“It is hard to hit him,” said Volquez who was a teammate of Dickey back in Texas with the Rangers for a brief time. He has noticed that Dickey has an elevated knuckleball that has increased his strikeout ratio.
Right now, it is hard to get runs off Santana and Dickey. Jonathon Niese (3-2) opens the start of a three-game series with the Phillies at Citi Field Monday afternoon. These same Phillies, who are struggling and behind the Mets in the standings, which is something different at the end of May.
“Later this season we’ll evaluate that situation,” added Byrdak about the Phillies. For now the Mets will take the situation the way it is, and that means being competitive as the month of June approaches.
E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com