…because we’re running out of them for R.A. Dickey.
The already-undermanned Dodgers had no chance against a knuckler that was once again unhittable. None whatsoever. The degree of their no-chanceness was such that for a good part of the night we were all grousing about whatever happened to Andres Torres out there on Aaron Harang’s pop fly in the third. Harang’s hit fell in, to the visible irritation of Dickey, as Torres seemed either not to see it or not to react the way you need a center fielder to react. The Dodgers didn’t collect another hit until A.J. Ellis singled in the seventh, which was something of a relief under the circumstances.
(Man, give a fan base a no-hitter every half-century and we immediately get all entitled.)
But then watching R.A. makes you feel like perfection’s within your grasp.
He pitched beautifully, once again, resuming where he left off before that hiccup against Satan’s insurgents. He’s 12-1, with a shot at going into the break (and one presumes the starting assignment for the All-Star Game) with 13 wins. He struck out 10 for the fifth time this season. His numbers in June: 5-0, 0.93 ERA, three complete games.
He can hit too — he put together an intelligent at-bat against Shawn Tolleson in the seventh, singling up the middle.
Oh, and he defends his turf the way the Mets haven’t done in years. After Aaron Harang ended his evening with a suspicious plunking of Ruben Tejada, R.A. waited for the opposing shortstop, Dee Gordon, and hit him in the fanny. Glowers, warnings issued, point made and taken, everyone moved on.
And that’s just what we saw. Between innings perhaps he was improving his calligraphy, or composing a heartbreaking sonnet that works in both English and Latin, or experimenting with cold fusion. He’s R.A. Dickey — I wouldn’t put anything past him.
Nor would I put much past the Mets right now — as is their recent pattern, they’ve followed a frustratingly narcoleptic string of games by walloping the tar out of any team foolish enough to get in their way. Tejada went 4 for 5, continuing his marvelous breakout season, Daniel Murphy slammed another homer, and David Wright started the scoring and made a couple of sparkling plays in the field. It’s an excellent time for another Mets manic phase — the Dodgers are trying to stay afloat until Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier return, the Phillies are teetering on the brink of irrelevance, and the Cubs suck. This is the soft underbelly of the schedule, and here’s hoping the Mets go Wild Kingdom on it.
Which isn’t to say they will, of course: The Mets look alternately like world-beaters and the downtrodden of the Earth, and I’ve decided the truth is that they’ve found the most exciting way to demonstrate that they’re somewhere in between. But that doesn’t apply to Dickey. His rare bad starts are just Amish stitches, humanizing demonstrations of fallibility. And increasingly when he starts, his teammates look on point in a Johanesque way. As with Johan, everyone else involved understands the man on the hill means business, and they’d better live up to his example.