The Orioles came up against one of baseball’s best pitcher Monday night in New York, and 37-year old R. A. Dickey did to them what the birds did to the Atlanta Braves over the weekend: totally grinded their offense to a complete halt.
Dickey came into the game with a 10-1 record, and an ERA of 2.20. He had thrown a 1-hitter his last time out in Tampa, and he hadn’t allowed an earned run since May 22nd in Pittsburgh, 5 starts earlier. He still hasn’t. Dickey’s knuckleball did more dancing than Baltimore Pride. And home plate umpire Eric Cooper’s strike zone provided plenty of dance floor for it. Some umpires have postage stamp-sized strike zones. Cooper’s was more the size of a FedEx truck. Not that Dickey (W, 11-1) needed the help. Wilson Betemit’s single with 2-outs in the fifth was the only hit the birds would muster.
Jake Arrieta, meanwhile, probably deserved better fates. He matched Dickey, zero-for-zero on the scoreboard, until things came unwound for him in the 6th. Dickey began the inning with a single to center, and 1-out later, he moved to third on a double by Jordany Valdespin. David Wright then lined out to JJ Hardy at short, and Hardy fired to Betemit at third, just a bit too late to double off Dickey. Arrieta walked Lucas Duda to load the bases with two outs for Mets first baseman Ike Davis. Trying to get ahead, Arrieta threw a fastball that got too much of the plate to Davis on his first pitch, and Davis didn’t miss it. His first career grand slam gave the Mets a 4-0 lead that instantly seemed insurmountable. And so it was.
Arrieta (L, 3-9) would stay on through one more inning, and finish with a respectable line: 7IP, 6H, 4ER, 4K, 1BB, 1HR. He was scored upon in just the one inning. But, when the game hangs on the slimmest of margins, the 10-1 pitcher usually beats the one with a 3-8 record. And so he did.
Kevin Gregg came on in the 8th, and gave up a run on 2 hits and a walk. He also struck out the side.
The Orioles face another tough customer Tuesday in Johan Santana (4-3, 3.23). Tommy Hunter (3-3, 5.58) goes for the Orioles. Game time is 7:10.
- While he certainly didn’t look to be Dickey’s equal, Arrieta spent most of the game staying stride-for-stride with the best pitcher in the game right now. It was a very encouraging outing.
- It’s hard to blame the Orioles when Dickey has been doing this to everyone he’s faced for almost a month. In fact, dating back to the last game Dickey allowed an earned run (May 22nd), his ERA in 6 games is a ridiculous 0.18. Monday, he became the first pitcher to throw back-to-back 1-hitters since Dave Stieb did it for Toronto when Ronald Reagan was president.
- Literally seconds after Ike Davis connected for his game-winning grand slam, another ballplayer was delivering a decisive hit in New York. Derek Jeter’s 2-run single put the Yankees ahead for good in their series opener with the Braves, as the Yanks pull to 2.5 games up on the Orioles. The Yankees have now won 10 straight.