|New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey baffles the Phillies at Citi Field in likely final start. (NYDailyNews.com)|
David Wright's RBI double in the 8th put New York ahead to stay and brought a happy ending to R.A. Dickey's masterful start, giving the Mets a 2-1 victory over the playoff-bound Phillies in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader.
The Good Stuff:
- R.A. Dickey won't get the W on this day, but oh boy did he deserve it: in 7 innings, he gave up just 1 run and didn't give up any hits till the 7th. After likely his final start of the season, Dickey drops his ERA to a team-leading 3.28, miles better than his 8-13 record would indicate. With normal offensive production behind him, R.A. could be 13-8. Maybe next year he will be, because he has all but locked up a spot in the rotation for 2012.
- In the bottom of the 7th, Valentino Pascucci came up to pinch hit for Jason Pridie. The last time the 32-year-old career minor-leaguer hit a home run, it was in 2004 for a team that doesn't exist anymore (the Montreal Expos). So what does he do against Philly ace Cole Hamels? Only recall the "slugger" of his 25-year-old days. Pascucci hammered an 0-1 fastball over the Great Wall of Flushing and tied the score at 1-1, getting Dickey off the hook. Pascucci now has 3 home runs in his big-league career, none so big as this one (I'm pretty sure).
- In the bottom of the 8th, Ruben Tejada singled after a 7-pitch at-bat against Brad Lidge. Tejada proceeded to pick up a rare stolen base, his 5th of the year, with David Wright at the plate. Both were rewarded for Ruben's speed: David sliced a groundball off the tarp in left field for the eventual game-winning RBI double. Wright's struggled this month (his batting average is down to a pedestrian .257 for the year), but a rare clutch hit like this one is welcomed by all. Perhaps he can use this hit to start a hot streak in these final 5 games of the year.
- Jose Reyes went 1-3 with a stolen base, boosting his batting average to .3295, a fraction of a point ahead of Ryan Braun, whose Milwaukee Brewers clinched their division last night.
- The bullpen bent but didn't break once Dickey made his exit: Miguel Batista got through 2 outs of the 8th and Bobby Parnell got the last one, putting himself in line for the W. Manny Acosta got the first two outs of the 9th then gave up a single and a walk, but got Carlos Ruiz to fly out to center to end the game and give the Amazin's win #75 in 2011.
- Seven thousand, nine hundred, sixty-three. The New York Mets have now played 7,963 regular-season games in their 50-year history. All 7,963 times, the other team's gotten a hit. R.A. Dickey got through 19 outs, 6 1/3 innings, before Shane Victorino spoiled the bid with a double. Today was the closest New York got to that elusive no-no this season; Dillon Gee got through 5 2/3 against Washington in May. I've said it before, I'll say it again: we will get a no-hitter eventually. As long as we get ours before San Diego gets theirs, I'll be fine. But after nearly 50 seasons without this ultimate pitching feat, the pressure ramps up with every game that passes. I think we're to the point now that whenever it happens, it will make the team's entire season. It won't matter if the team loses 100 games that particular year; the fact that we finally got that no-hitter will make the whole season a success.
- Jason Bay started after an illness wiped out his series in St. Louis; he grounded into a double play in the 1st and was taken out after the 3rd, as those symptoms started popping up again.
The no-hitter will have to wait at least another day, but a win is still a win. And a win against the Phillies? Sending them to their 7th straight loss? Even better. David Wright improved his reputation in the clutch, and R.A. Dickey went out with a bang (Terry Collins has said he might get some time in the bullpen the final couple games). Overall, a great way to start a doubleheader. To paraphrase Cub great Ernie Banks, "Let's win two!"
P.S. Also in the news today, a message from an all-time great Met: Darryl Strawberry tells Jose Reyes to not leave the Mets. Straw went to the Dodgers in free-agency in the early '90s, and he's telling Reyes not to make the same mistake he did, telling him something to the effect of what David Letterman opens his show with every night: "New York City is the greatest city in the world." This could be potentially huge, and if Jose listens, someday we might see Jose Reyes with Darryl Strawberry in the same fraternity of all-time Met greats.
UPDATE, 6:40 p.m.
Thanks for the re-tweet Darryl!