R.A. Dickey brought his knuckleball to the mound, and it was the first time the Phillies faced knuckleballers in consecutive games since 1983, when they saw Joe and Phil Niekro. The Mets took advantage and had a (relatively) easy time of it. Here are a couple of notes from today’s game:
- R.A. Dickey gave the Mets exactly what they needed tonight, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. He pitched six scoreless innings and struck out seven Phillies, but he allowed seven hits, walked three, and worked out of three bases-loaded jams in the top of the second and third. With the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the second, Dickey induced Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz into a 1-2-3 double play (I love the 1-2-3 DP: I think it looks awesome on a scorecard). However, he walked Juan Castro to reload the bases before getting Jamie Moyer to strike out to end the inning. Then, in the top of the third, he loaded the bases again before getting Raul Ibanez to line out to Jose Reyes to end that threat. Dickey even survived getting drilled on his left (non-pitching) elbow by a Ryan Howard liner. He played with fire but he didn’t get burned, and the Mets got a quality start from their new knuckleballer.
- Jamie Moyer also allowed seven hits and only walked two Mets, but he didn’t fare nearly as well as Dickey. Jose Reyes led off the game by grounding one “past a diving Polanco”, advanced to second on a Castillo bunt, stole third, and scored on a hard groundout to short from Jason Bay. It was a classic “Reyes run” and the Mets never looked back (Reyes also had an RBI triple in the top of the ninth).
- Even though Bay’s streak of reaching base ended at eight consecutive plate appearances, his hard hit grounder was enough to score Reyes. He’s still locked in at the plate and producing.
- Speaking of producing, Jeff Francoeur had three consecutive productive plate appearances. He missed some very hittable pitches in his first at bat but reached out and pulled an outside change-up to left to knock in the Mets’ second run in the bottom of the second. In the bottom of the fourth, he hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field to score David Wright. He then lead off the bottom of the sixth with a double and scored the Mets’ fifth run on a pinch-hit single from The Animal, Chris Carter. Frenchy is still a below-average hitter, but hopefully tonight’s performance will get him started again.
- Raul Valdes relieved Dickey in the top of the seventh. He struck out Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and induced Jayson Werth to ground out to Wright. He walked Castro with two outs in the top of the eighth but quickly retired pinch hitter Ben Francisco, then hit a two out, RBI double over Werth’s head in the top of the ninth. He would stay in to finish off the Phightin’s in the top of the ninth, giving the rest of the bullpen an extra day off.
- The Mets scored three consecutive two-out runs in the bottom of the eighth off of ex-Met Nelson Figueroa, highlighted by Valdes’ double and Reyes’ triple. It was a great relief to see them add to their lead: it’s been awhile since they’ve had nice easy win.
It was a nice, easy win, but tomorrow is another day. Your starters will be Joe Blanton for the Phillies and Hisanori Takahashi for the Mets. Hopefully the Mets will keep the pedal to the medal and pick up some more ground in the NL East. Let’s go Mets!