When the best weapon in your quiver has a quiver, it can result in the kind of quick, satisfying evening R.A. Dickey enjoyed Wednesday night. Dickey's knuckleball was doing so much dancing and fluttering and wobbling past the Miami Marlins' hitters that he barely employed his other pitches in a 5-1 victory that took a mere two hours and 29 minutes.
Because both Dickey and Miami starter Mark Buehrle prefer not to dawdle on the mound, Dickey estimated that the first six of his seven innings of work took only an hour and 38 minutes. "That was fun," Dickey said. "I like to work quick and for the other guy to work quick. I would love for every guy to work quick and give up a solo shot in every inning. So it's 8-1.
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"I knew I had a good knuckleball and I was going to make them hit it. I threw 100 pitches and I threw 95 knuckleballs. Normally, I'm probably about 85 percent, 80 percent knuckleballs."
He allowed only three hits before leaving with a 2-1 lead provided by David Wright's two-run homer in the sixth, then watched from the dugout as the Mets added three insurance runs in the eighth. Dickey (3-1 allowed only one baserunner through his first 4 1/3 innings, on a second-inning single by Logan Morrison.
With one out in the fifth, Omar Infante parked a Dickey knuckler in the second deck behind leftfield. He saw it up, he saw it big, and he creamed it," Dickey said. "He gets the better of me, but it's a good competition. He's got a real definitive plan against me. I don't know exactly what that is yet. But I will.
"The hard thing sometimes is to put bad outings behind and it's nice to have one like this. Other times I've had bad outings, it just comes with experience to realize that, that does not define you and that you're capable of doing something greater than you've showed. You trust that, or you try to trust that in the moment, and I was able to do that tonight."
In his last appearance, a week earlier in Atlanta, Dickey was battered for eight runs in 4 1/3 innings. But, as with Johan Santana, who quickly put aside a messy performance to win on Tuesday, Dickey reverted to a previous tidiness.
"You're not going to get too many back-to-back bad starts out of either of those guys," manager Terry Collins said, "and [today] we need Jon Niese to give us what he can do. Our starting pitching is pretty good."
Collins still didn't have an update on the seriousness of Mike Pelfrey's elbow injury, so Friday night's starter in Denver is listed as TBA, though minor-league call-up Chris Schwinden is "the most logical guy at the moment," Collins said. Meanwhile, he insisted there will be no knuckling under to anybody.