R.A. Dickey won his 20th game of the season to become the first New York Mets pitcher to accomplish that feat in 22 years, when Frank Viola won 20 games in the 1990 season. Dickey earned the win pitching a solid seven and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. Dickey also struck out a total of 13, to raise hit season total to 222, which leads the National League. His 20th win is also tied for first in the National League with Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals, and his 2.69 ERA is second in the NL to Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who has an ERA of 2.68. These numbers put Dickey on the short list to become the first Met to win the Cy Young Award in 27 years, when Dwight Gooden won it in 1985. He would also join Gooden and Tom Seaver as the only New York Mets Cy Young Award winners.
When asked about the possibility of winning the Cy Young after the game, Dickey said “the thought of it is surreal” and added “I want to be the best.” The Mets manager, Terry Collins, campaigned for his pitcher after the game. “No disrespect to Gio (Gonzalez) but they’re 25 games over .500. To win 20 on a club that struggles is big.”
The crowd of 31,506 was behind Dickey the entire game, none more than before his seventh-inning plate appearance, which began with a “R-A- Dickey” chant and ended with a infield single by the knuckleballer. “I would come out for an at bat and hear this growing surge” Dickey said of the crowd. But the day didn’t begin well for Dickey. He gave up two runs in the top of the second, as the Pittsburgh Pirates took a 2-0 lead. Ike Davis hit his 31st home run of the season in the bottom of the second to cut the lead to 2-1, but the Pirates answered in the third on a Rod Barajas solo homer to reclaim a two-run lead. The Mets would cut the lead to one again in the bottom of the fourth on a Scott Hairston single, before David Wright hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning off of Pirates starter Kevin Correia to put the Mets ahead for good. Asked about his thoughts after the Wright homer, Dickey replied “It was a load off. A breath. Here’s a window you have to take it.”
The Mets gave Dickey a scare in the ninth inning when reliever Jon Rauch gave up a two-run homer to Alex Presley to cut the lead to one, but Bobby Parnell was able to nail down the save by getting the last two outs of the game. Dickey also talked about the emotions of the game, and the physical toll. “It was as hard as it’s ever been to not get emotional. This day was as much about the fans as it was me. That’s as tired as I’ve been after a game.”
Collins agreed that it was also about the fans. “These people deserved to see him walk off the mound” Collins said when questioned about bringing Dickey out for the eighth inning, who finished throwing 128 pitches in the game. “This was about RA today…his connection to the fans…the city” Collins added. Perhaps the off season will be about Dickey accomplishing more history in a New York Mets uniform, one that sees him walk away with the National League Cy Young Award.