The last time the Orioles faced R.A. Dickey, it didn’t go well for them. He pitched a one-hit shutout against them last June 18 for the Mets with just two walks and 13 strikeouts.
He was on a real roll then. After that start, he improved to 6-0 with an ERA of 0.18 over his previous six starts. That is right, 0.18 as he had allowed just one earned run over 48 2/3 innings on his way to the National League Cy Young Award.
Dickey is 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA through four starts in 2013 with Toronto. He gave up 10 earned runs over 10 2/3 innings in his first two starts, but has allowed just one run over 12 1/3 frames in his last two starts, going 2-0.
So what is the approach against the knuckler the Orioles will see from Dickey tonight?
“Keep it simple. See it and hit it,” J.J. Hardy said. “You can’t think too much, you don’t know what it’s going to do. It’s tough. Hope he hangs a few against us.”
So does the theory that goes, “If it’s high, let it fly,” work for some batters?
“People say that, but it doesn’t matter. Sometimes when it’s high, it just keeps going higher,” said Hardy, who is 1-for-6 in his career against Dickey. “It’s hard to lay off pitches that are close. It’s just a tough pitch and it always presents a big challenge. I don’t think that many can throw as good a knuckleball as Dickey does.”
The Blue Jays may be watching Dickey closely tonight. He left his start last Thursday against the Chicago White Sox after six shutout innings of two-hit ball with soreness and muscle spasms in his neck and upper back.
“I had a knuckleball tonight where I would have thrown a complete game, so it was unfortunate that (the injury) acted up on me,” Dickey told reporters after that game. He first started feeling some discomfort in his start before that on April 13 against Kansas City.
I asked Hardy if the Orioles need perhaps to show some patience tonight against Dickey and maybe take a few pitches.
“You definitely want to see if he can control it,” Hardy said. “I guess early on if you take a few, couldn’t hurt. Sometimes it moves so much, he doesn’t know where it’s going.”
By the way, the Orioles are trying to go 3-0 in games started against them by 2012 Cy Young winners tonight. They are 2-0 against Tampa this season when David Price started against them and they scored 17 runs in those games.
Updated: There will not be a shutout tonight as the O’s plated four runs on four hits and one error in the last of the second to gain an early 4-0 lead. The inning featured an RBI single by Matt Wieters, a Nolan Reimold sac fly and two-run single from Manny Machado.
Reimold had just one RBI over his first 12 games, but now has six RBIs over his past five games.