The trajectory of a knuckleball may be difficult to predict, but R.A. Dickey demonstrated consistent command of the wily pitch for eight innings in a four-hit, 3-1 Mets win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dickey has thrown two shutouts in his career, and he began the ninth with a chance to get his third overall and second one with the Mets.
This marks the second straight outing in which Dickey has flirted with notable numbers.
In his previous performance, he sent Twitter abuzz as he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Astros; Matt Down's three-run shot quickly grounded soaring hopes for the first no-hitter in Mets franchise history.
In that game, Dickey appeared frustrated with how quickly his near-perfect pitching had turned into a 3-1 deficit, but his disappointment was even more evident today. He started the ninth with a walk, and then gave up a double that led to the first Diamondbacks run of the game.
About to be pulled, Dickey hurled his rosin bag toward the mound like he was chucking the kind of heat he used to throw before becoming a knuckle-baller.
In disgust, Dickey marched deliberately toward the dugout with a stoic expression. He was nonetheless showered in praise, as Met fans rose in unison to applaud his efforts.
After today's victory, Dickey moves to 4-1, and the Mets are now 15-13 overall.
It wasn't all good news for the Mets, though.
Shortstop Ruben Tejada was injured while falling awkwardly over first base. Even though he landed in a face-plant, it is his right leg that is the biggest cause for concern.
Tejada's solid play in the infield and his consistent hitting at the plate have gone a long way toward filling the absence of star shortstop Jose Reyes, who's now playing with the Marlins.
There is no doubt fans will be waiting anxiously for news on Tejada's strained quadricep.
And Dickey will be anxious to get back on the mound to see if he can carry the momentum of two solid games into the kind of pitching performance that meets his increasingly high standards for himself.