Conditions were perfect at AT&T Park in San Francisco for R.A. Dickey to resurrect last season's National League Cy Young-winning knuckleball form as the Toronto Blue Jays downed the San Francisco Giants 4-0.
Dickey was throwing into a wind that had his knuckler dancing with some of the same frenetic movement he so famously and consistently concocted during his magical 2012 season with the New York Mets.
Since he was traded to the Jays in the offseason, Dickey has had mainly inconsistent outings, already earning him ignominy with segments of a restless Toronto fanbase anxious to see some payoff for Dickey's sizable contract.
There have been few signs this season that Dickey would escape the quotation marks around his status as the Jays "ace." Entering the game with a 4-7 record, Dickey had already lost more games than he had during the entirety of his 2012 season with the Mets, when he won 20 and lost only 6. This season his ERA has ballooned over 5 and deflated many Jays fans' hopes in the process.
Dickey, though, has tried all season to maintain the hard-fought emotional poise he acquired while toiling for years in the minors. For one sunny afternoon, he was not only unflappable; he was nearly un-hittable. Besides giving up only two hits, Dickey regained his command and walked just two hitters in 8 1/3 innings.
The 38-year-old also helped himself offensively with a double down the left field line that scored his battery mate Henry Blanco. Dickey later scored on a Jose Bautista single, flying around the bases like he was a fresh-faced prospect trying to earn a spot on the roster.
The Jays may not be able to climb out of the American League cellar this season, and Dickey might not recapture consistent knuckleball mastery, but Jays fans can count on Dickey's grit.
Today was a reminder that you can't count him out.