SAN JUAN, P.R.: So far this season, R.A. Dickey has been one of the biggest surprises in all of baseball. Seven starts as a New York Met, six wins for the 35-year-old knuckleballer.
Tonight, he and the Mets will try and take their winning ways to another country, Puerto Rico. Major League Baseball moved this three-game series starting tonight from Miami to PR, so the Marlins will be the home team and bat last.
So far, Dickey has pitched six or more innings and has not allowed more than four runs in all of his seven starts. His last start on Wednesday was his best so far.
Against the Tigers, he pitched eight innings, shutting them out on four hits. He could have pitched a complete game, since he had only thrown 97 pitches, but Jerry Manuel wanted to get Francisco Rodriguez into the game.
He faced the Marlins at Citi Field earlier in the month and threw a quality start in a win. Six of Dickey's seven starts this season have been quality starts.
He'll be opposed by Ricky Nolasco, who'll be facing the Mets for the fourth time this season. Nolasco has had a very shaky season, with well pitched games and horribly pitched games.
His ERA is 4.92 and he has allowed 17 home runs this season, giving up a home run every 5.3 innings pitched.
He wasn't great in his last start against the Orioles in a Marlins win, giving up four runs on eight hits and two home runs in seven innings, while throwing 119 pitches, a season high.
The Marlins themselves have had a bad month of June, going 9-14, while getting swept this weekend at home by the Padres.
There has been a lot of speculation about who will be the team's next manager, with Fredi Gonzalez being fired last week. Most signs point towards former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, although there's a report saying he may not take the job.
Things have seemingly gone south for Florida since Hanley Ramirez's lack of hustle on a pop up earlier in the month, leading to Gonzalez benching him for a couple of games.
While the Marlins find themselves perhaps slipping out of the race for now, the Mets are riding high into July. This month, the Mets are 17-6, the best mark in the Majors, and just completed their sixth straight home series win.
In fact, as hard as it may seem, the Mets currently own a two-game lead in the NL Wild Card race. Usually, the Wild Card races remain tight because of the depth of teams competing, but right now, the Mets are a Wild Card by default.
Angel Pagan should be returning to tonight's starting lineup according to both him, and Jerry Manuel, coming back from muscle spasms he suffered during Wednesday's game against the Tigers.
The Mets have 13 games to play before the All-Star break, and can win 50 if they go at least 7-6, which is very doable, facing two lower-division ballclubs on this road trip against the Marlins and Nationals.
The final series in June starts tonight in San Juan as the Mets look to ride Dickey's knuckler to a win.
R.A. Dickey vs. Florida (June 4)
Win, 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 hits, 2 BB, 4 SO
Ricky Nolasco vs. New York this season (3 starts)
1-0, 4.00 ERA, 18 IP, 17 hits, 8 BB, 10 SO
2010 season series (New York vs. Florida)
April 5 : New York 7, Florida 1
April 7 : Florida 7, New York 6 (10)
April 8 : Florida 3, New York 1
May 13 : Florida 2, New York 1
May 14 : Florida 7, New York 2
May 15 : Florida 7, New York 5
May 16 : Florida 10, New York 8
June 4: New York 4, Florida 3
June 5: New York 6, Florida 1
June 6: New York 7, Florida 6
Marlins lead series 6-4