R.A. Dickey has a chance to become the first New York Met to surpass 20 wins in 27 years, and his performances against the Miami Marlins have helped put him in that position.
The knuckleballer will also try to bolster his NL Cy Young Award hopes by continuing his mastery of the Marlins, who are expected to give Adam Greenberg a long-awaited major league at-bat Tuesday night.
Until this year, the 37-year-old Dickey had never won more than 11 games and was 41-50 over nine seasons. He even began 2010 with New York's minor league affiliate in Buffalo.
"My sole concern again is just to try to put up a good outing," Dickey told the team's official website. "And at the end, you hope that your statistics speak loudly enough that you're in the ( Cy Young ) race."
Dickey is also seeking to become the first knuckleballer with at least 21 wins since Atlanta's Phil Niekro and Houston's Joe Niekro both did so in 1979, and the first pitcher for a sub-.500 team since Roger Clemens went 21-7 for Toronto in 1997.
A start against the Marlins (68-92) would appear to give Dickey a prime opportunity to accomplish all those goals. He's 8-0 with a 0.92 ERA over his last eight matchups and has five wins versus Miami this season.
Gooden is the only Met to win nine consecutive starts against one team, the Chicago Cubs from Sept. 8, 1988-May 21, 1991.
During his final chance to make his case for the Cy Young , Dickey is not expected to give the Marlins an easy time, even to Greenberg. The 31-year-old is slated to sign a one-day contract so he can finally get an official at-bat in the majors.
Greenberg was hit in the head by the Marlins' Valerio De Los Santos during his only plate appearance for the Cubs on July 9, 2005. He was subsequently plagued by vertigo and never made it past Double-A after signing minor league contracts with the two Los Angeles teams and Kansas City.
"Life's going to throw you curveballs - or fastballs in the back of your head," Greenberg said. "I got hit by one of them. And it knocked me down and I could have stayed there. I had a choice ... and I chose to get up and get back in the box."
Dickey, however, is not getting caught up in the feel-good story.
"He's a big leaguer," Dickey said. "I'm going to treat him like a big leaguer."
Miami manager Ozzie Guillen initially considered having Greenberg bat leadoff but is expected to give him a pinch-hit appearance in "the middle of the game." Guillen's club ended a seven-game skid to the Mets with a 3-2 victory Monday.
Greenberg might even get the chance to help Jacob Turner (1-4, 3.86) earn his third major league win. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.09 ERA since beating NL Central champion Cincinnati on Sept. 14, and one of those losses came in his only appearance against the Mets (73-87).
Turner gave up six runs - three earned - and eight hits over five innings during that 7-3 defeat Sept. 21.
|New York Mets|
|September 25, 2012||Robert Carson||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left triceps|
|September 12, 2012||Ronny Cedeno||Day-to-Day||Left game - tight right hamstring|
|September 07, 2012||Andres Torres||Day-to-Day||Left knee bruise|
|August 18, 2012||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|August 15, 2012||Rob Johnson||60-Day DL||Torn ligament, left thumb|
|August 02, 2012||Tim Byrdak||60-Day DL||Sore left shoulder|
|September 21, 2012||Justin Ruggiano||Day-to-Day||Sprained right shoulder|
|September 18, 2012||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|September 14, 2012||Carlos Lee||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained neck|
|September 04, 2012||Heath Bell||Day-to-Day||Sore left foot|
|August 22, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||60-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|August 13, 2012||Nick Green||15-Day DL||Sprained left thumb|
MIAMI (AP) -- New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey's best season yet ended with a no-decision and some surprising news: He'll have surgery Oct. 18.
After pitching six innings in a 4-3, 11-inning loss to the Miami Marlins , Dickey revealed he has pitched since mid-April with a strained muscle on the right side of his abdomen. Following the operation, Dickey said, he expects to be ready for the start of spring training.
"The pain can be fairly significant from time to time," he said. "It's part of this game, playing with aches and scrapes and bruises and tears. It happened early this year, but we were able to work through it."
Dickey struck out one-shot wonder Adam Greenberg but also gave up two homers in his final start of a Cy Young -hopeful season. He said the injury bothered him more than in earlier outings.
"I just felt we would keep trucking through," he said. "I guess the timing is fortuitous in that the significant pain I'm feeling now I hadn't felt before. But tonight it was hard to catch my breath sometimes. It's obvious it needs to be taken care of."
Greenberg fanned on three pitches when he batted for the first time in seven years in the sixth inning. He signed a one-day contract before the game, his first since he was beaned in his major league debut in 2005.
"I think the story far transcends the result of the at-bat," Dickey said. "It was important for me and him to treat him like a big-leaguer."
Dickey had beaten the Marlins in eight consecutive starts over the past two seasons, including five this year. He struck out eight to increase his NL-leading total to 230, and ended the season at 20-6 with an ERA of 2.73.
Donovan Solano hit a game-winning, bases-loaded one-out single off Collin McHugh (0-4).
Dickey left trailing 3-0, and manager Terry Collins said he could tell the injury
was a factor.
"It hasn't bothered him," Collins said. "Today he said it felt fine, then he aggravated it in the second inning. He said he still could go pitch.
"You could tell in the fifth he had a limp to his gait. He said, `I'll give you as much as I can give you."'
The Mets rallied with three runs in the eighth to tie the game. After Marlins rookie Jacob Turner allowed one run in 7 2-3 innings, beleaguered former All-Star Heath Bell helped blow their lead.
Jose Reyes tripled off McHugh to start the 11th. Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Lee were intentionally walked, and after Rob Brantly struck out, Solano grounded a single up the middle.
Solano struck out in his previous four at-bats.
New York scored three times after Bell entered the game with two out in the eighth. David Wright hit an RBI single, a wild pitch scored another run and Scott Hairston followed with an infield single to drive in the tying run.
Bell, who has come to symbolize the Marlins' disappointing season, then departed to jeers from the crowd.
With the score 3-all, the Mets' Andres Torres tripled in the ninth. But Jordany Valdespin and Ruben Tejada struck out against Steve Cishek . New York loaded the bases in the 10th before Josh Thole struck out against Ryan Webb to end the threat.
Gorkys Hernandez and Brantly each hit his third homer for Miami. Chad Gaudin (4-2), who had been scheduled to start the season finale Wednesday, pitched a perfect 11th inning.
Turner, one of the few bright spots for the underachieving Marlins, allowed only three hits and two walks and lowered his ERA to 3.38. He made seven starts after being acquired from Detroit in late July and is expected to contend for a spot in the rotation next year.
"He's throwing the ball well," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He's got a shot to make the ballclub next year."
Notes: Before the game, Marlins INF Nick Green was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. ... Dickey has given up 24 homers, the most on the Mets' staff. ... Marlins rookie Tom Koehler will make his first career start in Wednesday's season finale against Jeremy Hefner .