It will be interesting to see how the homer-happy Yankees hit against the knuckleball belonging to the hottest pitcher in baseball. The Mets’ R.A. Dickey comes into the Subway Series finale tonight with his streak of two straight one-hitters. He’s 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA.
The 37-year-old righty owns a 0.18 ERA over his last six starts, fanning 63 and walking just five across 48 2/3 innings. He hasn’t allowed an earned run the last 42 2/3, just 6 1/3 shy of Dwight Gooden’s franchise record. Dickey has fanned 25 over his last two starts. He’s 6-0 with a 1.20 ERA in seven starts at Citi Field.
So what’s the strategy for the Yankees in their bid to hit that knuckler? Aim for the high ones.
“It has to be up,” Mark Teixeira said. “Whether it dances left or right, it’s going to be down most of the time at the end. So you have to make it up in the zone.
“Maybe take a little bit more of an uppercut swing. Because if you try to take too level of a swing against something that’s going straight down at the end, it’s going to be tough to hit.”
The switch-hitting Teixeira does something different against Dickey than what he did against now-retired Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
“I hit righty almost always against Wakefield,” Teixeira said. “But he was a different pitcher. R.A. throws that knuckleball a lot harder. He can mix in his fastball. And I don’t have Fenway. That’s one of the other reasons I hit right-handed against Wakefield because you hit an average fly ball in Fenway, it’s a double or a home run. But against R.A., I’ve always batted left-handed.”
Teixeira can remember when Dickey wasn’t a knuckleballer. Once upon a time, they were teammates in Texas.
“I’m so happy for R.A.,” Teixeira said. “We were rookies together (in 2003). He was a conventional pitcher, fastball, curveball, slider, change. … I think he was in the middle of, ‘OK, do I need to get better or am I not going to have a spot?’ So … they had him work with Charlie Hough the whole offseason. R.A. was very dedicated to the knuckleball. That’s a big leap of faith. I mean, a guy whose entire life has been as a conventional pitcher, to start throwing a knuckleball, he might have been close to 30 at the time, that’s a tough thing to do. He took his lumps early on. Unfortunately he got designated by the Rangers, and he’s made an unbelievable comeback.”