Pitching duel in New York

Yankees (41-28) at Mets (39-32), 8:10 p.m. EDT

CC Sabathia has been among the best pitchers in baseball for the majority of his 12-year career.

It’s a much newer development for 37-year-old R.A. Dickey.

Dickey looks to continue his stunning stretch for the New York Mets on Sunday night when he takes the mound against Sabathia and the New York Yankees in the finale of this year’s Subway Series.

Sabathia (9-3, 3.55 ERA) is a former Cy Young Award winner and a five-time All-Star, so being tied with four others for the most wins in the AL isn’t a surprise.

The fact that Dickey (11-1, 2.00) has the most wins in the majors and is tied with injured Atlanta starter Brandon Beachy for the lowest ERA is nothing short of shocking. He’s also among the leaders with 103 strikeouts, and his victory total has already tied his career high set in 2010, his first year with the Mets (39-33).

The right-handed knuckleballer has put together a staggering stretch of dominance while winning his last six starts, striking out 63 and walking five in 48 2-3 innings while holding opponents to a .131 average.

His last two outings were both one-hitters, making him the first pitcher to toss two in a row since Dave Stieb did it for Toronto in 1988.

“If you haven’t seen this guy, you should tune in,” manager Terry Collins said.

After striking out 12 in his one-hitter at Tampa Bay on June 13, Dickey topped that career-best mark by fanning 13 while allowing only Wilson Betemit’s single in the fifth inning of Monday’s 5-0 win over Baltimore.

He has not permitted an earned run in 42 2-3 innings, the second-longest such streak in club history behind Dwight Gooden’s 49-inning run in 1985.

“I’m going to leave it to you guys to explain it. I’m just going to try to be in the moment with it,” Dickey said.

“I don’t really feel much more confident than I did the last couple years,” he added. “I’ve always felt like I have a pretty good knuckleball. I worked hard to do that.”

Dickey has yet to face the Yankees (42-28) this year, but he went 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two starts against them in 2011.

He’ll try to help the Mets rebound from Saturday’s 4-3 loss after they wasted a three-run lead by allowing four runs on a pair of homers in the seventh inning. They jumped out to a five-run advantage in the first a day earlier before holding on for a 6-4 victory in the series opener.

The Yankees have still won 10 of the last 13 meetings, including four of five in 2012.

Sabathia is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in four career starts against the Mets, but hasn’t faced them since June 20, 2010. He won that day by throwing eight scoreless innings.

The left-hander has won four of his last five starts behind a 3.16 ERA, and he’s coming off a seven-hitter with 10 strikeouts in Monday’s 6-2 victory over Atlanta.

Manager Joe Girardi isn’t planning to make changes to his lineup ahead of facing the only knuckleballer in the majors.

“You can’t worry about that; you have to play the game,” Girardi told the Yankees’ official website. “I don’t think you really alter your lineup. If you see someone who has had a lot of success, you might put him in there thinking that they’ve been successful against knuckleballers.”

Raul Ibanez has been successful against Dickey, going 7 for 17 with two home runs in the matchup since Dickey joined the Mets. Ibanez hit a three-run homer Saturday, although he’s still batting .143 (7 for 49) in June.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.