From his seat for the Mets' 7,996th game in team history, manager Terry Collins watched the baseball butterfly to the plate. While R.A. Dickey made it dance, Collins thought the dream might happen on this nice, cool Sunday in Flushing.
"The way that game started today, I actually thought, 'This might be the day," Collin said after the Mets' 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks. "This might be the day because they were not getting good swings. When they did hit it, it was ground balls."
Dickey didn't come close to a no-hitter. After retiring the first 10 batters, a bloop double moved the Mets one day closer to Friday's date with 8,000 games and no-no hitters. Still, Dickey's eight innings of one-run, four-hit ball was a knuckleball showcase, even if Dickey felt annoyed he didn't finish the game.
Dickey (4-1, 3.76 ERA) pitched eight scoreless innings and barely had to deal with any trouble. There were runners in scoring position in the fourth and the sixth, but Dickey vanquished the Diamondbacks. After eight, Collins checked in with Dickey.
"He came in after the eighth and I said, 'How are you doing?' He said, 'I'm going to finish,'" Collins said. "He deserved the chance to go back out there."
To leadoff the ninth, Dickey walked Gerardo Parra. Justin Upton followed with an RBI double. Collins came to get Dickey, who slammed down the rosin bag. Dickey was mad at himself, not his manager. He walked off to a standing ovation.
Protecting a two-run lead and with a man on, Tim Byrdak entered and nearly gave up the lead as Jason Kubel went the opposite way and drove Kirk Nieuwenhuis's back to the wall before making the catch. Next, Frank Francisco struck out Paul Goldschmidt before Miguel Montero flew out to deep right.
Even after the game, he wasn't fully relishing his performance.
"About 45 miles into our bus ride to Philly, I'll probably let up a little bit," Dickey said. "It leaves a sour taste in my mouth because I know I have an expectation of myself in that situation and that is not it. When I don't meet that expectation, it is tough to swallow."
Still, Dickey had another really strong outing. One that his manager thought could be historic, even if it didn't get very far.
"I try to throw a no-hitter every time out," Dickey said. "But when organically it happens, after the sixth inning, that is when it starts creeping in."
The magic was gone in the fourth on Sunday, but Dickey made it look easy, even if he didn't finish off the job.