Mets morning briefing 6.14.12

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- R.A. Dickey ran his scoreless streak to a franchise-record 32 2/3 innings before David Wright's ninth-inning error, a pair of passed balls from Mike Nickeas and an RBI groundout ended the run. Dickey nonetheless passed previous record-holder Jerry Koosman (31 2/3 innings in 1973) as the Mets beat the Rays, 9-1, Wednesday at the Trop.

Dickey retired 22 straight batters at one point in claiming his 10th win, which is tied with St. Louis' Lance Lynn for the major league lead. The knuckleballer surrendered only one hit -- a groundball single in the first inning by B.J. Upton that Wright was unable to barehand. While acknowledging it was a long shot, Terry Collins said the club would appeal to Major League Baseball to have the scoring decision changed to an error on Wright. If successful, the franchise would have its second no-hitter of the month after going 8,019 games without one.

As for Dickey's feat:

He technically got to 10 wins before Lynn, whose game started an hour later. So the knuckleballer became only the second Met in MLB history to be the quickest in baseball to double-digit wins, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Tom Glavine on June 18, 2006 was the first in the majors to 10 wins that season.

Dickey became the first Met to have double-digit wins on June 13 since Bobby Jones was 11-2 on that date in 1997.

Dickey’s scoreless-inning streak is the longest in the majors since Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel tossed 37 2/3 scoreless innings from June 14-Sept. 8, 2011. It is the longest by a starting pitcher since Cliff Lee had a 34-inning scoreless streak from June 11-July 3, 2011.

Dickey had a career-high 12 strikeouts. He has now fanned 58 and walked four over his past six starts.

Dickey has won eight straight decisions. That's the longest streak by a Met since Johan Santana had 10 straight from July 9, 2008-April 6, 2009.

The Mets now go for the sweep of the Rays on Thursday afternoon as Santana (3-3, 2.96 ERA) opposes right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 2.65).

Thursday's news reports:

• Read game recaps in the Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger and Record.

• Columnist David Lennon in Newsday got reaction to Dickey's performance from the Rays. "You chalk it up and erase this from your mind, because you faced one of the toughest pitchers going right now," Carlos Peña told Lennon. "Usually when you see a curveball or see a slider, there's a hump and the slider is supposed to come this way, or there's a hump and it's slower or it's bigger. With this, you have no idea what the ball is going to do. If it goes up, you think, 'OK, it's going to come down.' But no, sometimes it would sail way up. Another one would go up and then it would dive straight down and hit the dirt. It's like a roller coaster. That was amazing. ... We would often laugh and try to keep ourselves as motivated as possible instead of getting down on ourselves and frustrated."

Tony La Russa named Collins to his NL staff for the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City. Collins actually was invited by La Russa back in spring training. The Mets skipper had participated in one other All-Star Game, in 1995 while managing the Houston Astros, on the NL staff of Montreal Expos manager Felipe Alou. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News poses this question, writing:

It makes for a delightful debate: Who should start the All-Star Game for the National League, R.A. Dickey or Stephen Strasburg? Or more to the point, would America rather see 98 mph fastballs or 78 mph knuckleballs? The high heat may be more breathtaking, but at the moment, nothing is more deadly than Dickey’s knuckler.

Matt Cain, by the way, is 8-2 with a 2.18 ERA after tossing the first perfect game in Giants franchise history late Wednesday night. He will merit consideration, too.

Justin Turner (ankle/foot) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Buffalo.

• Collins has labeled 41-year-old Miguel Batista as his primary setup man to Frank Francisco after shaking up roles this week. Batista is the second-oldest major leaguer at the moment, trailing only ex-Met Darren Oliver, who has 136 days on him. Writes Brian Costa in the Journal:

Most starters view a move to the bullpen as a demotion. And few relievers can be easily converted to starters. But in an era of bullpen specialization, Batista has made a career of constantly alternating roles. Over the past two decades, many pitchers have been better. But few have been both as flexible and as durable. Entering Wednesday, Batista had made 247 career starts and 393 relief appearances. Only four other pitchers in baseball history have made both as many starts and relief appearances, according to Stats LLC: Dennis Eckersley, Rick Honeycutt, Charlie Hough and Greg Swindell. Batista's reward for being malleable is simple: He's still here.

• Under-the-radar prospect Collin McHugh allowed only one run in 5 2/3 innings, but Binghamton was swept in a doubleheader with a 1-0 nightcap loss. Zack Wheeler pitches Thursday morning for the B-Mets. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

• With the Mets facing three right-handers this weekend at Citi Field and with the team done with the DH, Collins acknowledged Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda will be in the lineup against Cincinnati and Jason Bay, Andres Torres and Scott Hairston will have to share what available playing time remains. Bay did snap an 0-for-18 drought since returning from the DL on Wednesday. One thing is clear: Duda shifting to first base can no longer be seriously entertained, since Ike Davis appears to be heating up. Davis had a pair of hits and a walk against left-hander David Price in the 9-1 win. Read more in the Times.

• Santana makes his first start Thursday since a bad start in the Bronx that followed his no-hitter. Got it? “I admire anybody that throws a no-hitter and is able to throw well the next time out,” pitching coach Dan Warthen told Mike Puma in the Post. “Because, outside of good stuff, preparation and focus is the No. 1 thing for any pitcher, and Johan didn’t have five minutes to himself. As much as he tried to prepare [for the Yankees] I don’t think he was mentally focused the way Johan generally is.”

• With Stony Brook headed to the College World Series, Greg Logan in Newsday chats with Omar Quintanilla (Texas), Dickey (Tennessee) and Davis (Arizona State) about their experiences in Omaha.

TRIVIA: When/where was the Mets' last series sweep in an American League ballpark?

Wednesday's answer: Davis has homered against left-handers Cole Hamels, Mark Buehrle and J.P. Howell this season.