R.A. Dickey tries to continue his amazing run this evening when the New York Mets close the 2012 edition of the Subway Series against the Yankees at Citi Field.
"For me, it's another game on the schedule," Dickey said. "I think that helps me put it in perspective. It's one of three games that we have to play in this series against a good team. I think it's been built up to some kind of crescendo, but I will attack it no differently."
Dickey has been magnificent for the Mets this season and on Monday became the first major leaguer to throw five straight games with no earned runs and at least eight strikeouts in each, while becoming the third pitcher since 1945 to hurl back-to-back one-hitters, joining Sam McDowell (1966) and Dave Stieb (1988).
After holding the Tampa Bay Rays to just one hit on June 13, the 37-year-old knuckelballer allowed one hit and struck out a career-high 13 to beat the Baltimore Orioles on Monday to win his sixth straight start, ninth consecutive decision and improved to 11-1 on the year, while lowering his ERA to 2.00.
Dickey is also the first NL pitcher to toss consecutive one hitters since the Boston Braves' Jim Tobin in 1944.
"I'm going to leave it to you guys to explain it," Dickey said. "I'm just going to try to be in the moment with it. I don't really feel much more confident than I did the last couple years. I've always felt like I have a pretty good knuckleball. I worked hard to do that."
Over his last six starts Dickey has pitched to a 0.18 ERA and is 42 2/3 straight innings without allowing an earned run are the most by a Mets pitcher since Dwight Gooden went 49 innings without giving up one in 1985.
"A lot of people haven't seen R.A. Dickey do what he's doing right now," Mets manager Terry Collins said on Saturday. "I just hope tomorrow night he's as effective as he has been, because it'll be fun to watch for the person that's heard about him but never seen him pitch."
Dickey has faced the Yankees nine times (3 starts) and is 3-1 against them with a 2.30 ERA.
Lost in the shuffle on Sunday may be lefty CC Sabathia, who will oppose Dickey, trying to win his third straight start. Sabathia went the distance to defeat the Atlanta Braves on Monday, holding them to a pair of runs and seven hits. He also struck out 10 and ran his record to 9-3, while lowering his ERA to 3.55.
Sabathia is 3-1 in four starts versus the Mets with a 2.25 ERA.
The big left-hander, who is a career .245 hitter, is also looking forward to taking some swings against Dickey's knuckleball.
"I'm sure his knuckleball is a little better than my cousin's Wiffle Ball in the backyard," Sabathia said. "We'll see."
The Yankees evened this series at a game apiece on Saturday, as Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez homered in a four-run seventh inning to propel the Bronx Bombers to a 4-3 win.
Ibanez hit a three-run homer off Mets starter Chris Young to tie the game and Chavez added a go-ahead solo blast two batters later off Jon Rauch (3-7).
"It was a big win for us," said Chavez. "We had lost three games in a row and R.A.'s throwing tomorrow, so we really needed to pull this one out."
Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered for the Mets in the loss, but their four-game winning streak came to an end.
David Wright extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single off Rafael Soriano in the ninth inning and Daniel Murphy hit a long fly ball to right with two outs, but it was caught to end the game and give Soriano his 14th save.
The Yankees are 8-3 against the Mets since the start of 2011.