TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' rotation has been a major strength all season, and it has the potential to be even better with a consistent final stretch from R.A. Dickey.
The 41-year-old knuckleballer continued his solid August with 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball on Tuesday, helping the Blue Jays open a critical six-game homestand with a 7-2 victory over the Angels.
Dickey has quietly pieced together one of his best statistical months of the season in the heart of the Blue Jays' chase towards a second consecutive playoff berth.
Often criticized for his penchant for giving up home runs, the third-inning blast Dickey surrendered to Angels rookie Nick Buss was just the first long ball he'd allowed all month. Dickey has also limited opponents to two runs or fewer in three of his four August starts, after allowing 18 runs in his final three starts of July.
"It's all about the process and trying to execute the mechanics I need to in order to produce good results," Dickey said. "All I can focus on is execution and process, and tonight the result was favorable, but I've been pretty close all year in a number of outings, I just haven't had the same results."
Formerly a conventional right-handed pitcher before converting to a knuckleballer, Dickey also praised his traditional pitches as being a key on Tuesday night. The Nashville, Tenn., native relied on his fastball to change speeds and throw off the Angels' timing, especially early in the game.
"I had good conventional stuff tonight, and that helped me through innings where I had an OK knuckleball," Dickey said. "I had a mediocre knuckleball tonight, so I was able to use the other stuff."
Dickey held the heart of the Angels' order in check, with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols each going hitless against the former Cy Young Award winner. Pujols, who is hitless in 13 career at-bats against Dickey, has been competing against the knuckleballer since the two of them broke into the Majors as rookies in 2001. The future Hall of Fame slugger shared a special moment by tipping his cap towards Dickey at the start of his first at-bat.
"I think that's more a show of respect," Dickey said. "It's hard to stay in this game as long as he has, and to kind of come up alongside of him from 2001 until now, I think that was just a little tip of respect, and I really appreciated it."