Dickey's tough day ends early in Red Sox rout
Knuckleballer exits in fifth as Boston belts six homers in finale
TORONTO -- R.A. Dickey's first week in a Blue Jays uniform has turned into one he would like to forget.
Toronto's No. 1 starter followed up an Opening Night loss with one of his worst outings in recent memory Sunday. The knuckleball wasn't dancing like it normally does, and the end result was a series of balls leaving the yard.
Dickey surrendered eight runs, while Boston's Will Middlebrooks enjoyed a career day at the plate, with three home runs in the Blue Jays' 13-0 loss in front of 41,168 at Rogers Centre.
"You certainly try to forget about it as soon as you can," said Dickey, who surrendered two of Middlebrooks' homers. "Throughout the course of the season, you're going to have a clunker or two that you have to try to forget as soon as you can."
The Blue Jays lost control of Sunday afternoon's game before some fans even made it to their seats. Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double, and Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia followed with a pair of singles. Mike Napoli then delivered a two-run double, which was immediately followed by a two-run homer off the bat of Middlebrooks.
Five batters into the game, it was 5-0 Boston, but the damage didn't stop there. Dickey allowed three more runs before giving way to the bullpen in the fifth inning.
It's not the way Dickey envisioned starting his tenure in Toronto, but he's also aware it's still way too early for alarm bells to go off. Even during last year's Cy Young Award-winning season, Dickey began the year with a 4.45 ERA in April before posting a 2.48 ERA the rest of the way.
"Probably a little bit too much rotation, they hit a couple of good pitches," Dickey said of his knuckleball. "Sometimes you have to look at the overall scope of the game and determine did you just get baseballed, or did you just not execute? And I think today was a bit of both for me.
"I think I didn't execute on a couple of pitches that I could have executed much better, and there were a couple of balls that might have gotten through that maybe on another day you field, get an out, and it's a different inning."
Dickey's outing was comparable to a start he had at the beginning of 2012. During an April 18 start for the Mets, the Braves got to Dickey for eight runs on eight hits. He walked three and surrendered three homers.
The native of Nashville moved on from that performance, and the hope is that he will be able to do so again.
Dickey watched some video after being removed from the game and pinpointed a couple of areas for improvement. He wants to start changing speeds more and also feels like he needs to stay back on the rubber longer during his delivery.
"You have to draw on your past experiences," Dickey said. "Atlanta last year was maybe even a click worse than this one. You have to understand that with 33 starts, you have a handful that you just have to throw out, and hopefully the majority of them end up the way you want them to.
"I'm certainly believing in that and feel like that's going to be the case, but you have to learn from it, too. You have to have aptitude in this game, and there are some things I can get better at that I've identified on some video after the game, and we'll see what happens."
Right-hander Dave Bush's outing wasn't much of an improvement over Dickey. He allowed five runs on five hits while walking one in his first big league appearance since 2011. In total, the Red Sox recorded six home runs and four off Bush -- one each from Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava, Napoli and Ellsbury.
The same type of production wasn't enjoyed by the Blue Jays' offense. Boston's Jon Lester was dominant, allowing five hits while striking out six and not walking a batter in seven strong innings.
It's the first time this season the Blue Jays have been shut out, but the struggles mark a continuation of their offense being either feast or famine. Of the 22 runs scored by Toronto this season, all but four have come via the home run.
The loss is a bitter end to a series that many Blue Jays fans had been waiting months for. Approximately 130,000 walked through the Rogers Centre gates during the series that saw Boston manager John Farrell make his return. The boos were loud and frequent, but Farrell's team took two out of three.
"It was a good series, we were looking forward to coming up here," Farrell said. "Much has been made about the changes they've gone through. They've added a lot of good players. It was a good challenge for us, a good test for us, and I liked the way we played in this three-game set."
Toronto will have a much-needed off-day Monday and hope to have Jose Bautista back in its lineup when the next series opens on Tuesday in Detroit.
The 2-4 start to the season isn't ideal, but with 158 games remaining, it's not like people inside the Blue Jays clubhouse are about to start panicking.
"We're fine, we'll stick together as a group, it's not like we're not together or anything like that," shortstop Jose Reyes said. "Just a 2-4 start, it's going to happen. This is baseball, there's a lot of baseball left.
"It's not how you start, it's how you finish. We have a lot of confidence in this ballclub, and like I said, we're going to be fine. So there's nothing to worry about."