ATLANTA -- Five days after saying he was embarrassed by how he had pitched in his first season with the Braves, R.A. Dickey delivered his finest start of the season, proving he can still have some fun with his knuckleball.Dickey certainly had reason to be pleased after he allowed just
ATLANTA -- Five days after saying he was embarrassed by how he had pitched in his first season with the Braves, R.A. Dickey delivered his finest start of the season, proving he can still have some fun with his knuckleball.
Dickey certainly had reason to be pleased after he allowed just one run on three hits and recorded a season-high eight strikeouts while leading the Braves to a 3-1 win over the Phillies at SunTrust Park on Thursday night.
"At the end of the night, I told [Braves manager Brian Snitker] this is more of what I feel you should expect from me," Dickey said. "I feel like we can build off this and create a little bit of momentum with it."
After issuing five walks for a second straight start on Saturday against the Reds, Dickey expressed his frustration, which was primarily aimed at his inconsistent command, and vowed to make necessary adjustments as quickly as possible. He exited this outing against the Phillies without issuing a walk for the first time in a 19-start span dating back to Aug. 2.
"When you're older, you expect a lot more out of yourself, because you've been able to do it so long, you feel you should be able to get back to it more quickly," Dickey said. "I've really been battling myself all year, and I've known I was capable of much more. Now this is one game. But I feel If I'm able to take what I did tonight and repeat that, then the next 22 starts are going to be pretty daggum good."
It didn't take Dickey long to indicate this start might be much different than many of the others he'd endured while constructing the 5.10 ERA he carried into Thursday. He worked a perfect first inning and pitched around Tommy Joseph's second-inning leadoff single and went on to retire 15 straight. The Phillies didn't score until Odubel Herrera doubled and crossed the plate on Maikel Franco's two-out single in the seventh.
"[The knuckleball] was moving all over the place and I've never seen it dance like that before," Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips said. "Today, he had that Bugs Bunny [pitch] going and it was everywhere. It was very nice, and he kept the ball down. He made one mistake today, but other than that he kept the ball in the park and we made plays behind him."
Dickey recorded a season-high 13 swinging strikes with his knuckleball and eight called strikes within the 14 fastballs he threw. He recorded a season-high nine called strikes with his fastball while throwing 28 of them against the Pirates on May 23.
"Even for a knuckleball guy, if the fastball command is there, then usually your mechanics are going to be right," Dickey said. "I haven't had that good of fastball command all year. There have been spurts and a few innings here and there, where I've felt it was on point and then it would leave me for a minute. Tonight, it was consistent all the way through the game and my mechanics were consistent."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.