This time, he’ll have to stop them.
The knuckleballer will try to shut down baseball’s best offense on Thursday as the Rangers and Dickey’s Seattle Mariners wrap up their four-game series.
Dickey (2-6, 4.62 ERA) pitched in Texas in 2001 and from 2003-2006, and in that time the Rangers always had an offense that was among the top 10 in the major leagues in runs.
Texas, however, never had the top offense during Dickey’s tenure, but it does this season—by a large margin. The Rangers have scored 605 runs - 36 more than the second-place Chicago Cubs, and 59 more than the closest AL club, the Detroit Tigers.
Josh Hamilton has been the biggest reason for the Rangers’ offensive success. The center fielder is hitting .304 with 25 homers and a major league-leading 104 RBIs. He hit his 25th homer Wednesday as Texas won 4-3, giving the Rangers a chance to win three of four in this series.
Hamilton made his first All-Star team in 2008, but it was one of the Rangers’ other three All-Stars that drove in the winning run Wednesday. Michael Young, who’s been limited recently by a broken ring finger, came off the bench to hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning that proved to be the difference.
“I haven’t really been in that situation,” said Young, who hadn’t pinch hit since 2002. “I was pretty jacked up. I made the effort to take some deep breaths to calm down some.”
Young has been a regular with the Rangers since 2001, the same year Dickey came up. Now, the knuckleballer will be trying to get Young and other former teammates out for the first time in the regular season.
“It’s sort of like I will be pitching back home,” Dickey told the Mariners’ official Web site. “I faced them twice in spring training. But this will be different. They are a good club, and run four All-Stars (Hamilton, Young, Milton Bradley and Ian Kinsler) in a row at you.”
Dickey is coming off one of his worst starts of the season, when he gave up eight runs and 10 hits over 5 1-3 innings on Saturday at Toronto as the Mariners (40-67) lost 8-3.
It’ll be close to 100 degrees in Arlington on Thursday, but Dickey prefers that to the situation he faced in Toronto.
“(That game) had some of the worst conditions I’ve had all year,” Dickey said. “The roof was closed and the air was really stagnant. A knuckler is better when there is some amount of climate.”
Texas will counter with rookie Matt Harrison (2-1, 7.32), who’s struggled in the first four starts of his major league career. But after giving up eight runs over five innings in a loss at Minnesota on July 19, Harrison picked up his second win on Saturday. He allowed three runs - one earned - in five innings in Texas’ 9-4 win at Oakland.
“That one felt pretty good,” Harrison told the Rangers’ official Web site. “I could have gotten ahead of hitters more and kept my pitch count down, but the ball was coming out of my hand a lot better today than before.”