ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—R.A. Dickey thought his knuckleball was working really well while warming up in the bullpen before the game.
The Detroit Tigers hit six homers against Dickey, tying the post-1900 major league record in a 10-6 victory Thursday night.
“When you let go of the ball, you’re at the mercy of the way the ball is going to move,” said Dickey, who only converted to the pitch last season. “It was moving right into their bats.”
Five of the homers were solo shots. The only major league pitcher to give up more homers was Charlie Sweeney of the St. Louis Maroons, who allowed seven to the Detroit Wolverines in an American Association game on June 12, 1886.
“Something like that probably won’t happen again for a long, long time,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “It’s just one of those freak things. They hit it, got it up in the air, the ball was carrying and they popped it on the good part of the bat.”
Dickey (0-1) gave up eight hits and seven runs.
“If you look for positives, some of the homers were solos, but I’m really reaching,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said.
After Inge started the power surge, Ordonez hit another homer in the first.
Shelton homered leading off the second inning and went deep again in the fourth, raising his season total to four. Craig Monroe and Marcus Thames hit back-to-back drives later that inning, and Showalter finally pulled Dickey with Texas trailing 7-0.
“It wasn’t doing what he wanted,” Inge said. “The ones that did were up, over the plate.”
It was the sixth time a big league pitcher has given up six homers, the fourth time in the AL. The previous pitcher to do it was Boston’s Tim Wakefield — another knuckleballer—against Detroit on Aug. 8, 2004. Wakefield ended up winning that game, beating Nate Robertson.
This time, Robertson (1-0) did a lot better job with his run support.
“If I had that every time out, I’d go 32-, 33-0,” said Robertson, who allowed three runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings, striking out four.
The Rangers record for homers allowed by a pitcher had been five.
Ordonez also homered against Brian Shouse in the ninth. The seven homers allowed was another record for Texas.
Showalter wouldn’t commit to keeping Dickey in the Rangers’ rotation, but seemed to be leaning that way.
“Knuckleball guys are going to have their ups and downs,” Showalter said. “This was a down for R.A., who’s had some good ones for us. We’ll sit down and talk about it.”
Catcher Rod Barajas noted that more than two-thirds of Dickey’s pitches were strikes.
“He got ahead of the hitters quite a bit,” Barajas said. “I think we’re going to have to start throwing the knuckleball a little bit off the plate and make these guys chase it.”
Leyland loaded his lineup with right-handed batters because he has observed they usually have greater success than left-handers do against right-handed knuckleballers. Switch-hitters Dmitri Young and Carlos Guillen batted right-handed. Thames replaced the lefty-hitting Curtis Granderson, with Monroe shifting from left to center field.
Mark DeRosa, who started at third base for Texas, left during the fourth inning because of a lower left leg strain. He was to be re-evaluated. Hank Blalock replaced DeRosa. … The Tigers presented their scout of the year award to Tim Grieve, the son of Rangers broadcaster and former general manager Tom Grieve. Among the players the younger Grieve signed is RHP Jordan Tata, who made his major league debut in relief. … Rangers LHP Fabio Castro also made his debut.