The New York Mets haven't had a 20-game winner in 22 years, and it's been even longer since they've had a Cy Young Award winner.
R.A. Dickey is making a bid to end both lengthy droughts.
The right-handed knuckleballer looks to enter Mets' lore and get victory No. 20 in front of the home fans in Flushing on Thursday against the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates.
Dickey (19-6, 2.66 ERA) has been one of the few bright spots for New York (71-84) this year, and he's on the verge of becoming the team's first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990.
"Obviously, there's something that looks pretty about that number," Dickey told the team's official website. "I'm not going to pretend that it's not nice. But my whole mentality is geared around, 'How can I be consistent?' So I'm going to go out there and try to put up a quality start, just like I always do, and hopefully it will equal a win."
Dickey is also a contender for the NL Cy Young Award, which hasn't been won by a Met since Dwight Gooden in 1985.
Gooden is also the only Mets hurler to win the pitching Triple Crown, and Dickey has a chance to match that feat. He has the NL's lowest qualifying ERA, and ranks second to Washington's Gio Gonzalez in wins, while his 209 strikeouts are two behind Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw for the league lead.
Gonzalez is scheduled to start Thursday night at Philadelphia.
Reaching 20 wins would make Dickey the third Met to reach a significant milestone this year.
Johan Santana got the franchise's first no-hitter June 1, and David Wright became the Mets' all-time hits leader (1,420) in Wednesday's 6-0 win over the Pirates (76-79).
Both of those achievements were accomplished at Citi Field, and Dickey and the Mets altered the rotation so he had a chance to share No. 20 with the fans in the home season finale.
"I really hope for that," Dickey said. "That's one of the reasons I moved my start in the first place, was to try to share a milestone such as that with the fans here. So it would mean quite something. It may mean the most of things for me in this moment."
Dickey put on a show for Mets fans Saturday, tossing eight shutout innings before giving up two runs in the ninth and getting pulled without an out in a 4-3 win over Miami.
New York has won five of six at home, and is trying to take three of four in this set against Pittsburgh.
Wright is hitting .339 in his last 15 games against the Pirates, getting five hits with one homer and four RBIs so far in this series.
The six-time All-Star seems to be in position to continue feasting on Pittsburgh pitchers since he's 11 for 14 (.786) with three doubles and two homers off scheduled starter Kevin Correia.
Barring a sudden turnaround in the final seven games, Pittsburgh seems headed for a 20th straight losing season.
Despite dropping 19 of 25 to spiral out of playoff contention, Pirates president Frank Coonelly said that manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington will be back in 2013.
"Support's always good, absolutely," Hurdle said.
Unlike Dickey, Correia (11-10, 4.11) is going for a modest milestone as he attempts to match his career high in wins, set with San Diego in 2009 and equaled last year.
The veteran right-hander fell short of the mark Saturday, when he surrendered four runs and seven hits despite a season-high nine strikeouts in six innings of a 4-1 loss to Houston.
Correia is 2-3 with a 3.49 ERA in six career starts against the Mets.
- Pittsburgh Pirates