It seems the knuckleball does not do well in the humid air of a summer night in San Juan.
R.A. Dickey had his first bad outing since joining the team last month and gave up five runs en route to a 10-3 loss to the Marlins. The law of averages said that such an outing was inevitable even as your heart told you to believe that things would go differently for the 35-year-old knuckleballer. He's missing a ligament in his elbow, he brings his own glove for his catchers and he has no problem citing his favorite Greek myths.
On top of all of that, Dickey is the poster child for the unexpected joys that this Mets season has provided. Dickey is here because of injuries to John Maine and Oliver Perez just as Ike Davis is here because of an injury to Daniel Murphy. The way that something nominally negative, like an injury, has blossomed into something positive has been enjoyable as has the fact that Dickey is both a better pitcher and infinitely more interesting thant he guys he's replaced.
You want to root for a guy like that and you want to believe that he'll never have a bad night. If he is going to have a bad night, though, it might as well have been Monday night because it was kind of a weird game all around.
San Juan was buzzing in a way that made it seem more like a World Cup match than a Major League Baseball game. There was live music played on top of the dugouts, unusual sound effects over the public address system and they were playing on an artificial turf field that looked like something out of 1977, a mix that made it seem more like an exhibition game than one that actually counted in the standings. That the Marlins are managed currently by Edwin Rodriguez, the first manager ever from the island, seemed to juice up the proceedings that much more.
If any of that sounds like a negative comment on the game, please don't take it that way. It was a lot of fun to watch, certainly a lot more fun to watch than the usual three-quarters empty affair from Miami. It's just that both teams seemed a bit dazed by the whole thing for a couple of innings and that the Mets never really shook it off. The bullpen imploded after Dickey departed and the final innings wound up feeling like the tail end of a Grapefruit League game where everyone is just trying to get their work in before hitting the showers.
So a strange night all around and, at the very least, Dickey could take solace in a well made pina colada once he got back to the hotel.