Knuckleballer accomplishes feat in 100th start since joining Blue Jays
By Jamie Ross
TORONTO -- R.A. Dickey and Josh Thole normally shake hands after a Blue Jays victory when the knuckleballer is on the mound. On Friday, even though Thole didn't appear in the game, they hugged. Dickey scored a milestone victory, his 100th, in his 100th start with the Blue Jays during a 5-3 win over the Rays at Rogers Centre.
The occasion was extra special for the Dickey-Thole battery, which has been paired together 133 times at the big league level. Although their run together came to an end earlier this month when Russell Martin resumed catching Dickey, the win clearly meant a lot to Thole, who's been Dickey's personal catcher for parts of six seasons.
"One-hundred wins over a career is pretty special, especially given what he's been through over his career," said Thole, who has caught Dickey's knuckleball for 862 1/3 innings in the Majors.
Dickey was emotional as he described his feat, which came on the same night Josh Donaldson hit his 40th home run of the season. He was especially grateful for Thole's contributions over the course of his career, which covers stints with the Mets and Blue Jays.
"Josh has a caught a lot of my wins, so that was a big deal to get to give him a pat on the back," Dickey said. "There have been countless people that have made an impact on my life. I'm not a self-made man. I'm a product of a lot of people who've loved me well. Tonight was the night to celebrate that a little bit."
The win continues Dickey's stellar streak in the second half. The 40-year-old improved to 8-1 since the All-Star break, recording his first win over the Rays in five attempts this season. He allowed two earned runs or fewer for the fourth time in five starts, and he didn't walk a batter for the fourth time this year as the Blue Jays inched closer to realizing their first postseason berth since 1993. They lead the American League East by four games over the Yankees.
While the math shows Toronto is in the playoffs, it can bust out the champagne with a win.
Based on the standings, the Blue Jays can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Rays or an Angels loss to Seattle. But based on the remaining schedules for the Halos, Astros and Rangers, only two of the three AL West contenders can finish 88-74. (The Angels and Texas currently have 74 losses, the same as Toronto.) If that result were to happen, one AL West team would win the division, another would win an AL Wild Card spot, and the third would be eliminated with at least 75 losses. Toronto is thus guaranteed of at least an AL Wild Card berth.
For Dickey, the century mark was extra important considering it came in the midst of the team's run and a difficult season for him in his personal life.
"It's been a tough year for me, losing my dad," said Dickey. "To celebrate this at home, in my 100th start for the Blue Jays, is really poetic."
The run that Dickey finds himself on couldn't be timed better for the Blue Jays.
"First and foremost to me is keeping the gas pedal down," Dickey said.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.