OAKLAND -- R.A. Dickey surrenders a lot of home runs, and that will probably never change. For the most part, though, the veteran knuckleballer has been able to limit the damage. That did not happen Saturday afternoon, however, at Oakland Coliseum.
Dickey surrendered three home runs, including a three-run shot to A's rookie Ryon Healy during Toronto's 5-4 loss. The 41-year-old righty allowed just five hits, but with the ball carrying well on a sunny afternoon, it was enough for the A's.
Dickey has served up 109 home runs since the start of 2013, which is the most in baseball over that span. This year he has allowed 22 dingers, but 18 of those have been solo shots. He had not surrendered a three-run shot in 2016 until Saturday, when Healy's shot was the big blow.
"The ball was flying," Dickey said. "If you got the ball up in the air today, it was going to go. So, unfortunately, I left one up, but that's the first slow knuckleball I've thrown in four years that has gotten hit out, so I thought it was a safe pitch. I just kind of timed [Healy] up."
Oakland's first blast of the afternoon came in the second inning, when Khris Davis led off with a solo shot to left-center field. Dickey then allowed a single to Stephen Vogt and walked Marcus Semien to put a pair of runners on base for Healy's shot to left.
Dickey settled down after that and at one point retired 11 consecutive batters before the sixth, when he surrendered another solo shot to Davis. It was the 11th time in Dickey's career and the second time this season he allowed at least three home runs in the same game.
The outing was a disappointment, but it's also an outlier compared to the way Dickey has been pitching since the beginning of May. Dickey entered play on Saturday with a 3.10 ERA since May 2, and one bad outing will not spoil what has been an otherwise strong run by the native of Tennessee.
"I was just trying to find the speed where it was moving the most, and it was harder speeds today," Dickey said. "I had a pretty clean first inning, felt good and tried to take that into the second inning, but realized I needed to probably put a little bit more velocity on it when I started doing that. Unfortunately, it happened so quickly, that inning got away from me just a bit. Then I felt good, I felt good all day really."
Toronto has now lost its first two games after the All-Star break. The starting rotation has been a major strength for this team all year, but that has not been the case during the first part of the Oakland series. Right-hander Marcus Stroman allowed seven runs on Friday night and Dickey followed that up with five of his own.
It's not the way the Blue Jays wanted to start the second half, but it's also not time to become overly concerned. Two games are two games.
"It's a strange thing, but we've been playing well," said Dickey, whose record dropped to 7-10 with a 4.11 ERA. "We just kind of hit a snag here. Our starting pitching is kind of limping out of the break here, me and Stro. But that's only one little turn through the rotation. We'll be there when it matters."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.