The Rays' only hit in Wednesday's 9-1 Mets victory came in the first inning, when third baseman David Wright unsuccessfully attempted to barehand B.J. Upton's slow roller down the line. Within seconds, Tropicana Field's official scorer ruled it a hit.
Dickey set down the next 22 batters, keeping the Rays off the basepaths until Wright committed an actual error in the ninth. The knuckleballer struck out 12 and did not walk a batter, running his record to 10-1 with a 2.20 ERA.
After the game, Mets vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz suggested to manager Terry Collins that the Mets appeal the play. Assistant general manager John Ricco filed the appropriate paperwork to league offices in New York, where MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre reviewed it.
"David normally makes that play," Collins said. "Once in a while, you don't. And if it was his decision that he had to barehand it, then he's making the right play, because he knows how to play third. It was just, hey look, we had a shot at a no-hitter. My pitcher's never had a no-hitter. So you throw your hand up and you give it a shot.
"What the heck did we have to lose?"
The Mets went more than 50 years and 8,000 games without a no-hitter before Santana submitted his historic outing two weeks ago. Twelve days later, Dickey came close to duplicating the feat, though he admitted that a successful appeal would have resulted in "an asterisk bigger than the no-hitter itself." Pitching in the later innings, Dickey said, would have felt entirely different with the pressure of a potential no-no on his shoulders.
Before Torre's ruling, Collins estimated the chances of a successful appeal at less than five percent.
Though Wright admittedly felt bad that Dickey might have lost a no-hitter because of his defensive play, he stressed the difficulty of the play in question. Collins also went out of his way to defend his third baseman, considering the awkwardness of the situation -- petitioning the league to give one of his most popular players an error.
"It's a very difficult play, and I feel terrible that that's the one hit," Wright said. "But I did what I can do. There's not much more than I could do than that."
In effect, by appealing to the league, the Mets did everything they could.
"We didn't win it," Collins said. "We didn't expect to win it. We just gave it a try. And if we had won it, we'd have had another no-hitter. We wouldn't have had to wait another 50 years."