When R.A. Dickey changed his pitching schedule to get the ball in the Mets' home finale, he hoped he'd be in line to try to secure his 20th win.
After beating the Marlins on Saturday, Dickey is going to have that opportunity.
The knuckleballer secured his 19th win with eight-plus innings of work in a 4-3 win over the Marlins, and will try to become the first Mets pitcher since 1990 to record 20 wins when he faces Pittsburgh on Thursday. He is also in line to start a game during the final series of the year in Miami.
"These fans have been so loyal for me all year, and what a neat thing to get to share with them on that day. But you had to win today and they showed up today," Dickey said after improving to 19-6. "I don't know how many were there, but whoever was here it was pretty loud, it was nice and I certainly felt appreciated. And that's always nice."
It helped Dickey in his quest for 20 win that he was able to match up with the Marlins, who cannot figure out the knuckleball and are a key reason why the veteran is a Cy Young contender. He is now a sizzling 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA against Miami.
That's not to say this win came easily. Miami had some tough at-bats against Dickey, despite getting to him in the ninth inning. He was tired after seven innings and thought the eighth would be his last, but he breezed through the frame, opening the door for the ninth as the Mets led 4-0.
A leadoff walk and a double chased him from the game, and those runs eventually came around to score on John Buck's three-run shot off Jon Rauch. Thankfully for Dickey, Rauch stranded the tying run at second.
"There's not a guy in that room that's not rooting for R.A.," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We gotta figure out a way to score some runs on Thursday for him, because I think our fans deserve to see him win 20. Certainly, our club needs it. The organization should be very proud of the fact that they stuck with this guy."
Collins compared the atmosphere during the game to that of a no-hitter, in which each player will give up his body to help the cause. When broaching that subject, Dickey said he'd take winning 20 games in a season over tossing a no-hitter.
He'll have two chances to nab No. 20 -- starting Thursday in front of a home crowd.
"It is hard. You would see a lot of 20-game winners out there if it wasn't hard. And a lot of things have to go your way, and I'll be the first to say it," Dickey said of the battle to get 20 wins. "I try to go out there and be consistent and that's all I try to do. I try to give my team a chance to win every time out, and this has been the product of that this year.
"Last year, I was 8-13. I didn't change my perspective, change my mentality. It's just the way things have ended up this year, but it's fun."