First Pitch: The Rx against R.A.
June, 24, 2012
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com
Mark Teixeira calls R.A. Dickey's back-to-back one-hitters "almost unimaginable."
"When it is on, it is almost an unhittable pitch," Teixeira said.
The Yankees' approach against Dickey will be to force him to throw the knuckleball up. If it is down and floating around like a Wiffle ball, it is nearly impossible to hit. If the Yankees can be selective enough and Dickey is a little off, the pitch can appear like it is on a tee.
Dickey (11-1, 2.00 ERA) has kept the pitch down all year, and success has followed.
The Yankee who has had the most success against Dickey is Raul Ibanez. He is a .320 hitter in 25-at-bats against him, with three homers. Ibanez, who was teammates with Dickey in Seattle, said that Dickey's knuckler is different than Tom Candiotti's or Tim Wakefield's.
"They are all different," Ibanez said. "Candiotti's was a little harder than Wakefield's. Wakefield's was softer. And Dickey's is harder than both of theirs. He actually throws them harder and he varies his speeds more on his knuckleball."
Dickey throws his fastball in the mid-80s, which give him a little more variety than your average knuckleballer.
Since Dickey throws harder and mixes in his fastball more, Teixeira will bat left-handed on Sunday night. Against the softer-tossing Wakefield, Teixeira always hit right-handed. Fenway Park factored into Teixeira's choice to hit right-handed against Wakefield.
"If you hit a decent fly ball there, an average fly ball, it is a double or a home run," Teixeira said. "Then I just became more comfortable hitting against Wakefield right-handed."
Teixeira said it is an "old wives' tale" that the knuckleball messes you up for days. During the game, he said it could impact your timing if a knuckler is followed by a reliever clocking in at 97 mph.
"You may have to adjust your timing," Teixiera said.
Nick Swisher, the other Yankees switch hitter, will also bat lefty -- but his decision is solely based on the ballpark. He considers Citi Field a fair ballpark, so he is batting lefty because he has more pop from that side. If he were facing Dickey at a place like Fenway, Swisher said he would hit righty.
UP NOW: My column on the Yankees winning by going deep.
ON DECK: At 10:15, oh yeah, CC Sabathia is starting tonight, too. Mike Mazzeo looks ahead to Sabathia's night, and his chance to bat against a knuckleballer. At 11:45, Katie Sharp brings you the latest edition of What2Watch4. Mark Simon is doing one on the Mets' blog as well. We will be on the blog all day.
IN THE HOLE: Wallace Matthews will be out at Citi Field, joined by Ian O'Connor, Johnette Howard and Matt Ehalt.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: How many hits and runs will the Yankees score off of Dickey?