Originally written on The Daily Stache  |  Last updated 11/17/14

Gotham’s White Knight, R.A. Dickey

Coming off yet another extra inning loss, the Mets will send stopper R.A. Dickey to the mound tonight looking to stop a four-game skid against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field, where New York hasn’t won since July 7th. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. and the game can be seen on SNY or heard, as always, on WFAN 660AM.  Join the conversation on Twitter by following @dailystache or yours truly, @DevOnSports.

The Mets haven’t won since Dickey’s last start, last Thursday’s 9-5 victory in D.C. and the pitching matchup tonight is identical to that one as the Nats send Gio Gonzalez out to oppose Dickey. New York lit Gonzalez up last Thursday led by homers from David Wright and Ike Davis. They could use similar offensive production to break out of their funk tonight.

The Mets made a bunch of roster moves before today’s game. Pedro Beato and Lucas Duda were optioned to Triple-A Buffalo as the Mets selected the contracts of Manny Acosta and Matt Harvey from the Bisons. Both Acosta and Harvey had to be added to the 40man roster, putting it back at an even 40. Combine those moves with the injury suffered late in Monday’s game by Ruben Tejada (he’s day-to-day) and the Mets throw out a makeshift lineup on Tuesday against the lefthanded Gonzalez.

Mets Lineup:

Torres – Murphy – Wright – Hairston – Davis – Bay – Cedeno – Nickeas – Dickey

Small Sample Stache: Wright’s two homers against Gonzalez last week were two of only four he’s hit against lefties this season, while hitting 11 against righties. But Wright still mashes lefties. He’s got a .358/.470/.566 against them in 106 at-bats this season.

Nationals Lineup:

Lombardozzi – Harper – Zimmerman – Morse – LaRoche – Espinosa – Bernadina – Flores – Gonzalez

Small Sample Stache: Ryan Zimmerman is raking in the month of July, hitting .400 with an .853 slugging percentage, nine homers, 20 runs and 22 RBI.

Pitching Matchup:
NYM: R.A. Dickey (13-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 132 K) –  For his second straight start, R.A. Dickey will have to be a skid stopper for the Mets. Last Thursday afternoon against these same Nationals in D.C., R.A. was solid, allowing just four runs, three earned in 7.1 innings. He did allow 10 hits, but did enough to stay out of trouble, including walking just one batter and striking out five.

The start was Dickey’s best so far in July. Since then he has made one relief appearance, on Saturday at Citi Field when he got two outs in the ninth before allowing a single to James Loney and then a two-run bomb to left by Juan Uribe. It was just another tough outing in a tough month. After an incredible June, R.A. has allowed 15 earned runs in 20.1 innings this month (6.64 ERA) with 31 hits, four walks and just 16 K’s. Opponents are hitting .352 off Dickey in July. Still he could turn it around against the Nats, who don’t hit him particularly well. Of players in tonight’s lineup only Ryan Zimmerman (7-of-24) and Michael Morse (6-of-21) have more than two hits off Dickey. Bryce Harper is 0-for-7 against him and Danny Espinosa is 1-for-17.

WSH: Gio Gonzalez (12-5, 3.32 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 129 K) –  The Nationals acquired Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland Athletics last winter to bolster their starting staff and Gonzalez has certainly gotten that done, earning an All-Star nod with one of the most impressive first halves in all of baseball. But Gonzalez wasn’t so great in his only start this season against the Mets last Thursday.

Thanks in large part to the hot bat of David Wright, Gonzalez lasted only 3.1 innings against New York after allowing six runs on six hits. He also has some control issues, walking three. Gonzalez has been known throughout his career for his inconsistency in finding the strike zone and walked at least 90 in each of the last two seasons with Oakland. He curtailed some of those issues during his first half with the Nats, but over his last four starts he’s walked at least three in three of them.

Stache Keys to the Game:

  1. Don’t Knuckle Under – With an 11-game west coast trip ahead, things have the potential to get very bad for the Mets over the next two weeks if they don’t start turning things around soon. That starts with the staff ace Dickey, who has been one of the Mets’ brightest spots this season and needs to shine brightest in this time of need.
  2. Get A Lead – Last Thursday’s game in D.C. is not only the last time the Mets won, it’s also the last time they had a lead. While they came back to make things interesting in every game against the Dodgers and last night against the Nats, they haven’t been able to get over that hump. It goes without saying that if you can’t play from ahead, you’ll never win.
  3. Hope Spring Eternal – Things look bleak right now, but the Mets still sit only 5.5 games out of a playoff spot with 66 games to play. If they can stop this skid and start a streak instead, there’s plenty of time left to make up ground in a weak National League.

This Date in Mets History:
July 24 is a relatively uneventful day in Mets history, but Vince Coleman did provide some fireworks, quite literally, on this date back in 1993. After a Mets loss to the Dodgers, Coleman was riding out of the parking lot in the car of Dodgers outfielder Eric Davis when he decided to throw an M-80 into a crowd of autograph seekers. Three fans were hurt in the blast.

After an investigation found Coleman guilty of the crime, he was sentenced to three years probation and 200 hours of community service. In addition, Major League Baseball suspended Coleman for the rest of the 1993 season.

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