Immediately after R.A. Dickey completed his latest masterpiece Monday night, the Citi Field scoreboard flashed a picture of Dickey along with the phrase "Really Awesome."
"Really Absurd" might be the better phrase.
Dickey continued a dynamic run of pitching that almost defies description Monday by throwing his second straight one-hitter to lead the Mets past the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 in front of 29,014.
A sixth-inning grand slam by Ike Davis was more than enough support for Dickey (11-1, 2.00 ERA), who issued two walks and struck out 13 in winning his sixth straight start and throwing his second shutout and third complete game over his last four starts. He hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 43 innings, a stretch in which he has allowed just 17 hits and four walks while striking out 54 batters.
Those are impressive numbers for anyone, much less for a 37-year-old knuckleballer barely two years removed from being among the Mets' first cuts in spring training.
"I've never seen anything like it," Mets manager Terry Collins said before pausing. "I don't know what to do. I sit there and put him in the game and I look at [pitching coach] Dan [Warthen], and I say 'I'm going to figure out how to score a run here,' because if we score we've got a chance to win."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Dickey is the first pitcher to throw consecutive one-hitters since Dave Stieb did so for the Toronto Blue Jays in September 1988 and the first National League pitcher to allow one or no hits in consecutive complete games since Jim Tobin threw a one-hitter and a no-hitter for the Boston Braves on April 23 and April 27, 1944.
"When you think about Koufaxes and Seavers and those guys, the greats of the great - you know, 97 mile per hour fastballs and great curveballs, the Goodens and Verlanders," Collins said. "This guy just is amazing with that pitch. Just amazing. Pitch selection's pretty easy. It's about command and how he commands it. It's unbelievable."
The crowd at Citi Field roared and chanted "R.A. Dickey!" throughout the ninth inning, which Dickey ended with consecutive strikeouts of J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis.
"It's almost emotional out there, especially that last hitter [and] hearing everyone - one big heartbeat," Dickey said.
Unlike last Wednesday, there was no controversy surrounding this one-hitter. With the crowd already sensing history and chanting Dickey's name, Wilson Betemit laced a clean single to right field with two outs in the fifth. It was the first hit off Dickey in 13 innings, a span of 41 batters in which he issued just one walk and struck out 17.
The Mets appealed the decision on the lone hit off Dickey last week, an infield single by B.J. Upton that third baseman David Wright tried to barehand but didn't. Dickey retired 22 in a row after Upton's single before a Wright error and two passed balls led to the Rays scoring an unearned run in the ninth.
On Monday, Dickey didn't allow a single baserunner past first base. He walked opposing pitcher Jake Arrieta in the third and Betemit in the eighth.
"He's a tough pitcher to face," said Davis, who struck out three times in four at-bats. "He's had a lot of success this year. He obviously knows what he's doing."
Arrieta matched zeroes with Dickey until the sixth when, appropriately enough, Dickey began the Mets' rally with a leadoff single. He went to third on Jordany Valdespin's one-out double. Lucas Duda walked one out later and Davis crushed Arrieta's next pitch to dead center field for his first homer at Citi Field since May 6, 2011. Davis entered the at-bat hitting just .121 (12-for-99) at home this year.
Valdespin tripled with one out in the ninth and scored the Mets' final run on Wright's infield single.
Arrieta allowed six hits and walked one while striking out four. He worked out of a jam in the second, when Duda singled and went to third on Scott Hairston's one-out single before Josh Thole grounded into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
NOTES: Arrieta, who was sick Saturday night with what he thought was food poisoning, wasn't officially announced as the starter until he arrived at Citi Field. "Just wanted to make sure his energy level [was good and that] he wasn't weak or anything," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ... Orioles reliever Matt Lindstrom, who has been on the disabled list since May 11 with a partially torn ligament in his right middle finger, threw an inning in a Gulf Coast League game and will do so again on Wednesday. He could then have his rehab shifted to Double-A Bowie. ... Showalter said outfielder Nolan Reimold (neck) visited with a second cervical specialist Monday and would not be back before the All-Star Break. Reimold hasn't played since April 30 because of a herniated disk. ... Mets reliever Ramon Ramirez and shortstop Ruben Tejada were each scheduled to begin rehab assignments with Single-A Port St. Lucie Monday. Ramirez has been out since he hurt his right hamstring rushing in from the bullpen to celebrate Johan Santana's no-hitter June 1 while Tejeda suffered a strained quad May 6. ... Jason Bay, who suffered a concussion when he slammed into the wall chasing after Jay Bruce's inside-the-park home run Friday, visited with doctors today and is expected to do so again Tuesday. Bay, who missed the final two months of the 2010 season due to a concussion, is on the 7-day disabled list.