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The best pitcher in baseball is ... R.A. Dickey?

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The best pitcher in baseball is ... R.A. Dickey?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- R.A. Dickey saved his career by cultivating a knuckleball. Now he's using it to rewrite the Mets' record book as baseball's most dominant pitcher. Dickey became the first major leaguer in 24 years to throw consecutive one-hitters and Ike Davis hit a grand slam to lead New York past the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 on Monday night. Coming off a one-hit gem at Tampa Bay last Wednesday, Dickey struck out a career-high 13 and allowed only Wilson Betemit's clean single in the fifth inning. He has not permitted an earned run in 42 2-3 innings, the second-longest stretch in club history behind Dwight Gooden's streak of 49 innings in 1985. "I don't really feel much more confident than I did the last couple years," Dickey said. "I've always felt like I have a pretty good knuckleball. I worked hard to do that." The previous pitcher to spin consecutive one-hitters was Dave Stieb for Toronto in September 1988, according to STATS LLC. The Mets said the last to match the feat -- or top it -- in the National League was Jim Tobin with the 1944 Boston Braves, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. Tobin tossed a one-hitter followed by a no-hitter. The 37-year-old Dickey (11-1) walked two and became the first 11-game winner in the majors, befuddling Baltimore with knucklers that ranged from 66-81 mph in a game that took just 2 hours, 7 minutes. He fanned the final two hitters and four of his last five, topping his previous career best of 12 strikeouts set Wednesday against the Rays. "Yeah, it's surreal," Dickey said. "You almost get emotional out there, especially that last hitter. You hear everybody, like one big heartbeat beating. That's the best way I could explain it." A longtime journeyman before joining the Mets in 2010, Dickey has won a career-best nine straight decisions and six consecutive starts. He is tied for the major league lead in ERA (2.00), strikeouts (103) and complete games (three). It was his fourth game this season with double-digit strikeouts, most in the majors, and the fifth of his career. The right-hander has an incredible 71 strikeouts and six walks in his last seven starts. "I'm going to leave it to you guys to explain it. I'm just going to try to be in the moment with it," said Dickey, a deeply religious deep thinker. Betemit's two-out single in the fifth ended Dickey's franchise-record streak of 13 hitless innings. "Do I have a chance to appeal that base hit? Did anybody dive for that ball? I got a bad view," Mets manager Terry Collins said, drawing laughs. The only blemish Wednesday night was B.J. Upton's infield single with two outs in the first, a high bouncer that third baseman David Wright tried to field with his bare hand. After the game, the Mets appealed the official scoring decision to Major League Baseball, asking the commissioner's office to review the play and consider whether Wright should be charged with an error, thus giving Dickey the team's second no-hitter this month. The appeal was denied and Dickey said he was relieved, explaining that there would have been "an asterisk by it bigger than the no-hitter itself." The only active knuckleballer in the majors, Dickey has a 1.21 ERA and 88 strikeouts during his nine-game winning streak. It was his fifth career shutout and second this season, both in June. Pretty amazing for a guy who relies on a seemingly uncontrollable pitch that he throws harder and with more precision than just about anyone else who's made a living on it. "He has no wild pitches this year. That's impressive," Baltimore slugger Adam Jones said. "He's in a groove." The Mets said Dickey has made five straight starts with no earned runs allowed and at least eight strikeouts, the longest streak in major league history, according to Elias. One of the people Dickey can thank for his incredible success story is Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was instrumental in persuading the pitcher to remake himself into a knuckleballer when both were with the Texas Rangers. "He had every attribute of a major league pitcher except the arm," Showalter said, his thoughts then turning to the fact that his team was about to face Dickey. "I wish it hadn't happened." After the game, Dickey said he would be remiss not to thank Showalter. "You know, and this is a tip of the hat to him: It was fairly poetic, I thought. The last game he saw me pitch live I gave up six home runs and tied a modern-day major league record," Dickey said. "It's really incredible." A member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team and a first-round draft pick out of Tennessee, Dickey was devastated when the Rangers reduced their signing-bonus offer from more than 800,000 to 75,000 after they discovered during a physical that he was missing a major ligament in his pitching elbow. Undeterred, perseverance got him to the big leagues anyway. When he failed, the knuckleball brought him back. Committed to his craft, Dickey enlisted the help of former knuckleballers like Charlie Hough and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro. Along the way, teammates and fans were introduced to his unique personality: A voracious reader, Dickey climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in January to raise money for charity and released an autobiography that revealed suicidal thoughts and the sexual abuse he endured as a child. He's even featured in a documentary film called "Knuckleball." Dickey made his mark at the plate on Monday, too, sparking New York's big rally with a leadoff single in the sixth against Jake Arrieta (3-9). Jordany Valdespin doubled with one out and Dickey had to scramble back to third after he initially broke the wrong way on Wright's lineout to shortstop. The pitcher barely beat the throw with a headfirst dive, which turned out to be a crucial play. Lucas Duda walked and Davis hit the next pitch just to the left of center for his seventh home run of the year and first career slam. Valdespin tripled off Kevin Gregg in the eighth and scored on Wright's single. The Mets, who lead the NL with seven shutouts, had lost three straight and nine of 13.

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LaVar Ball says Wizards 'better beware' with matchup vs. Lakers approaching, Marcin Gortat fires back

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Ball Is Life

LaVar Ball says Wizards 'better beware' with matchup vs. Lakers approaching, Marcin Gortat fires back

John Wall, when asked about Lonzo and LaVar Ball over the weekend on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, said that Lonzo is a "nice kid" but the trash-talking his father does will be "taken personally" by other NBA players. He explained how Lonzo will "be targeted" because of those comments.

Wall stopped short of saying whether he himself had taken them personally. Well, now LaVar is going after his Wizards.

In a video posted by Ball Is Life on Monday, Ball calls out the Wizards, who they host on Wednesday at the Staples Center:

"Washington is coming in here Wednesday? They better beware because Lonzo ain't losing again, not in the same week."

Wizards center Marcin Gortat saw the video soon after it was posted and tweeted that Wall is going to "torture" Ball for 48 minutes:

The Wizards play the Nuggets on Monday night, but it's hard not to look ahead at Wizards-Lakers which just got even more interesting.

For Wall's full comments on the Ball family, plus his explanation of 'Wolf Season,' check out the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

[RELATED: WIZARDS PICKING UP OUBRE'S OPTION WAS EASY CALL]

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Ravens offense continues to be haunted by injuries in loss to Vikings

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Ravens offense continues to be haunted by injuries in loss to Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS -- Even though he was signed to help the Vikings replace Adrian Peterson, Latavius Murray has been behind nearly from the day he stepped foot in Minnesota.

Plowing through the Baltimore Ravens as he did on Sunday should help him catch up in a hurry.

Murray rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown and Kai Forbath kicked six field goals to lift the Vikings to a 24-16 victory over the Ravens.

After making the decision to move on from the face of the franchise, the Vikings signed Murray away from the Oakland Raiders to help fill the void. But ankle surgery kept him out of the entire offseason program, all of training camp and most of the preseason and buried him on the depth chart behind Dalvin Cook, who was lost for the season with a knee injury on Oct. 1, and Jerick McKinnon.

RELATED: RAVENS NATIONAL ANTHEM SINGER RESIGNS

"I just think it was a matter of me just trying to find my rhythm, try to get a groove going," Murray said after averaging 6.3 yards per carry. "I said eventually I know I would have some success. I knew I had to continue to keep doing what I do and continue to keep working, and hopefully like today, those big runs will pop."

Forbath made kicks of 52, 51, 43, 43, 34 and 32 yards to back another suffocating effort from the defense for the Vikings (5-2).

Minnesota sacked Joe Flacco five times and allowed just 208 yards. Everson Griffen had two sacks and has nine for the season.

Justin Tucker kicked three field goals for the Ravens (3-4), including a 57-yarder in the first half. Flacco completed 26 of 38 passes for 186 yards and a 13-yard touchdown to Chris Moore as time expired.

"Those clich?s like `worn down' and `gap control,' it's just all meaningless chatter," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after his team gave up 169 yards rushing. "We've got to do a better job against the run and get them stopped. They did a good job and we didn't."

The nine combined field goals tied an NFL record for most made field goals in a game.

RELATED: RAY LEWIS NOMINATED FOR 2018 PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS

Murray was off to a slow start this season with just 97 yards rushing through the first six games. But he burst through a big hole in the third quarter, made one cut and surged to the end zone to give the Vikings an 18-6 lead.

"It's good to see him going," coach Mike Zimmer said. "It adds a dimension on the offense with a guy like Jerick and a guy like him."

Case Keenum had an erratic afternoon, completing 20 of 31 passes for 188 yards and one interception for the Vikings.

Flacco, who entered the day with a 66.1 rating that was good for 31st in the league, was stuck under 100 yards passing until well into the fourth quarter.