ANAHEIM, Calif. — Josh Hamilton likes facing knuckleballers. With the naked eye that would have been tough to pick up Tuesday night at Angel Stadium — about as tough as it was for Hamilton and his Angels teammates to pick up R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball.
The Blue Jays knuckleballer stifled the Angels bats as they were shut out for just the second time this season, snapping an 11-game home win streak in a 4-0 defeat.
It was the 11th shutout for the Blue Jays pitching staff this season, which is second in the American League, and Dickey’s knuckleball had a starring role in the latest effort.
"He had it dancing tonight, for sure," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
To prepare for Dickey, Angels bench coach Dino Ebel and batting practice pitcher Mike Ashman threw knuckleballs to hitters during batting practice Tuesday afternoon. The simulation wasn’t quite what they were soon going to face.
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"I don’t think it’s the same class as the one Dickey was throwing tonight," Scioscia quipped.
The Angels manager was able to crack a smile while discussing his staff’s efforts earlier in the afternoon. Everything after first pitch, however, was no laughing matter.
The last time Dickey stepped on the mound at Angel Stadium, he was tattooed for three runs in just a third of an inning of relief as a member of the Twins in 2009. The last time he faced the Angels prior to Tuesday was in Toronto last season when the club got to him for four runs in 5.1 innings. The Toronto starter wasn’t on his game that day. Tuesday night he was.
The Angels could barely muster four hits off of Dickey scattered across seven innings. He walked one and struck out five while throwing just 96 pitches.
Two of the four hits off of Dickey came in his final inning.
"He missed barrels tonight," said Hamilton, who was 0 for 4 on the night. "It depends on the night. If he’s throwing strikes with it, it’s a little more difficult than not. I love knuckleball pitchers. I just didn’t get any hits tonight.
"There’s nothing behind it. It’s just some nights you get hit, some nights you don’t. Some nights you get him, some nights you don’t."
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Dickey’s counterpart, Tyler Skaggs, made just one mistake all night, but he paid for it in the form of a Jose Reyes two-run home run that put the Blue Jays up 3-0 in the top of the seventh.
Toronto added another run in the eighth on Dioner Navarro’s RBI single to left to make it 4-0.
The 11-game home win streak was the second longest in club history and just one shy of the 12-game home win streak the franchise posted in 1967.