SPORTS

R.A. Dickey sees progress from adjustments he is making at Rogers Centre

08/11/2013 06:31 EDT | Updated 10/11/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - R.A. Dickey wasn't satisfied with his no-decision Sunday or the Toronto Blue Jays' loss to the Oakland Athletics, but the 2012 National League Cy Young Award-winner saw improvement from previous starts at Rogers Centre.

Dickey allowed three earned runs on six hits in seven innings as he tried some different things at a ballpark that has been a house of horrors for him this season.

The knuckleball-throwing right-hander got six strikeouts and stayed out of trouble most of the time when he kept pitches down in the zone.

"I really tried to abbreviate my stride and throw a knuckleball that would end up down, rather than a lot of times I try to put away guys with a high knuckleball, which has worked for me," Dickey said. "I was able to locate some balls down that I really tried, consciously, to do, and I was able to do it with good results. That was one thing.

"Two, I felt like I changed speeds a little bit more today throughout the range of knuckleballs that I usually throw. That was helpful."

Dickey entered the game with a 5.97 earned-run average at home. He vowed after his most recent home start to use the rest of the season to figure out ways to pitch better at Rogers Centre.

Even though Brandon Moss' home run in the sixth was the 19th Dickey gave up in 13 starts in Toronto, the 38-year-old called this an outing from which he can grow.

"I thought he did a nice job," manager John Gibbons said. "He gave us seven innings; it was a tight ballgame. He did his job."

Dickey considers it his job to give his team a chance to win. Until the sixth, it looked like he would be able to steal the game, but then Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson and Moss connected on pitches.

The knuckleball had helped him get through five scoreless innings.

"That's one of the beauties and the curses to it is that a lot of times you let a knuckleball go that's great out of your hand and it breaks right into the barrel," Dickey said.

More often than not this season, Dickey's knuckleball has been hit around Rogers Centre. But he disagreed with the notion that it's more mentally draining for him to pitch at home than on the road.

"I can hold it in the right perspective," he said. "It's a difficult pitch. It has been a difficult place for me to pitch so far, but I think that I've identified a couple things that might make me better and I look forward to trying to iron those things out."

Sunday afternoon represented progress but not enough that Dickey feels he has solved the problem.

"You continue to fight for what's going to make you good here," he said. "I've got eight more starts left, so I've got a lot of work to do."

BLUE JAYS CHANGE UP ROTATION

J.A. Happ will start for the Blue Jays in the series finale against the A's on Monday, as Gibbons announced a shake-up of the rotation for a few reasons.

Josh Johnson felt some forearm soreness after his last start, so he'll get pushed back to Wednesday, Gibbons said, expressing no concern about the righty's health. Instead of getting an extra day of rest, Happ will move up because of the death of his grandfather.

Todd Redmond will be recalled to start Tuesday and Esmil Rogers will be moved to the bullpen. Rogers has a 14.59 ERA in his past three starts.

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