R.A. Dickey notches 16th win as Mets snap six-game losing streak

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R.A. Dickey is still very much alive in the conversation for the National League Cy Young award. The knuckleballer tossed seven innings of one-run ball this afternoon at Citi Field as part of a 3-1 win over the Astros. The strong performance helped the Mets snap a six-game losing streak.

Dickey actually got the Mets on the board first in the bottom of the the fourth inning when he hit a tapper along the first base line which caused Astros starter Fernando Abad and catcher Jason Castro to collide and Ronny Cedeno to scamper home from third. Yes, it was an as ugly as it sounds. Watch the play here. Justin Turner later added a solo homer in the sixth while Jason Bay had an RBI single in the eighth. This was the first time since last Friday that the Mets scored more than two runs in a game.

Dickey allowed just five hits while striking out two and walking one. The only run scored on a wild pitch in his final inning of work. It was a little curious to see him leave the game after throwing just 86 pitches, but Jon Rauch, Josh Edgin and Frank Francisco were able to hang on. Dickey is now tied with fellow Cy Young candidates Johnny Cueto and Gio Gonzalez for the National League lead with 16 wins and ranks fourth with a 2.76 ERA. He’s also tied with Stephen Strasburg for the National League lead with 183 strikeouts.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.