R.A. Dickey defeats Cardinals, is first to 18 wins

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If R.A. Dickey had fallen back a bit in the NL Cy Young race with his little rough patch after the All-Star break, he’s pretty clearly the favorite again now.

Dickey allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings against the Cardinals on Wednesday to become the first major leaguer to reach 18 wins this season. He’s allowed a total of three runs while winning his last three starts.

At 2.64, Dickey is still a bit behind Johnny Cueto (17-7, 2.58) for the NL ERA lead. However, most of the other more visible statistics favor him. He has just four losses on the year. He has five complete games to Cueto’s two and three shutouts to Cueto’s none. He also has 195 strikeouts, compared to 149 for Cueto.

What Cueto has is the disadvantage of pitching in a ballpark that’s much more favorable to hitters. Neutralizing for ballpark, baseball-reference gives Cueto a 165 ERA+, while Dickey is at 146. That’s a big difference, but it’s probably not something that is going to get much attention from voters.

Steven Souza Jr. injured his left knee

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Almost exactly a year ago, Diamondbacks outfielder Steven Souza Jr. tore a bicep while diving for a ball in a spring training game. He’d play in only 72 games last year but he really wasn’t healthy for any of them, with the injury and aggravations to it costing him production and causing him pain.

When he started spring training this year he said he’d take it easier in games that didn’t count so he could be ready for the regular season. Sadly, he was once again injured on the eve of Opening Day, crumbling to the ground after injuring his knee while scoring on a double in an exhibition game against the White Sox (video here if you want to see it).

The injury looked bad — he was in obvious pain and could not put any weight on the leg while being helped off the field. He’s undergoing an MRI today and we’ll hear more soon, but it does not look good.

Assuming Souza is out for an extended period, Adam Jones will likely be the Dbacks’ everyday right fielder.