ST. PETERSBURG — As dominant as Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was in Wednesday's 9-1 win against the Rays, the lingering question after the game was whether his one-hit, 12-strikeout gem should have actually been a no-hitter.
The only Rays play ruled a hit came in the first inning, when B.J. Upton hit a chopper to third base and David Wright, recognizing Upton's speed, tried to barehand the ball and had it bounce off his hand. For a franchise that just had its first-ever no-hitter from Johan Santana last week, the Mets were one official scoring ruling away from another.
"We said in the ninth inning, we've got to appeal that play," Mets manager Terry Collins said after the game. "We're probably not going to win it, but … what the heck? What do you have to lose, except somebody say no?"
The scoring decision suggests that a reasonable defensive play wouldn't have gotten Upton at first, and Wright — who had a throwing error in the ninth for the Rays' only other baserunner and their run — said he didn't know how the play should be scored.
"I tried to make the play. I didn't make it. It's as simple as that," he said. "I don't think I could have got him with the glove. I tried to barehand it. It skipped on me. If they want to go back and give me an error, they can do that. There's a handful of guys on that team that you'd have to barehand and rush it."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he thought the ruling was correct, a reflection of Upton's speed, rather than whether Wright could get a hand on the ball to attempt a throw.
"I thought it was a hit," Maddon said. "Of course, you think you're going to get more at that point, but I thought it was. A combination of speed and how the ball was hit, just kind of bouncing away from David."
Dickey broke a 39-year-old Mets record for consecutive scoreless innings — 312/3, by Jerry Koosman in 1973 — and said he didn't have high hopes for picking up a no-hitter after the fact from any kind of appeal.
"A Hail Mary is a good analogy," he said. "It's up to them. B.J.'s quick, and I've seen David make that play a lot of times with his bare hand. You give him 10 times, he's going to make it eight. It just kicked off his palm a little bit."
INJURY UPDATE: Wednesday marked the seventh consecutive Rays game without Luke Scott in the starting lineup. Maddon shed some light on Scott's recent absence, saying he has been sidelined by a stiff back since a pinch-hitting appearance Friday.
"His back is a little stiff. He's day to day," Maddon said. "He feels better (Wednesday) than he did (Tuesday), but he's not 100 percent."
Scott reached base in his only appearance Friday and stole a base, woke up the next morning with stiffness and hasn't played since. Still the Rays' leader with 35 RBIs, Scott is hitless in his past 15 at-bats, dropping his average to .220, including .155 against left-handed pitchers.
One day after giving OF/DH Hideki Matsui the start on his 38th birthday, Maddon had him hitting fifth in the batting order Wednesday, joking that he "recently found out that in Japan they celebrate birthdays for 48 hours."
The Rays went without Ben Zobrist for the second day in a row, but Maddon said Wednesday's scratch wasn't related to the hand injury that sidelined him Tuesday, but rather that he was simply sick and could be back today.
"He's ill. He's not feeling well," Maddon said. "A little fever in the morning, and he's getting better, but he's still under the weather a bit. … The hand is still sore, but it's not the issue. The issue is the fact that he's not well."