NEW YORK -- The fans came to see R.A. Dickey. They left buzzing about Travis Snider.In fact, it is rather safe to say that what most of the 31,506 in Citi Field for the Mets' 6-5 victory over the Pirates will most remember about the game is not Dickey's 20th win but Snider's second-inning catch. Of course, calling Snider's leaping, soaring theft a "catch" is like calling the Mona Lisa a "sketch." "It's amazing," Snider said about the feeling of coming down with Mike Baxter's ball in a one-run game. "Doing it in a situation like that -- we all heard the crowd, they were pretty electric, knowing those guys were playing for something -- made it pretty special." Those Mets guys were playing for Dickey, and not even Snider could deprive him of his 20th, as he sent the Pirates closer toward their own 20th -- consecutive losing seasons, that is. Pittsburgh is 76-80 with six games on its season-closing homestand to go. The Bucs had a late injury added to their insult, as Andrew McCutchen had to leave the game after bruising his left knee on a diving catch attempt in the seventh. McCutchen charged in for Daniel Murphy's sinking liner, but his lunge resulted only in the ball short-hopping into his glove. McCutchen recovered in time to throw to second for a force of Ruben Tejada, but stayed down on the ground as trainer Todd Tomczyk, trailed by manager Clint Hurdle, came out to check on him. Minutes later, the three men walked off the field together. "Doesn't feel good, but it's all right," McCutchen said after the game. "I hit the ground pretty hard -- it was like hitting your knee into a brick wall. That's a hard field. "But it'll be fine," added McCutchen, who hoped not to have to miss Friday night's opener of a three-game series in PNC Park against the National League Central champion Reds. Dickey spent most of the afternoon frustrating the Pittsburgh batters, against whom he reached a personal strikeout high for the second time in four months. On May 22, Dickey whiffed a career-high 11 batters in PNC Park. Since, he'd topped that with 13 in an Interleague game against Baltimore. On Thursday, he matched that 13 before being removed with two outs in the eighth following his 128th pitch. The 37-year-old knuckleball specialist had to rebound on the backs of his offense, after falling behind 2-0 in the second on Rod Barajas' RBI double and Jordy Mercer's run-scoring infield single, then 3-1 on Barajas' solo homer in the fourth. Kevin Correia could hold off only so long what felt like Dickey's destiny on a cool, overcast closing day in Citi Field. "We were hitting him pretty good. If I'd pitched halfway decent, we would've had a great shot at getting him," Correia said. "My location wasn't great today. I was missing in spots normally I don't. I yanked quite a few pitches. "I don't know why. I just wasn't locating as I've been throwing recently. It's sad; normally I can pick some positive out of a start. Today, there wasn't any." Ike Davis' second-inning homer got the Mets on the board, they rallied to within 3-2 on Scott Hairston's RBI single in the fourth and broke on top with a four-run fifth-inning surge. Murphy singled for the tying run before David Wright's three-run homer dramatically turned the tables in Dickey's favor. Given Dickey's quest, you'd have thought nothing or no one could trump him. But Snider managed it, in one brilliant moment of flight. Two batters after Davis' homer in the second, Baxter drilled a 2-2 pitch considerably over the wall in the right-field corner. Except, Snider got to the spot where the ball was destined to clear, leaped -- and snow-coned it in his glove, easily three, four feet above the wall. Maybe the most stunned person in the park was the man who hit the long fly.
"It was one of the greatest catches I've ever seen. Snider literally climbed the wall. He kept rising. It was unbelievable -- a great play," Baxter said. "Incredible. Absolutely incredible. I was just running, I didn't even know that I got called out and I had to watch the replay. Absolutely incredible catch by Snider. I don't know how he did it, but it's one of the best I've ever seen."
"Man, I didn't think he had a chance," said Correia, who indeed dropped his head disconsolately as the ball jumped off Baxter's bat -- much in the way he would two innings later, on Wright's swing. "Unbelievable. The best I've seen this year, and the best I've ever had on the mound."So I guess it could've been worse. They could've had one more run." That wall is eight-feet high. Snider is six-foot even. So we are talking about some serious hang time. "I definitely couldn't jump that high," said Snider, who used the chain links on the fence to propel upwards. "I've tried that on padded walls, and I've been unsuccessful. Everything just kinda came together on the one play."
Snider's powers went only so far. The Pirates are still looking at a losing record, barring a remarkable finish against two playoff teams.As Hurdle said, "We've played this out as far as we could. Gotta win 'em out now." If you are going to make a highlight -- no, a time-capsule -- catch, there is no better place for it than New York, where fame is fanned quickly. Snider didn't have to wait long for the first flames of that celebrity. Or, at all. Before the next pitch, he stood in right field and looked over his right shoulder at the giant video board, already replaying the dazzler. "I didn't know what to think," Snider recalled of his immediate reaction. "I was in a daze. I was happy to be able to contribute defensively, and pick some guys up in a situation like that."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.