Edwin Jackson will be making his eighth postseason appearance and his fifth playoff start when he takes the mound this afternoon in the nation's capital against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Three of the NLDS. Nationals' manager Davey Johnson was asked yesterday if the 29-year-old right-hander's playoff experience factored into the decision to sign Jackson to a free agent deal this past winter when the Nats inked the 10-year veteran to a 1-year/$11M dollar deal?
"I saw him pitch two or three games on tv late in the season, postseason," the Nats' skipper said, "Great arm, great stuff, great competitior. He was going to help eat up some innings for us, and he did that. He's been outstanding all year long and pitched exceptionally well, so it's good to have him here and it's good to have his experience going into Game Three."
Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, each making their first postseason appearances in Game One and Two, respectively, allowed a combined 12 hits and seven runs in eight innings pitched in the first two games of the series with the Cards. "I think a little bit of our inexperience showed up in the first two games," Davey Johnson told reporters on Tuesday, "The pitching has been our strength all year. And [we] really didn't get too good [pitching] the first two games and that's not our trademark. But I'm certainly looking forward to Jackson and also [Ross Detwiler]. They're certainly capable of pitching good ballgames."
Jackson's last outing against St. Louis (1.1 IP, 6 H, 9 R/8 ER), was a rough one, but as the Nationals' manager pointed out yesterday, "He also pitched a really good game against [the Cardinals] here." If he pitches to the best of his ability, Johnson argued, he's capable of holding the Cardinals' lineup down like he did in his only other start against St. Louis this season back on August 30th when he held them scoreless through seven and gave up just one unearned run in the eighth inning of an 8-1 win.
"He's just a quality pitcher," Johnson said, "He's got good stuff. A great moving fastball. If he keeps things down like he usually does, great breaking stuff, he tough."
Jackson told reporters on Tuesday that he's not concerned about having too much rest going into today's start, having sat since his last regular season outing on October 3rd when he held the Phillies to a run on six hits in 6.1 IP of a 5-1 Nats' win that gave Jackson his tenth victory of the season and gave the Nats' five double-digit winners in the starting rotation. Too much rest, the pitcher said, will not be a problem. At this point, the Nats' starter said, "You're not really thinking about how many days, or how long you've had off," Jackson said, "At this point it's pretty much all or nothing and worrying about days off is the last thing that's on my mind."
The pressure of the situation is something he's considered though. "I feel like being the only one with playoff experience in the rotation," Jackson explained on Tuesday, "I mean, it's high expectations on me. I have high expectations for myself as well. This is one of those games where you go out and you try to lead by example. We each won one, this is a big game for both teams. Both teams trying to come out and win this game to go ahead in the series. You have to go out and at the end of the day it's all about execution. You just have to go out and execute and slow the game down and relax and have fun."
Jackson's isn't putting too much pressure on himself, however. "No one has to be a hero," the right-hander said, "We just have to go out and play the game the right way and play baseball like we know how to play." The starts he made against St. Louis this season. His 10 wins. The 98 games the Nationals won this year. His past postseason starts. None of that matters now.
"At this point what you've done in the regular season... it's non-existent," Jackson said, "You can go out and have a great regular season and have a bad postseason and that's what everyone remembers. At this point it's, 'What can you do now?'"
The Nationals will find out what E-Jax can do at 1:00 pm EDT this afternoon when he takes on the Cardinals in Game Three of the NLDS...
• Note: Today's game in D.C. takes place on the 88th anniversary of the last and only World Series win in D.C. baseball history. The Nationals bring postseason baseball back to the nation's capital 79 years after the last posteason game and 88 years to the day after the last and only World Series clincher: