WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 14: Edwin Jackson #33 and Jesus Flores #26 of the Washington Nationals celebrate after defeating the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park on April 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
If Edwin Jackson was nervous during his complete game two-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds this afternoon in Nationals Park, he showed no signs of it on the mound or during his post-game interview with MASN's Kristina Akra. The leadoff walk in the eighth, the Gatorade shower he was given by his catchers Jesus Flores and Wilson Ramos during the interview, nothing shook the 28-year-old right-hander who retired sixteen batters in-a-row at one point and needed just 92 pitches total, 62 of them strikes to finish off the Reds for the Washington Nationals' 5th straight win. "I feel good right now, to be able to come out and give the fans a great game to come watch," Jackson said after the game, "It was a great team effort by everyone. We had great offense, we played great defense and Flores and myself..."
[CUE GATORADE BATH]
It didn't shake Jackson, who picked up right where he left off. "Defintely, yeah, Flores and myself, we were able to come out and get in an early groove and pretty much kept it going the whole game and I'm just excited for the fans to be able to come out and give all these great people something to cheer about." The right-hander said he had a lot of confidence in his offense, and once they took the lead on a two-run double by Adam LaRoche in the third, Jackson said, "I just told myself I'm not going to give it up and I'm going to go out and continue to win every inning and we were able to do that." Jackson's Line: 9.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K's, 92 pitches, 67 strikes, 10/6 GO/FO, and (1-0) on the season after the win. Nothing shook Edwin Jackson today. As for 69-year-old Nats' skipper Davey Johnson?
"Wooo. I tell you, I haven't been that nervous in a long time," the Nats' manager said as he sat down for the post-game press conference following the Nationals' 4-1 win. "When I'm seeing a gem, and when we need it, and when I'm seeing lights-out, it makes me nervous. I don't usually get nervous, but when you see something like that... He had a low pitch count, just a dominating game, from a managing standpoint, it's kind of like you don't want anything to go wrong and so you kind of protect against all contingencies, you're all wound up. I talked to [Edwin] after and I said, 'Man, I was nervous,' and he said, 'Skip, I wasn't.'"
"But great performances like that," Johnson continued, "It couldn't come at a better time." The Nationals went thirteen innings last night and they needed another strong performance from their starters, who, as the Nationals noted on Twitter after today's game, have a ridiculous line through the first nine games of the 2012 season:
#Nats rotation through 9 starts in 2012: 56.2 IP, 33 H, 10 ER, 13 BB, 55 K, 1.58 ERA— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 14, 2012
Davey Johnson said he did have options available to him, but wanted to make sure Edwin Jackson got what he deserved for his efforts. "I had bullets [in the bullpen]," Johnson said, "[Tyler Clippard] was rested, I got him going, and then I wasn't going to let anything happen. Neither was Edwin. He wasn't going to let anything happen either." The Nats' manager marveled at the low pitch count Edwin Jackson finished the game with, explaining to reporters, "That tells me a lot of things. It tells me his stuff was outstanding and that hitters were swinging early in the count, it tells you a lot. Not wanting to get behind on him, so early swinging and his command was outstanding."
The competition amongst the Nats' starters is definitely driving the team's success so far, Davey Johnson acknowledged. "There's no doubt about it," he said, "I mean that's what happens on all good staffs. They all kind of, peer pressure, and, 'He threw a good one, I want to throw a better [one],' that kind of deal, but [Jackson's] command, his stuff, the way he attacked hitters and he was still strong at the end of the game. I haven't seen him throw that hard. I knew he could throw hard, but he was bringing it."
There was a moment in the eighth, when Jackson issued a leadoff walk, breaking the streak of sixteen-straight Cincinnati hitters set down, that Davey Johnson said really made him nervous. The skipper sent pitching coach Steve McCatty out to the mound for a chat with the starter, explaining, "That's what you worry about. Those are the things that make me nervous, you know? I don't have a long history with Edwin Jackson. All of a sudden can he get wild? All of a sudden is this a situation he's not used to? And I even checked, I think he had one complete game last year and I think he had four on his career. All those things."
"'I ain't letting this puppy get away,'" Johnson said, recalling his thought process late in the game as his pitching coach talked to his starter after the walk, "'I'm going to have all my guns lined up and hot, ready to pull the trigger,' and didn't need to and that's the good thing."
"What he end up with, like 94 pitches?" Davey Johnson asked reporters.
"92. Phenomenal. For a guy [who's] a power pitcher, that misses bats, strikes out people...that's a good-hitting ballclub too."
Johnson sent McCatty out to see how Jackson was, but the pitcher's response said it all. "I told [McCatty] to go talk to [Jackson]," Davey Johnson said, "And I said, 'Please talk to him and see how he's feeling,' and his response to Cat? 'I want it.' And that was good enough for me... but I still was nervous."