Edwin Jackson's had three chances to become the fifth Washington Nationals' starter with double-digit wins. The recently-turned-29-year-old right-hander is (0-1) with the Nats 0-3 in those outings, including a strong start last time out against the Milwaukee Brewers in which E-Jax threw eight strong, allowing just one run on six hits in what ended up a 4-2 loss when Tyler Clippard struggled on the mound in D.C. and blew a 2-1 lead and the game in the top of the ninth. "Well, that one hurt," Davey Johnson told reporters after the loss.
"Jackson pitched a great ballgame. I was tempted to let him go out in the ninth, but I said, 'You pitched a great ballgame, Clippard's fresh. Let's go there.'"
After hanging an 0-2 slider to Brewers' catcher Jonathan Lucroy early in the second, Jackson retired six-straight. In the fourth, E-Jax got help from his defense when Bryce Harper threw Ryan Braun out at home as the Milwaukee outfielder tried to score from second on an Aramis Ramirez single after Braun had doubled his way on to open the inning. E-Jax gave up a single by Lucroy in the next at bat for the third-straight hit that inning, but the Nats' starter got a double play to escape the frame with Washington's 2-1 lead intact.
"[Jackson] was great," Davey Johnson stressed afterwards, "He started the game a little bit up. Hung a slider to Lucroy. But after that he got back down and he was great. What did he throw, about 105 pitches or something? It was a great outing." Going forward, the Nats' skipper said he thought the veteran of ten MLB seasons and seven postseason appearances, four as a starter, would benefit the Nationals as they head to the postseason either as a Wild Card team or if the 69-year-old Johnson has his way, the NL East champs. The Nats' manager said he had a glimpse in Jackson's last outing of what the right-hander can bring.
"It's a big deal," Johnson said of the pitcher's experience. "He had that kind of postseason demeanor about him today." The Nationals' manager also praised E-Jax's work the last time he faced the same Cardinals he faces tonight. Jackson helped the Cards to a World Series win last season after he arrived in a convoluted four-team trade that sent him from Arizona to Chicago, Toronto and finally St. Louis at the end of July. After finishing out the 2011 season in St. Louis, Jackson signed a 1-year/$11M dollar deal with Washington this past February and he's about to help the third team of eight he's pitched for his in his career make a playoff run in October.
The Nats' skipper thought Jackson had something to prove last time out against the Cardinals. "He knew he was going up against his old ballclub and he really wanted to pitch a good game and show them," Johnson said, "I think it was great. Everybody could feel it and knew it." Jackson threw seven scoreless and even though he was at 105 pitches and his spot came around in the lineup in the bottom of the inning, Johnson said the decision to let E-Jax hit was an easy one. "He had his shin guard on and his helmet and his gloves on," Johnson told reporters, "Three hitters before he [was due up]. So it was very obvious what he wanted to do. He wanted to throw a shutout and a complete game."
Jackson would give up an unearned run in the eighth, but complete an 18-pitch inning against his old team. Jackson got the win that night, then beat the Cubs in his next start in a so-so outing in which he received 11 runs of support. In his last three starts, however, he's winless. Jackson has a 5.00 ERA over his last 18.0 IP, in which he's allowed 19 hits, 11 runs, 10 earned and three walks while striking out 15. Tonight the right-hander makes his second start of the year against St. Louis, back in Busch Stadium for the first time since last season.
In his career, E-Jax has made 10 starts in St. Louis, posting a (3-1) record with a 3.12 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 27 walks (4.01 BB/9) and 45 Ks (6.68 K/9) in 60.2 IP. After helping helping the second team in two years to the post season, will Jackson be back in D.C. in 2013? When D.C. GM Mike Rizzo was asked about both Adam LaRoche and Jackson during the latest edition of the The Mike Rizzo Show with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier, Rizzo said that both the first basemen and starter, "... fit for us in the clubhouse and on the field. They're the character that we want, they're the makeup we want and they're the skill-level we want."
"We've had discussions with Edwin's people," Rizzo said, but the team would have to see where those talks went. "We have to have a long-term vision of these things, but these are two guys that fit for us in the clubhouse and on the field and you can't have too many of those guys and I love having both of them around."
Edwin Jackson makes his 30th start of 2012 tonight in St. Louis.
• Here's tonight's lineup:
Tonight's lineup: Werth, rf; Harper, cf; Zimmerman, 3b; LaRoche, 1b; Morse, lf; Desmond, ss; Espinosa, 2b; Suzuki, c; Jackson, p.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 28, 2012
• Listen to this past week's edition of The Mike Rizzo Show w/ Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier: