Given an opportunity to show the Washington Nationals what he has left, 33-year-old right-hander Edwin Jackson took the mound Tuesday night in the series opener with the LA Angels after a successful stint with the Nats’ top minor league affiliate which saw the veteran of 15 major league seasons put up a 0.44 ERA (1 ER in 20 1⁄3 IP), 10 walks, 22 Ks, and a .130 batting average against.
Signed to a minor league deal after he was designated for assignment by Baltimore, and opted for free agency in mid-June, Jackson, who pitched for the NL East division-winning Nats in 2012, returned to the organization and was called up today to start in placed of injured right-hander Joe Ross, who’s due to have Tommy John surgery on Wednesday.
In announcing that E-Jax would get the start tonight against the LA Angels, Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told Sirius/XM hosts Jim Bowden and Craig Mish he wanted to see, “where he’s at in his career, and hopefully — he’s pitched extremely well for us in Triple-A — hopefully he can gives us a couple of really good starts and we won’t have the need to go and get ourselves a starting pitcher at the deadline.”
Jackson took the mound with a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Bryce harper blast in the first, but gave up a two-out solo home run by Mike Trout in the bottom of the inning, on a 96 mph 3-1 fastball that bounced off the rocks beyond the center field wall in Angel Stadium.
E-Jax set the next ten Angels down in order, however to keep it tied at 1-1 after four innings.
He was up to 13-straight set down and 70 pitches total after a 12-pitch fifth, but the right-hander gave up a solo shot to left by Angels’ catcher Martin Maldonado on a 2-1 slider in the first at bat of the sixth, 2-1 LAA.
It was just the third hit, and second home run E-Jax allowed. It was also the last.
Jackson came back out for the bottom of the seventh with the score tied at 2-2 after Anthony Rendon hit the fourth home run of the game in the top of the inning, and set the Angels down in order in a five-pitch frame that left him at 91 pitches.
That was it for Jackson after the Nationals took a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth.
Edwin Jackson’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 2 HRs, 91 P, 57 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
“He threw the ball well,” Dusty Baker told reporters after the Nationals’ sixth straight win.
“He gave us seven strong innings, and he only made one mistake, you know. He hung a breaking ball, and that was really it. Mike Trout’s ball, that wasn’t a mistake, but the other one was a mistake, he hung a breaking ball. But other than that he threw the ball well, he kept his pitch count down, and it was good to see him come through like that and it was good to see him get the victory, especially after his hard work.”
The Nats’ skipper was asked if Jackson exceeded his expectations?
“No, not really,” Baker said, “because his pitch count was relatively low.
“My expectations were — I didn’t have any. I just wanted him to do well, keep us in the game. They shut our offense down pretty good. With a club like this, you know like we can explode at any moment, he gave us all that we could ask for.”
So did he earn another start?
“Yeah,” Baker said. “He threw the ball well, so I don’t think that’s a question.”
Edwin Jackson said people have asked him the last few years why he's still grinding. EJ: "I still feel like I've got something in the tank."— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) July 19, 2017