Edwin Jackson took the mound in the nation’s capital on Saturday night with a 3.29 ERA, 16 walks, 40 Ks and a .242/.292/.464 line against in nine starts and 54 2⁄3 innings pitched since he was called up to the majors to join Washington’s rotation in mid-July.
His last start before he took on the Philadelphia Phillies was a 5 2⁄3-inning outing against the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park in which the veteran right-hander gave up five hits and five runs, four of them earned, with four of the five hits extra-base hits (two doubles and two home runs).
“He couldn’t keep the ball down consistently which usually leads to the extra base hits,” Dusty Baker told reporters.
“You have to execute down in the zone,” Jackson said, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo.
“If you’re going to miss, it needs to be misses down in the zone. And today the misses were up, and they took advantage of it.”
Jackson was taking on the Phillies for the first time this season in the third game of the four-game set Saturday in D.C.
After a quick, seven-pitch, seven-strike, 1-2-3 first, Jackson left a 2-2 slider up and out over the middle of the plate for Phillies’ rookie Rhys Hoskins, who hit his 14th homer in 30 games out to left field to tie it up at 1-1 after a Howie Kendrick home run gave the Nationals an early lead.
Maikel Franco went up for a 3-2 fastball at the top of the strike zone and powered the second home run of Phillies’ second out to left field to put the visiting team up 2-1.
Jackson worked out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the third inning, then had the first three batters in the fourth inning reach base, on a single, walk, and RBI single, with Cameron Rupp sending a blooper to right for the third hit to make it a 3-1 lead, before a misplay by Ryan Zimmerman on a roller towards first base by Cesar Hernadez allowed the fourth run to score, 4-1. A base-loading walk ended Jackson’s night.
• Edwin Jackson’s Line: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 72 P, 42 S, 3/1 GO/FO.
“Second inning I pretty much got beat hanging slider, and a fastball up in the zone on a 3-2 count,” Jackson said after what ended up a 5-4 loss to the Phillies that snapped the Nationals’ five-game win streak.
“You have to go out, you have to execute,” Jackson added, “you have to make pitches, and you have to be aggressive in the strike zone.
“I would say the biggest difference you see the games where I’ve been aggressive and the games I haven’t been aggressive, it’s been night and day results. The games where you’re ahead and you put the pressure on the hitter, you have much different results than when you’re behind in the count and you have to make pitches, and if you don’t execute, then that’s what happens.”
Jackson seemed to have a little trouble getting on the same page with catcher Raudy Read, who was starting his first major league game.
Neither he nor Baker thought the lack of familiarity was a real problem.
“They talked yesterday,” Baker said, “but I could tell that they weren’t exactly on the same page because of the amount of time that Jackson was kind of taking between pitches. But Raudy in his first game in the big leagues, he did a pretty good job.”
“This is the game of baseball,” Jackson told reporters, “at the end of the day, anything that happens is never on the catcher. As a starting pitcher we have the say-so, at what goes, never go out and put the blame on a catcher.”
“It’s just one of those things, like I said, at the end of the day I put the pressure on myself to go out and execute pitches, and I didn’t do a great job of that tonight.”