Edwin Jackson put together an impressive run at Triple-A Syracuse that earned him a call to the majors when there was a need in the Washington Nationals’ rotation, then rewarded the Nats’ faith with a strong stretch of outings once he joined the staff in the nation’s capital.
In four September starts before Thursday night’s, however, Jackson struggled, giving up 26 hits (nine home runs), and 23 runs (22 of them earned) in 16 innings pitched, over which opposing hitters put up a .361/.420/.806 line against him.
“I think at the end of the day, you just have to keep believing,” Jackson said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after giving up eight hits and six runs in what ended up a 7-6 loss to the New York Mets last week.
“It’s not an easy game. Nobody ever said it would be easy. When things aren’t going your way, you can’t fold. You can’t lose confidence. You can’t give in. You just have to keep fighting and know things will turn around.”
Jackson got off to a good start against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Thursday night’s series opener in Washington, D.C., and had a 1-0 lead to work with early, but a one-out walk in the third came around to score on a two-out double by Chris Bostick, and the one-time Nationals’ minor leaguer scored on a soft fly to short left by Starling Marte that made it 2-1.
The Nationals tied it up at 2-2 with a run in the bottom of the third inning, and Jackson worked around a single and a walk in the fourth, then retired the Pirates in order in the fifth and sixth to finish his outing by retiring seven straight batters.
• Edwin Jackson’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 97 P*, 57 S, 3/4 GO/FO.
[ed. note - “* = We (and MASN) had E-Jax at 98P. Gameday disagreed.”]
Washington took a 4-2 lead in the seventh, blew it in the top of the ninth, and won it on a walk-off single by Alejandro De Aza in the bottom of the inning.
Jackson said after the game that the outing had special meaning for him for a number of reasons.
“This is one of those games where you kind of have an emotional — Grandma just passed a few days ago,” Jackson said, “so I just wanted to go out and have fun. End of the season, not put too much pressure on myself, go out and let go and just pitch how I know I can pitch, and it was a big difference today than my last few games, just kind of went out there with a nothing to lose attitude and leave it on the field.”
“I’ve always known what I can do,” Jackson continued, “and the past three before this have been kind of terrible, so just to end it on a good note, and end it on a start where something I can walk off the field and be satisfied with to end the season, it’s kind of big for me, given the situation especially.”
He was asked if his personal loss put his struggles on the field in perspective.
“Pretty much,” he said. “That’s the game of baseball. Like I said after the last start, you can’t give in. You can’t give in when things get tougher, you have to work harder, you know, you can fold or you can fight and if I was a folder, I wouldn’t be here amongst you guys right now, I’d probably be home a long time ago given everything that I’ve been through.”
“He threw the ball great tonight,” Dusty Baker said after the Nationals’ 5-4 win.
“Other than that walk to the eighth hitter which started their rally, he threw the ball great tonight.”
Has he thrown well enough to earn a spot on the Nats’ postseason roster?
“We still haven’t discussed it yet,” Baker told reporters.
“We got a few days before we have to announce it and so we’ve semi-discussed it, but we haven’t really, really discussed it yet.”
Jackson said the postseason roster was the last thing on his mind.
“Like I said,” he explained, “with the situation and everything I’ve been dealing with the past week, playoff roster has been the last thing on my mind.
“It’s one of those things I can’t worry about anyways, I just want to go out and the main thing for me is to go out and pitch like I know I can pitch and let everything else take care of itself.”