He is the lone Nationals starting pitcher with playoff experience and Edwin Jackson has the World Series ring to prove it.
With ace Stephen Strasburg done for the season, Jackson will play a pivotal role next month when the postseason begins in earnest. He’s apparently in mid-October form already.
Jackson made full use of his limited run support in Friday night’s disappointing 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. He left after eight complete innings with one run allowed on six hits, no walks and six strikeouts. If it wasn’t his best performance of the season it was up there. Unfortunately, a blown save by closer Tyler Clippard in the ninth inning cost Jackson and the Nats a win. But his effort – against a desperate team mounting a late charge for a playoff spot – was encouraging.
“[Jackson] started the game a little bit up, hung a slider to [Jonathan] Lucroy. But after that he got back down and he was great,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said. “What’d he throw, about 105 pitches or something? It was a great outing.”
Added teammate Bryce Harper: “He was lights out. EJ’s pretty unbelievable when he goes out there and shows his stuff. I think he battled his tail off out there, threw a great eight innings and just has nothing to show for it.”
Jackson retired the side in order in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh innings and dynamite defensive plays by Harper in center field and second baseman Danny Espinosa helped him escape trouble in the fourth. Jackson and catcher Jesus Flores later teamed up on a strikeout and throw out double play with one out in the eighth inning. It was the kind of grace under pressure the Nats will need in the coming weeks and Jackson is the only pitcher in the rotation who has been through it before.
“It definitely helps. You have to kind of slow the game down a little bit,” Jackson said. “When you’re playing games this meaningful like this, it can speed up on you real quick. To do go out there and to slow it down is big . And once you’ve done it a few times it definitely helps since you’ve been in that situation before.”
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