Edwin Jackson is known as a pitcher who stacks up innings and pitches deep into games, one of the more durable starters in baseball. Sunday, he lasted only five innings and 77 pitches, a victim not so much of struggle but of the game situation.
Manager Davey Johnson pulled Jackson for pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi to lead off the top of the sixth inning, even though he had allowed five hits and no walks. One, he wanted to add on to the Nationals’ 4-2 lead.
More important, Joey Votto would lead off the sixth inning for the Reds, and Votto had already creamed two homers off Jackson. Johnson decided he’d use left-hander Tom Gorzelanny against Votto.
“They were hitting the ball pretty hard on him,” Johnson said. “He had some trouble with Votto. I had a fresh Gorzo.”
Gorzelanny retired Votto on a fly ball to the warning track, the only time the Nationals got him out. (Votto came awfully close to the first-ever five-homer game – in addition to his three homers, he hit a double off the wall and warning-track fly out.) Jackson had no issue with the early departure. He understood the game situation and took it in stride.
“I knew that I was up next to lead off the inning,” Jackson said. “That’s how the game is sometimes. The pitcher’s spot will lead off. We’re trying to put up some runs. You get the short end of the stick sometimes, regardless of the pitch count.”
Jackson had the stuff for a really, really good start. He retired 10 of the first 12 batters he faced – but the two non-outs were solo homers by Votto. He struck out four. On a different day, it could have been a dominant start. Instead, it was an early finish.
“I felt like I had a chance to win,” Jackson said. “Regardless of how it looked, good or mediocre, the objective was to go out and win the game. We put together some great at-bats. The only thing I was trying to do was just continue to preserve the lead, and I was able to do that. It wasn’t necessarily the fashion that I wanted it to happen in. But it’s the way the ball rolls sometimes.”