Just more than 48 hours had passed since Edwin Jackson had descended the mound Saturday night. It’d been two days since he’d tossed 103 pitches and seven innings in his most recent start when pitching coach Steve McCatty, looking at Craig Stammen alone in the bullpen, asked if Jackson could throw if they needed him to.
Moments later, Jackson was warming. Preparing to throw his “bullpen session” for the week in a game the Nationals knew was pivotal in expanding their National League East lead. If the Nationals didn’t win the game on Chad Tracy’s RBI-infield single in the bottom of the 13th inning, the 14th was Jackson’s.
“I wasn’t doing it for heroism,” Jackson said, baffled by the group of reporters who approached him after a game he didn’t even pitch in.
“But the bullpen was done. It was a game that we could possibly win. It’s definitely a game where they don’t want to throw position players. It’s not a give-away game. I guess I was the next best option to legitimately have a chance to win.”
Jackson acknowledged that if he was hurting he wouldn’t have said yes, but the fact that he did was a loud message to his teammates and manager about the kind of player they already knew he was. And for a player who’s been looking for long-term security for a while, it was a show of unity with his teammates that this might be where he’d like to find it.
“That was great evidence,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He had the option. We called down there and asked, ‘how does it feel? Is he OK?’ He was fine.”
“It’s no secret the rest of the games coming down the rest of the season (are big ones),” Jackson said, himself one of only a handful of Nationals players who’ve won a World Series. “Not necessarily must-wins but games that you want to win. We came out. We fought hard tonight. It was an old-fashioned battle. It was good that we could pull it off in our favor.”
– Ian Desmond had been waiting for his first hit since coming off the disabled list. He worked through an 0-for-11 series against the Mets but felt like his timing was getting that much closer with each at-bat he had against major league pitching for the first time since July 21.
In his first at-bat on Monday in the first inning, Desmond crushed home run No. 18 on the season over the visitors’ bullpen in left field. In doing so, he not only got the so-called monkey off his back with that first hit after a long layoff, but also set a new franchise record (Nationals/Expos) for home runs by a shortstop.
“It felt good,” Desmond said, the record-setting ball inscribed appropriately and waiting for him in his locker. “I had great (batting practice) today. I felt good and, you know, kind of excited to get back in the swing of things.”
Desmond’s power this year has been discussed at length, particularly as he led all MLB shortstops with extra-base hits before the All-Star break, and was part of why he earned his first selection to the All-Star team. But it’s worth noting that in his first two major league seasons, Desmond combined to hit 18 home runs and with 40 games left in 2012 he’s already reached that mark.