SARASOTA, Fla. — Edwin Jackson came out of his 3 2/3 inning outing on Saturday — an outing in which he allowed 10 runs (seven earned) off 11 hits, two walks (one with the bases loaded) and four strikeouts — with one prevailing message: Spring training is never his best time of year.
“I’ve never had good spring trainings,” Jackson said after an Orioles’ barrage that featured four runs in the third and five more in the fourth. “Games like this don’t affect my confidence. When we get ready to play, I’ll have just as much confidence in myself.”
Jackson is right. In the last two years he’s come out of spring training with an ERA no lower than 5.32.
He struggled with his location on Saturday, leaving an awful lot of pitches up in the third and the fourth. He looked dominant in the second inning, but that was a footnote to the struggle he had in the later innings.
“Obviously he wasn’t hitting his spots,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. “His location wasn’t very good at all. But he got his work in… Not the way you want it in. But he got it in.”
Here’s a bit more from Jackson on the outing:
On his thoughts on the start overall: “Initially I started off knowing exactly what I wanted to do: Make them put the ball in play. The last inning, some balls I left up that they hit pretty good. Aside from the two walks, everything else I did according to plan. Go out, be aggressive and make them put the ball in play.
“I have a lot of confidence in myself. When we start playing, I’ll be ready to go for sure. Of course, it’s always good to go out and be lights out in spring training. But sometimes it doesn’t happen like that. You go out and continue to feel better and you make pitches as you come along. These games, as far as numbers, the only thing I don’t like is if I have games where I’m walking. Other than that, I can handle being hit around. That’s the objective: Make them put the ball in play. I’ll definitely take my chances being hit around like that than walking people and then get hit around. I like the odds in my favor.”
On if he was concerned with anything: “The main thing is controlling the situation. When things start to speed up, not speeding up, just slow it down and control the game.”
On if he struggled with that Saturday: “Just in that one inning (the fourth). The other innings, before the home run, every hit they had soft single to left field, a lot of stuff was on the ground. It is what it is. But the last inning I left a couple balls up and the two walks. Pretty much the two walks is the only thing that I take away from it. The rest of it, they hit the ball, I left a couple balls up. But I felt good. I felt like pretty much I was making them put the ball in play. Just a couple balls left up.”
On if the aggressive tact hitters are taking this spring is surprising: “Yeah, everybody’s going out and trying to get ready. There’s a couple of weeks left. When they see pitches in the zone, they’re definitely hacking.”