So that Edwin Jackson signing is looking pretty good these days.
The veteran right-hander generated an almost endless string of ground ball outs, going eight-plus innings to lead the Washington Nationals to a 6-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, before a crowd of 18,513 at Skydome. Jackson, one of the league leaders in pitch economy, threw 108 in his eight innings, allowing just three hits and three walks, striking out three.
The Nats have won four straight and six of seven and lead the N.L. East by three games over the Atlanta Braves at 36-23.
Jackson cruised most of the night, using his fastball to set up a particularly nasty slider, getting the Blue Jays hitters to pound the ball into the Skydome turf. Jackson recorded 13 ground ball outs and seven fly balls. He gave up a solo home run to Colby Rasmus in the first inning, then a leadoff double in the ninth to Edwin Encarnacion, who scored two batters later on a bomb from rookie Yan Gomes off reliever Sean Burnett.
Other than that, it was smooth sailing.
After he completed the eighth inning, television cameras caught the hurler shaking his head back-and-forth as he left the field, presumably at manager Davey Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty about leaving the ballgame. Johnson eventually came out to give Jackson the hook after the leadoff double in the ninth, and after his teammates congratulated him, Jackson had an exchange with Johnson as if to say, “Thanks for sticking with me.”
Jackson was backed by a virtual hit parade as the nats pounded out 14 hits, including multi-hit games from Steve Lombardozzi (2-for-5, 2 runs), Bryce Harper (3-for-4, 2 runs, RBI), Adam LaRoche (2-for-5, home run (11), 2 RBIs) and Ian Desmond (2-for-5, RBI).
Rick Ankiel added a solo shot in the eighth inning as insurance.
The Nats got out quickly in the first inning, as Lombardozzi doubled to leadoff the game against Jays starter Brandon Morrow. But facing Harper, Morrow felt something in his side and was forced from the game. Though he threw only nine pitches Morrow ended up the losing pitcher, as Harper singled to right off reliever Chad Beck, and later scored himself on Michael Morse’s sacrifice fly.
The Nats also lost outfielder Roger Bernadina, who was injured in the fourth inning going first to third on a wild pitch.
THE GOOD: Jackson. He doesn’t look like he’s working hard out there, but his slider was just terrific last night, coaxing ground ball after ground ball. It’s good to see Adam LaRoche driving the ball again too. His homer was an upper-deck shot.
THE BAD: Ryan Zimmerman went 1-for-5 and had a very tough error on a short hop ground ball. He’s hitting .244.
THE UGLY: Morrow taking the loss. Seriously, that’s all you need to know about the validity of judging a pitcher on wins and losses.
THE STATS: 14 hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. 4-for-18 with RISP, 9 LOB, 1 GISP. E: Zimmerman.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday at Toronto at 7:-7 pm. Chien-Ming Wang (1-2, 5.11) faces Henderson Alvarez (3-5, 3.76).