3-2 count. Fastball low, walk.
Tough to allow a baserunner in any situation, but having it be the Orioles’ leadoff hitter, Xavier Avery, on the first at-bat of the game proved more costly in a tight contest.
Avery was able to come around to score the first run of the game, thanks to a double by Nick Markakis and a single from Adam Jones.
But really, it was only 1-0 Orioles.
In the end, however, the Orioles beat the Nationals 2-1 in 11 innings on a Markakis homer.
But when he was in, it was amazing to think that one run was all Nationals right-handed starter Edwin Jackson allowed.
“It definitely felt good tonight,” Jackson said. “Especially after the first inning, you walk the first batter and he ends up scoring. I wasn’t too happy with that. But (catcher Jesus) Flores and I were able to get into a nice groove and pound the strike zone and make the hitters put the ball in play.”
Jackson said the Orioles’ hitters did not make it easy. He had to reach back and switch up the way he and Flores went after the hitters because they swung so well.
“Tonight it was a little bit of everything,” Jackson said. “We had to mix it up real well. These guys out here, they can hit. It is a great group. Tonight it was an old-fashioned country battle. It was well-played baseball on both ends. Nobody gave up. We end up losing the game, but we fought hard out there tonight.”
Jackson surrendered that one run in eight innings Friday, turning in one of his most consistent performances since the complete-game gem against the Reds on April 14. That was his only victory of the season to date.
“That was a tough one,” manager Davey Johnson said. “That was a shame to waste such a great pitching effort by Jackson. He pitched outstanding. Jackson was unbelievable. He was awful good, and he still had something left.”
For Jackson, it was only the third time in his eight starts that he allowed one or fewer runs. Jackson did not allow the Padres a run on April 26 at Petco Park.
“I was just able to come out and locate pitches when I needed to,” Jackson said. “Having great defense behind you, it always makes the game a little easier. You can come out and attack hitters and look forward to having great plays made behind you and they did that tonight.”
But you can bet to a man, Jackson would trade all those outstanding pitching efforts for a team win. The Nats are now just 2-6 in games Jackson starts. The Nats have scored four runs or more in exactly half of those starts.
“Like I said 1,000 times, offense comes and goes,” Jackson said. “More times than not, if we keep pitching the way we are pitching, we will win more games. These guys in here, they practice real hard, and everybody is having the best (at-bats) they can. We will pick it up. We are not worried about the offense. As long as we keep up the pitching and defense, the offense will come around.”
Now, just like with Jordan Zimmermann, the offense needs to help Jackson out a bit. That theme is repeating itself more than the Nationals would like this early in the campaign.