In a heartbreaking 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, Jackson’s no decision might have been literally lost in the shuffle.
It should not be.
Instead, it might be his biggest and most important no-decision of the season for the Nationals.
Jackson went eight strong innings, allowing a solo homer to Jonathan Lucroy but virtually nothing else. He walked none, struck out six and gave up only five other hits.
Even more importantly, he showed that he might be back after a couple of rough starts.
“The thing for me was just trying to come back,” Jackson said. “The last few starts, I didn’t feel like I helped the team. I want to pitch better and go deeper into the games. I haven’t been able to do that the last few starts. Today was definitely a day that I felt like it was up to me to take charge in what we were trying to do.”
Jackson had allowed at least four runs in three straight starts. In those three games, he was never able to complete the sixth inning.
Jackson’s eight innings Friday were his longest start since his Aug. 30 gem against the Cardinals, a dominating 8-1 victory.
“He was great,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He started the game a little bit up, hung the slider to Lucroy. But after that, he got back down and he was great. It was a great outing.”
And if Friday’s effort is any indication of what the Nationals can expect from Jackson in the postseason, they will be in good hands.
Said Johnson: “He had that kind of postseason demeanor about him today.”
Jackson said his experience in big games will help the Nationals and he can share his experience with some of the guys who haven’t been there before.
“It definitely helps,” Jackson said. “You kind have to slow the games down a little bit. When you are playing games as meaningful like this, it can speed up on you real quick. To go out there and slow it down is big. It definitely helps when you have been in the situation before.”
But Jackson desperately wanted to show his teammates he could pitch well in a big game and not just talk about it. And after a couple of shaky starts, was eager to get back to his dominating self on the mound. In eight innings Friday, he felt like he did.
“I felt like I owed it to the team to come out and lead by example for the pitchers that we have,” Jackson said. “It is a great group. Instead of just giving information you want to show it as well.”