Edwin Jackson had thrown a complete game before. He’d actually thrown four of them, including a no-hitter.
But never had he been nearly this pitch-efficient when going a full nine innings.
Jackson finished today’s outing having thrown just 92 pitches in his nine frames of one-run ball, a far cry from his 149-pitch no-hitter back in 2010. Known for elevated pitch counts and having to work with runners on base, Jackson was a different guy today.
He was able to pitch from the windup nearly the entire day today, as he allowed just two hits and a walk.
“There’s been a couple times (I was this efficient), but they never did go complete games,” Jackson said. “I mean I have a couple complete games, but they might be 110, 115 (pitches). To be under 100 and go a complete game, it definitely feels good. I just pitched to contact. I got a lot of early outs early on in the game. There weren’t a lot of strikeouts until later on in the game so it helps when you can come out and get ahead and get early contact.”
Jackson’s effort today made him just the second Nationals pitcher to allow two or fewer hits in a complete-game win, joining Pedro Astacio, who allowed two hits in a 5-0 win over the Braves in August 2006.
But despite the lack of hits and low pitch count, Jackson said he didn’t feel like his stuff was as sharp today as it’s been in previous outings. He was just able to pound the zone and quickly pile up outs.
“It’s not necessarily the best I’ve felt, but it’s all mental,” Jackson said. “Just go out and pitch the game. Try to help the team out as much as possible. We had great offense today. Once we did get the lead back, I just told myself to keep it there.”
With the Nationals’ bullpen having to work six innings last night and three innings the day before, Jackson gave the relievers a much-needed break today.
“After a game like last night, it’s always important for the starter to come and go as long as he can to help those guys who are going to be there for you at the end of the year,” Jackson said. “A game like today, definitely was able to give them a rest so they’ll be good and fresh for tomorrow.”
Making his first start as a National in front of the home crowd, Jackson got multiple standing ovations, including one when he came up to hit in the bottom of the eighth, indicating manager Davey Johnson was going to leave him in for the ninth to try and finish off the complete game, and another when he hopped out of the dugout to begin his last inning of work.
“Definitely instant adrenaline,” Jackson said. “When you come out for the ninth and you have everyone ecstatic, you definitely want to come out and finish the game for the fans’ sake. They were able to come out and catch a great game today all around. A total team effort.”