Earlier this season, Edwin Jackson pitched a complete game, allowing just one run. He then struck out eight and allowed just one run in eight innings against the Orioles in late June and threw seven shutout innings against the Brewers last month.
But in Davey Johnson’s mind, tonight was as good as Jackson has been all season.
“That was probably the most dominant I’ve seen him pitch,” Johnson said. “He had outstanding stuff. Breaking stuff, his fastball was dropping off the table and had a lot of life and movement. Got one pitch (that) didn’t do much out over the plate, and (Ike) Davis crushed it. But great ballgame.
“His stuff was so electric, he was overmatching them.”
Jackson struck out a season-high 11 hitters and surrendered just two hits over seven innings tonight. He didn’t allow a hit from innings two to six and struck out 10 of 16 hitters in one span. It was Davis’ two-run homer in the seventh which was the lone blemish on the outing for Jackson.
What was working for the veteran tonight? How about everything.
“He had a good slider. He had a good curveball,” Johnson said. “His best pitch was a moving fastball that he was throwing hard. It was a better sinker than I’ve seen all year long. Good left-handed hitters, contact hitters, were swinging right over it.”
Unfortunately for Jackson and the Nationals, Jackson was just barely outpitched by Mets starter Jon Niese, who tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed just five hits.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to Niese,” Johnson said. “He had this big, sweeping cutter he was using. Guys, they felt like he kind of came up with a new pitch and they had a hard time centering on it. He pitched a heck of a ballgame.
“He just really made some pitches when it counted, and it was a dominant game. I like him, and I liked him before this game, but some good fastball hitters in (our) lineup just couldn’t center on him and were tardy. He used both sides of the plate, he was backing ‘em in on the outside and on the inside ... just a heck of a ballgame.”
The Nats looked like they might’ve been getting a rally going in the bottom of the ninth when Ryan Zimmerman lifted a long fly ball into the right-field corner leading off the inning. Mets right fielder Mike Baxter made a tough grab just before reaching the wall, robbing Zimmerman of extra bases.
Given the way Mets closer Frank Francisco has struggled this season and the fact that Michael Morse, Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond were due up behind Zimmerman, that could’ve gotten a comeback started had the ball dropped in.
“One little thing like that could’ve broke the dam,” Johnson said. “I don’t even know how he got to it. Their bullpen and their closer especially has had some problems, so a little bit of momentum there would have helped.”