While Chicago Cubs backup catcher John Baker was fist-pumping his way back to the dugout after recording the first – and likely only – victory of his major league pitching career, starter Edwin Jackson was sitting back in the clubhouse amazed that he let his club get into this mess.
“As a starter you always want to go as deep as you can,” Jackson said early Wednesday morning after the Cubs defeated the Rockies 4-3 in 16 innings. “It’s been a tough stretch for me lately.”
Before becoming the longest game in Cubs history (6 hours, 27 minutes), Wrigley Field was looking like another forgettable few hours. At least Jackson’s outing would’ve had you convinced of as much.
If his 35 pitches weren’t problematic enough, Jackson was knocked around for three earned runs on three hits, while walking another in the first inning. After four innings, Jackson’s pitch count reached 105.
Jackson wanted to return for the fifth inning. Cubs manager Rick Renteria wouldn’t go for it.
“I definitely would’ve rather taken one for the team tonight than the bullpen have to come in,” Jackson said. “Regardless of the pitch count, I still felt strong.”
It marked the fifth time in 22 starts this season where Jackson did not make it past the fourth inning. Instead, his lack of control in the first few innings made him more hazardous than helpful. And even for a guy who tossed 149 pitches in a no-hitter during the 2010 season, putting that much stress on his arm seemed pointless with the game still undecided.
“It’s just frustrating when you feel nice, and you go out and continue to have outings like this,” Jackson said. “It seems like anything that can happen, does happen.”
Jackson escaping with a no-decision doesn’t do much to cover up any damage either. In 30 innings pitched this month, Jackson has given up 25 earned runs. Opponents are batting over .300 on him. He’ll enter August having earned just two victories since late May.
In more pressing matters, the Cubs bullpen maybe spent. Cubs’ relievers combined to throw 12 scoreless innings.
“They came in and did a great job,” Jackson said. “Unfortunately they had to come in that early.”