7/11 Cubs 3, Cardinals 0
It’s been a crazy first half for Edwin Jackson, who seems to have found his groove. Jackson held the Cardinals to three hits over seven shutout innings to win his third straight start and Anthony Rizzo had two hits and three RBIs to lift the Cubs to a 3-0 victory Thursday.
The Cardinals boast the best record in baseball, but that didn’t seem to faze Jackson. The right-hander, who helped St. Louis win the World Series in 2011, struck out five and did not walk a batter. This was the first start this season in which he did not issue a walk, and the first time since Sept. 21 with the Nationals.
It was a good ending to what has been an inconsistent first half for Jackson, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal this offseason, his first long-term contract.
“Tonight, he was really sharp against the best offense in baseball,” manager Dale Sveum said of Jackson. “He had a lot more conviction with his pitches, and wasn’t worred about pitching as much as throwing. He pitched well tonight, had command, was hitting his spots, and had a really good slider. He got ahead, which I think was the biggest thing.”
After opening the season 3-10 with a 5.84 ERA in his first 15 starts, Jackson now is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last three outings. How do you eliminate slow starts?
“If you had the answer to those things, we’d be a heck of a lot richer,” Sveum said.
“This is probably the craziest start I’ve ever had in baseball,” Jackson said. “It’s a game of grinding it out and as long as you believe you have the confidence that you can come in and turn things around, that’s all that matters. No one expected me to start like I did — myself, the front office, the team, my manager. It’s a game, you have to keep grinding. You can sink or you can swim. I’m definitely one of those guys who won’t give up.”
He could have. Teams were batting .286 against him in those first 15 games, and were hitting .203 in his last three.
“I never did lose confidence, even in the bad starts I had,” Jackson said. “You just have to work harder to get back to where you want to be.”
— Carrie Muskat