Before Sunday’s game, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said starting pitcher Edwin Jackson needed to worry less about results and let his above-average fastball and sharp slider do the work.
“He's a stuff guy,” Sveum said before the game. “He's not really a pitcher. He's not going to sit there and paint [the corners], pitch down and away or do things like that. But his velocity and his hard slider at 86 to 88 is the stuff [that gets outs].”
Sveum didn’t mean the part about not being a pitcher literally, but Jackson hasn’t looked like much of one this season, and certainly not one worth $52 million over four years.
Jackson’s awful start to his first year as a Cub continued Sunday, with the right-hander giving up seven runs (five earned) on 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings as the Diamondbacks beat the Cubs 8-4 in front of 29,667 at Wrigley Field. Jackson also threw four wild pitches.
“It’s probably one of the most frustrating seasons I’ve been through,” Jackson said. “It’s just disappointing when you feel like you’re not going out and really helping the team with a chance to win the game. I’m a way better pitcher than what I have been showing. It isn’t anything about confidence. I haven’t given up on confidence.”
The Cubs (23-32) took a 1-0 lead in the first on Dioner Navarro’s bases-loaded walk, but Arizona scored three runs in the second. Two were unearned, as Julio Borbon took his eyes off a fly ball that he dropped.
“I think dropping a routine fly ball got things set in the wrong direction,” Sveum said. “Obviously we still have to make pitches after that. But the bottom line is those things change outings; they change the course of a ballgame. He ended up an out away from having a pretty nice ballgame.”
Jackson, though, had given up two straight hits before the error and followed it by surrendering another hit and a wild pitch, which scored a run. He also nearly threw a ball into center field on a force out saved by Starlin Castro at second.
Scott Hairston’s two-run homer off Arizona starter Patrick Corbin in the fifth tied the game at four, but the Diamondbacks (32-24), who took two of three in the series, again answered with three runs off Jackson. Paul Goldschmidt had a run-scoring single, and Cody Ross drove in two more with a single to oust Jackson, who was left in despite giving up three straight hits.
"He hasn't gotten any breaks,” Darwin Barney said of Jackson. “We had the shift on against [Jason] Kubel, and he hits the ball literally right between us. Stuff like that hasn't helped.”
Jackson’s ERA increased to 6.29. He was on his way to a strong outing in his last start Wednesday against the White Sox, but that game was canceled because of rain before it became official.
“It’s not necessarily trusting my stuff [that’s causing the problem],” Jackson said. “I felt good today, and I felt good the last few starts, but it’s a matter of going out and throwing quality strikes – not just strikes.”
That the Cubs managed four runs off Corbin, who is 9-0 with a 2.06 ERA, was a good sign for their offense.
"He's got good stuff,” Barney said. “But you look over his scouting report and a lot of time his breaking stuff leaves the zone … So being patient for that pitch out over the plate, I think we did better early against him."
Barney, who has been adjusting his swing constantly this season, went 2-for-3 with a double and hit the ball hard on his only out.
-- Hairston’s homer was the 100th of his career.
-- The Cubs had three extra-base hits Sunday and lead the National League with 187.
-- The Cubs have lost 18 games in which they led, tied for most in the NL with the Dodgers.
-- Corbin’s nine wins are the most in the majors.