Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Updated: 11:58 PM
By Brett Ballantini
DETROIT Edwin Jackson takes some strange routes to domination.
His no-hitters run 149 pitches and eight walks. His most stellar season came in the hitting-happy American League.
And his debut for the first-place Chicago White Sox came in the form of a nine-hit, seven-plus inning gem against his former teammates, the Detroit Tigers.
It was this latest bout of dominant pitching that pushed the White Sox to a 4-1 win over Detroit, taking the second of three games in this key, four-game intradivisional series.
He did a great job and threw strikes, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. I didnt know he threw that hard, and his command was outstanding.
I was just attacking the strike zone, making them put the ball in play, Jackson said. When you do that, the odds are in your favor as a pitcher. And the defense worked behind me.
Jackson was uncharacteristically pinpoint with his pitches on Wednesday, finishing with just one walk and zero wild pitches. For a pitcher averaging four free passes per nine innings and who had tossed a National League-leading 13 wild pitches with the Arizona Diamondbacks, thats a sure sign that White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper has immediately spun some magic.
Unmoved? Consider that until Jacksons final batter, Miguel Cabrera, no Detroit hitter worked Jackson to a single three-ball count, much less a walk.
It was my mistake letting him go out for the last inning, Guillen said. He was sitting down for too long, 20 minutes. I came out of my game plan for no reason. It wasnt a good move on my part. He couldnt find the plate. I take the blame for that one.
Despite otherwise owning the plate and drawing countless short at-bats from the Tigers, Jackson was in trouble in each of the first four innings, allowing nine total baserunners. But the righty proved elusive, leaving eight men on base in those first four innings.
The way he worked his rhythm and tempo and everything, it was really nice to see, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. As long as he throws strikes, hes going to be fine.
Chicago struck early on offense, as Juan Pierre led off the game with a single and then had his 500th career stolen base on a 3-1 count, but it was erased by Alex Rios drawing a walk on the pitch. With two on, Paul Konerko stroked a single to left, scoring Pierre.
The rest of the Chisox runs came courtesy of the long ball. The first, extending the Chicago 9s lead to 3-0, came courtesy of a Carlos Quentin missile to left in the fourth that plated Konerko as well. After the smash, the Twitterwaves were all aflutter, claiming the crack of the bat could be heard back to Chicago and all the way out to California.
Hes not far from getting back and getting very, very dangerous as a hitter, Guillen said. A couple of balls, he just barely missed. In a couple more days hes going to go back to where he was two weeks ago.
The final score came in the sixth inning, on a Konerko rocket down the left-field line.
After Jackson struggled with his control in the eighth, walking Cabrera on four pitches, he left the virus on the mound for reliever J.J. Putz to catch. Putz walked Brennan Boesch on four pitches, and after Jhonny Peralta lined out to Rios, Brandon Inge stroked a soft single to short right that triggered a bizarre chain reaction. Andruw Jones fielded the ball but fell on his throw home, where an unadvisedly aggressive Cabrera was barreling; Joness Wiffleball toss hit the pitchers mound, then ricocheted plateward to hit Cabrera as he scored. This being baseball and not kickball, the run counted, and the shutout dissipated.
That was all for Putz, who was rescued by bullpen BFF Matt Thornton. The ace lefty quickly extinguished pinch-hitters Ryan Raburn and Jeff Frazier.
In the ninth, Bobby Jenks came on for a dominating 1-2-3 save, his 23rd in 25 tries.
Jackson may only have been away from the AL Central for five months of baseball time, but after winning six games in the final two months of last season for the playoff-chasing Tigers, hes right back in the thick of thingsand on Wednesday, it was Detroit who was in the way.
We have faith in whoevers out there, said Pierzynski, who believed pitching against Detroit provided some extra excitement for Jackson. But you bring in a guy whos been an All-Star and won big games in the American League, it definitely is a plus.
Jackson disagreed with the backstops assessment of his pitching motivation on Wednesday, but that was the only way in which the pair failed to click for this perfect debut.
I didnt take any more satisfaction beating Detroit than winning the game, period, Jackson said. This is the pennant race. The key is to win every game. My job is going out every fifth day and giving our team a chance to win.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.