10/24/11 2:02 AM ET
Battling command, Jackson finally loses control
Two of righty's seven walks score after he exits in sixth inning
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
The formula he followed en route to becoming the first pitcher in D-backs history to throw a no-hitter would not suffice on this Sunday in October. Putting himself in much more trouble than the Rangers, themselves, created, Jackson couldn't wiggle out indefinitely. His Cardinals suffered a 4-0 loss that evened the World Series at two games apiece.
"With that many walks, it's just a matter of time before they catch up to you," Jackson said. "And they did."
TAKE YOUR BASE
The Rangers capitalized in the sixth inning, which turned out to be the tipping point in Game 4. Handed an opportunity to stake the Cardinals to a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven World Series, Jackson instead ended up shouldering the loss. He was charged with three of those runs.
And yet, through five innings, it appeared that Jackson's wildness was effectively keeping the Rangers in check.
After giving up an RBI double to Josh Hamilton, Jackson worked around a pair of first-inning walks to ensure that the early deficit didn't balloon.
He issued another pair of free passes in the fourth. Neither of those runners scored, either. In the fifth, Ian Kinsler didn't even get beyond first after drawing a leadoff walk.
In fact, of the first five walks Jackson issued, none was followed by a hit.
"At the end of the day, my mind frame is just keep the game close," said Jackson, who had walked just two in his first three postseason starts this month. "Whether it looked pretty or not -- just keep the game within striking distance, especially at this park."
Jackson was chased in the sixth, when the one-run hole morphed into a four-run deficit. After retiring the first batter of the inning, Jackson walked Nelson Cruz despite getting ahead, 1-2. He had the same count against David Murphy before walking him, too.
Jackson's night ended there, with 50 of his 109 pitches missing a strike zone that he suggested was, at times, tight. He did not pin the command issues on one particular pitch, saying that different pitches got him into trouble in different situations.
"He was trying not to give up and was trying to pitch," catcher Yadier Molina added. "He wasn't trying to give anything to those guys that they could hit."
Reliever Mitchell Boggs inherited the runners and immediately allowed both to score when he served up a first-pitch home run to Mike Napoli. That marred Jackson's pitching line, which included just three hits.
"He missed a few times, walked a couple guys, but he kept making pitches," manager Tony La Russa said of Jackson. "Overall I give him a huge plus for keeping us in the game."
The seven walks put Jackson in some unfortunate World Series company. He became just the third pitcher in the last 30 years to walk seven or more in a World Series game. Livan Hernandez, who walked eight in Game 5 of the 1997 Fall Classic, was the most recent.
Hernandez's night, however, ended with an 8-7 Marlins win.
For Jackson, the seven-walk night certainly did not end up like his previous two. His first came nine years ago in the third start of his career. Despite throwing an equal number of balls and strikes in that start against the Giants, Jackson worked around eight walks to pitch six scoreless innings.
He matched that walk total seven years later in a start that turned out to be the most memorable of his career. In that game against the Rays, he became just the fifth Major League pitchers to walk eight in a no-hit performance.
"Sometimes, you just have those games," Jackson said. "When you're not over the plate, you can't always expect to get those [close] pitches [called strikes]."
Jackson acknowledged the obvious afterward, too, which is that this could have been his last performance with the Cardinals. Set to be a free agent at the conclusion of the World Series, Jackson likely will not start another game in this series.
"You never know what's going to happen," Jackson said. "You never know -- there might be a time in Game 7 when I have to come out of the 'pen and pitch."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.