Throwing fastballs clocked as high as 98 mph, Jackson struck out Bobby Abreu(notes), Vladimir Guerrero(notes) and Torii Hunter(notes) to complete a four-hitter in Detroit’s 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
“It was the end of the game, and I was going to leave everything on the field,” he said. “I knew it was my game to win, and it was only 2-1, so I couldn’t make any mistakes against those three hitters. It felt great.”
Jackson (6-3) improved to 5-1 with a minuscule 0.76 ERA in his last six starts. He struck out five and walked one, throwing 109 pitches as Detroit snapped a four-game skid.
“That kid has always had a great arm, but he found another gear tonight, the way he finished that game,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “In his last handful of starts, he’s been as good as any pitcher in the game.”
Over the last month, Jackson and teammate Justin Verlander(notes) have been lights out. Verlander, who is 6-0 in his last eight outings, threw eight shutout innings but didn’t get a decision in Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Angels.
“Those two aren’t going to be perfect every time, but we know we’re probably going to get some good innings from them,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We’ve got a tough stretch coming up—the Angels tomorrow and then five games in Chicago in four nights, so this was big, because we’ve only needed one inning from our bullpen in two days.”
“We’re excited about the way he looked tonight,” Scioscia said. “He got behind in the count too many times, because he didn’t have his best command, but he had a lot of pitches working tonight.”
A night after the teams scored all of their runs in the ninth inning, there was no scoring after the first—something that remains a concern for Leyland.
“The pitching was great tonight, but we have to get some runs,” he said. “We still aren’t swinging the bats well.”
The Tigers had a chance to add to their lead in the seventh when Josh Anderson(notes) led off with a single against Darren Oliver(notes) and took second on Polanco’s sacrifice. Thomas then bunted for a hit, putting runners on the corners, but Ordonez hit into a double play.
The Tigers optioned 1B Jeff Larish(notes) to Triple-A Toledo after the game and activated OF Marcus Thames(notes) from the disabled list. Thames has been sidelined since April 18 with a rib-cage strain. … Angels reliever Jason Bulger(notes) hit the backstop with a 1-2 pitch that sailed over the head of Brandon Inge(notes) in the sixth inning. On the next pitch, Inge’s foul tip hit plate umpire Tom Hallion on the right bicep, causing a short delay while he was attended to by the Tigers training staff. … Abreu’s first-inning double was the 1,999th hit of his career. He went 1 for 4. … Escobar was the Angels’ 11th starting pitcher this season, their most since they used 16 in 2000.