This being the Year of the Pitcher, though, anything was possible.
Jackson made it happen, all right, throwing a whopping 149 pitches—the most in the majors in five years—leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 1-0 victory Friday night over his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays.
“It’s one of those moments where you’re just caught up in the moment. It’s one of the craziest games I’ve had, especially the game starting off how it did. Not being able to find the strike zone with the fastball,” Jackson said. “Good thing I could throw the slider for strikes in any count. It just resurrected my game.”
Jackson (5-6) walked eight, all but one in the first three innings, but the Rays still were no-hit for the third time since last July, including Dallas Braden’s(notes) perfect game at Oakland on May 9.
Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) no-hit Atlanta on April 17 and Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay(notes) tossed a perfect game at Florida on May 29. Armando Galarraga(notes) lost his perfect game with two outs in the ninth on a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce.
Jackson improved his career record to 43-45 in eight seasons. He was an All-Star last year for Detroit before being traded to Arizona in the offseason in a three-team trade with the Yankees that included Curtis Granderson(notes).
“That’s quite an accomplishment against a really good team,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said after the Tigers beat the Braves.
Jackson was hit with a pie in the face by a teammate as he was doing an on-field interview.
“It was definitely a great feeling, especially after those first few innings. … After the fifth I looked up and said ‘Wow’ there’s no hits.”’ Jackson said.
“It’s one of those bittersweet moments. You throw a no hitter and it’s against your old team,” Jackson added. “At least it’s with a crowd that you’ve had accomplishment with and you can do in front of someone who will appreciate it.”
The crowd of 18,918 stood and applauded the first no-hitter at Tropicana Field in the relatively short history of the Rays, who like the Diamondbacks began play in 1998.
“He’s a great athlete and a great kid. He’s one of the very few who can do that,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said, noting Jackson’s ability to continue to pitch well despite a high pitch count.
“He threw 150 pitches and it’s rare to see that many walks and not score a run,” Maddon added. “Our guys are just pressing too hard.”
Jackson walked the bases loaded in the third but was bailed out by a stellar play by third baseman Mark Reynolds(notes), who spun around to throw out Ben Zobrist(notes) at home plate. Hank Blalock(notes) then grounded out to end the inning.
Reynolds made another big play on a sharp line drive by Bartlett in the seventh. Earlier in the at-bat Bartlett hit a dribbler that hung close to the third base line before rolling foul in front of the bag.
Jackson was so wild and the pitch count unusually high that the Diamondbacks had relievers warming up from the sixth inning on.
“All’s well that ends well. We stopped counting at about 115,” Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said. “You do want to make smart decisions. You do have a chance at history and you don’t want to take it away from him.”
Jackson pitched for the Rays from 2006-08. His only other shutout in 126 career starts came for Tampa Bay in 2007.
“To be able to come back and give the crowd I used to play for something to see. Today is just a special day. Something I’ll never forget,” Jackson said.
Niemann gave up six hits, struck out eight and walked two in 7 1-3 innings. He retired nine straight at one point—Jackson’s best was 10 in a row.
It was the 25th 1-0 game of the season, according to STATS.
“For him it’s a great personal accomplishment. But for us … it’s not fun,” Niemann said. “I don’t want to see anyone do that against us, and I don’t think anyone else does either.”
The performance by Jackson, who helped Tampa Bay make an unlikely run to the World Series two years ago, overshadowed the first meeting between brothers B.J. and Justin Upton(notes), who despite being relatively close in age had never competed with or against each other at any level before Friday.
The Uptons are one of nine sets of brothers who have played in the majors this season. About 65 relatives and friends are in town for the series, and mother, Yvonne, wore a jersey bearing the names and numbers of both above the notation: “my sons.”
Hinch joked with Justin before the game that he was tempted to post a mock lineup that didn’t include the right fielder.
“I said, ‘would have you been in here”’ to protest, “and he said: `My mother would have been in here.”’
NOTES: Crawford was out of the lineup with a sore throwing shoulder. … Hinch confirmed Arizona had given the Florida Marlins permission to talk with 3B coach Bo Porter about their open managerial opening.