Strategy backfires on D-backs, Jackson
Intentional pass ahead of Manny results in three-run swing
PHOENIX - Edwin Jackson tried to pull a fast one past an old joker Wednesday night at Chase Field, and in the end, nobody in the D-backs clubhouse was laughing.
The D-backs starter cruised through six innings but gave up a bases-clearing double in a crucial at-bat to Manny Ramirez in the seventh to blow the game open in a 6-3 loss to the Dodgers.
"I feel like I let the team down because we were in a position to get the job done, but I didn't get the job done," a stone-faced Jackson said. "It was supposed to be a fastball up."
After the game, much of the discussion centered on the decision by D-backs manager A.J. Hinch to intentionally walk Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier to load the bases for Ramirez. The Dodgers led, 3-2, when Ramirez strolled to the plate and 6-2 when the at-bat was finished.
"It's a difficult call, a tough call, and the way it turns out, obviously, it's a bad call," Hinch said. "Two of the hottest hitters in the league with all of the money on the table. Unfortunately, we'll never know if we go the other way how that plays out."
Here's what's certain: The D-backs have lost a season-high six consecutive games.
"It's a tough one," Hinch said. "The way it turned out, it's the toughest one to deal with as a team and the toughest one for me to internalize. It will be one to remember."
It's one Jackson will want to forget despite a fast start. The right-hander retired the first six batters he faced before giving up a single to Blake DeWitt to lead off the third. He recovered quickly, retiring the next three hitters -- Jamey Carroll, Hiroki Kuroda and Russell Martin -- to complete three innings at the 40-pitch mark.
Jackson's 42nd pitch was a 95 mph fastball that Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp lined into right field for a single to lead off the fourth. His 43rd pitch ended up in the left-field stands after Phoenix native Ethier launched Jackson's 95 mph delivery over the wall for a 2-0 lead.
The D-backs answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth on a double by first baseman Adam LaRoche to tie the score at 2.
The tie would not last.
Carroll walked to lead off the fifth and stole second. He motored home on a single to left field by Kemp to push the Dodgers ahead, 3-2. Kemp's hit came -- you guessed it -- on a 96 mph fastball.
Jackson also threw changeups and sliders in the loss.
"I like how aggressive [Jackson] has been," Hinch said. "It's two outings in a row that he has been real aggressive with his fastball. He's not backing down at all, he's not easing into his outings and his tempo is getting a little bit better. The last inning hurt him tonight, but, overall, he did fine."
Fine but not good enough. Jackson's scoreless sixth gave way to an eventful seventh that changed the contest. It started with another walk to Carroll, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kuroda, and continued with another single by Martin. Martin stole second on Kemp's strikeout, leaving first base open and putting the decision of the game on Hinch's shoulders.
The verdict came quickly. Jackson intentionally walked Ethier, who leads the Majors or the National League in several offensive categories, to load the bases for Ramirez.
"I think it's the first time that's happened in the two years he's been here," Ethier said. "You get the guy's juices flowing and gets him dialed in and he got the job done."
Jackson also appeared on the mark, at least early in the count. He went ahead 0-2 on Ramirez on two high fastballs that sizzled over the plate at 95 and 96 mph. Jackson's third pitch -- a 94 mph fastball -- caught most of the plate and Ramirez made him pay for it with a double that put the Dodgers ahead by four runs.
Then the second-guessing began.
"Edwin had worked so hard to get in that position and I trusted him and I thought it was his at-bat to get," Hinch said. "Of the two hitters, I made the decision. A lot things can happen with the bases loaded."
Following the double, Jackson was replaced by Aaron Heilman after throwing a season-high 121 pitches and racking up a season-high eight strikeouts. The lesson he took home after the loss, his fifth defeat this season, was a familiar one.
"Execute pitches," Jackson said.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.