A pump of the fist and a beaming smile. It's not what you'd expect to see from a rookie who has struck out in nearly half of his plate appearances. But that's exactly what Cubs fans witnessed from Brett Jackson on Friday afternoon while he rounded the bases after hitting a game-tying home run in the eighth inning.
"I think it's certainly a big challenge of baseball, you try not to dwell on the negative," Jackson said of his struggles. "I think we all like to say we stay positive all the time, but we're all human, we all get down. Two days ago when I struck out to end the game, you get down. But you move on, turn the page."
Scouts have always seen a lot of swing-and-miss in Jackson's game, but this season, both in the big leagues and during his time in the minors, the strikeouts have piled up at an alarming rate. Jackson has 30 strikeouts in 64 plate appearances with the Cubs and is scuffling with a .172 BA/.250 OBP/.345 SLG line on the season.
He finally earned a well-deserved celebration on Friday with his second career home run and his first in front of the home crowd at Wrigley.
"You hope so," manager Dale Sveum said when asked if this could be the start of something good for Jackson. "Those kind of hits off a really good set-up man (Matt Belisle) should build your confidence."
Jackson thought he'd accomplished the feat a few innings earlier when he drove one deep to left field in the fifth, but he just didn't quite get enough of it as Carlos Gonzalez caught it near the warning track. But for Jackson, something as small as putting good wood on the ball in back-to-back at-bats is a step in the right direction.
"I think the entire time I've been here it's been consistent progress," Jackson said. "I'm really enjoying the process of working with (hitting coach) James (Rowson) and Dale, they're really behind me. They understand it's a process and sometimes it'll take a while to really click. It comes with hard work and I've been putting it in the hard work every day, it's nice to get a good result."