MILWAUKEE -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson and manager Dale Sveum had words in the Cubs' dugout after Sveum pinch hit for the pitcher in the top of the fifth inning with the Cubs trailing 2-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers Monday night.
“Everyone wants to stay in the game,” Jackson said after the 6-1 defeat. “The whole staff wants to stay in the game. I was ready to battle, but he made his decision that he wanted to pinch hit.”
With a man on third, Sveum said he wanted to get a run home, and, after Jackson made 76 pitches over four innings, he felt like pulling the pitcher was the way to go. Jackson just didn’t see it that way.
“I don’t have any problem with him. I’m sure he doesn’t have a problem with me,” Jackson said. “It’s something that happened. It’s not a big deal. It might be made more of a big deal than it really is.”
After losing his 16th game of the season, maybe it’s a wonder Jackson hasn’t lost his cool before. Or Sveum, with his pitcher, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal only to get off to a horrendous start in April. He’s battled back to some form of mediocrity, but his ERA still stands at 4.75 with two weeks left in the season.
“You respect that about players wanting to stay in the game,” Sveum said.
Maybe it was a little unusual to pull a pitcher who’s given up just two runs over four innings. After all, Jackson has had much worse outings and pitched longer into games. But with a larger bullpen since rosters expanded Sept. 1, it’s easier for managers to pull the trigger on their starters. And Jackson has mostly made it difficult on Sveum all season by underachieving on the mound.
“You don’t want confrontation, especially in the dugout," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “You want that to happen behind the scenes, if at all.
“It’s a competitor’s game. That’s what both people were doing. They were competing.”
Considering how awful the past two seasons have gone for the Cubs, the surprise might be that more haven’t lost their cool. But everyone knows the Cubs' situation, including Jackson and Sveum.
“It happens,” Jackson said. “I was caught off guard a little bit. He’s the manager. He can make the calls whenever he feels like he needs to No grudges or anything like that.”
So both sides will move on because getting caught up in loss No. 16 -- for Jackson -- and loss No. 87 -- for Sveum -- isn’t productive for anyone.
“It could have been handled differently,” Rizzo said. “I know every pitcher in this game is competitive It's the end of the season. Emotions are high. Keep battling.”
That’s all the Cubs can do: Keep battling. Sometimes, it might be with each other because, most of the time, it hasn’t been with the opposition.