It’s hard to say, though, that a pitcher brought in for four years and $52 million could be having a more disappointing season. Jackson would agree after giving up seven runs (five earned) on 12 hits over 5 2/3 innings in Sunday’s 8-4 defeat to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“It’s probably one of the most frustrating seasons I’ve been through,” Jackson said after falling to 1-8 with a 6.29 ERA. “It’s just disappointing when you feel like you’re not going out and really helping the team with a chance to win the game. I’m a way better pitcher than what I have been showing.”
A dropped fly ball by centerfielder Julio Borbon in the second inning didn’t do Jackson any favors. Instead of two on with two outs, the Diamondbacks had the bases loaded. Gerardo Parra then singled home two runs with a Jackson wild pitch bringing home another and the Cubs’ early lead against Diamondbacks’ starter Patrick Corbin was gone.
Afterward, Cubs manager Dale Sveum was focused more on the error than Jackson’s performance.
“I think dropping a routine fly ball got things set in the wrong direction,” Sveum Said. “Obviously we still have to make pitches after that. But the bottom line is those things change outings; they change the course of a ballgame. He ended up an out away from having a pretty nice ballgame.”
Jackson appreciated the support. But he also knows that after the Cubs tied the game in the fifth inning on a two-run home run from Jerry Hairston, he turned right around and gave up another three runs in the sixth inning.
Jackson got two quick outs in the sixth, but four singles, a wild pitch and an intentional walk were his undoing.
“On a day that our team did a great job coming back, they did a great job of battling one of the best pitchers in the game right now, I did a terrible job of holding that game close enough for us to come back and win,” Jackson said. “Two quick outs in the sixth inning and you come up and give up four singles, back-to-back-to-back-to-back. I have to do a better job of executing pitches and keeping hitters off-balance.”
Brought in as an innings eater for $11 million per season (he also received an $8 million signing bonus), Jackson has eaten up more payroll than anything.
Here’s how it’s been for Jackson: When the Cubs were on their five-game winning streak last week, his start was rained out. That win streak ended Saturday, but instead of helping to get the Cubs back to their winning ways Sunday, they have now lost consecutive games.
The Cubs have made it clear to Jackson what they would like to see and he seemed to show it in a handful of innings early Tuesday before heavy rains washed out that game. Now that outing appears to be more about the White Sox’s anemic offense than anything Jackson was doing that night.
Sveum still saw something in that start worth repeating.
“As long as he comes out with conviction, throwing the ball like he did the other night, that's all you're looking for,” Sveum said before the game. “With that kind of stuff, if you go out with the conviction and the velocity he came out with against the White Sox, that's all you can ask for.”
Well, a little defense might not hurt, not to mention avoiding hits like the seeing-eye single Jason Kubel rolled through the right side against three infielders as the Cubs were employing the shift.
“It isn’t anything about confidence; I haven’t given up on confidence,” Jackson said. “I’ve been going out and not getting the job done. I’ve been through a lot of up-and-down seasons but this has definitely been a pretty frustrating season to say the least. And it’s shown in the stats and the numbers and everything.”