Jackson delivers a thinking-man's outing

CHICAGO -- Edwin Jackson has the chance to become the Chicago White Sox’s resident master of mind games.

It wasn’t so much the Tampa Bay Rays that Jackson out-thought. His day started by psyching himself out with the 39-degree temperatures at first pitch.

Jackson paced the dugout wearing a T-shirt some two hours before the game started, exposing his bare arms to the elements. When somebody suggested he grab a jacket, he shrugged and asked why.

It was his first attempt at trying to make things as normal as possible. Jackson said Wednesday that he had never pitched in a home opener for any of the five teams he has played for so his next goal was to make sure he didn’t get wrapped up in the emotion of the day.

With those two challenges overcome, did the struggling Tampa Bay Rays really stand a chance?

When Jackson had reached 10 strikeouts in the fifth inning, it was the fifth time in his career he had a double-digit total in that category. He finished with a career high of 13, passing his previous high of 12.

"I had a lot of strikeouts with the sliders," Jackson said. "I was able to mix it up a little bit in the count, keep them off balance. You know, put them away when I had chances to."

He threw 120 pitches in just his second outing of the season, but that's nothing for Jackson. He threw 149 pitches during his no-hitter.

"He was throwing more strikes than he was in Cleveland," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think when he got ahead of the count his breaking ball was outstanding. It seemed like his velocity was a lot better too."

Jackson was in it emotionally until the very end, pumping his first when Johnny Damon flew out to the warning track in right field in the eighth inning. It was the last batter Jackson faced and at the time, the White Sox were holding a 3-1 lead.

"Baseball is a game of inches and one pitch can ruin a whole game," Jackson said. "When he hit that ball initially I did think it was gone. It was a great feeling to see [Brent] Lillibridge at the fence catching it for a last out. It was definitely exciting. Off the bat, I thought it was a home run."

Maybe in the summer that ball is gone. But on Thursday it was nice and chilly for Jackson.