Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson faced his former club, the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, for the first time on Monday night since being traded to Washington. It wasn’t a complete game shut it but it was pretty close. Jackson threw eight innings in an 8-1 game that ended in the Nationals’ favor to start out this three-game series.
The Nats 1-2 punch at the top of Manager Davey Johnson’s lineup came out of the gate strong to start. Outfielder Jayson Werth drew a walk off Jaime Garcia followed by a two-run laser of a homerun hit to the right field bullpen by rookie outfielder Bryce Harper in the first inning.
Washington maintained their lead for the game’s entirety and continued tacking on runs as they went, including a Werth solo homerun in the fifth. The Nats took advantage of Garcia’s exit in the sixth and went on to score a total of four runs in the sixth and seventh: Danny Espinosa scored on a Werth ground out off reliever Fernando Salas and Michael Morse scored on a Jesus Flores single off reliever Lance Lynn.
While the game could have been a shutout, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman let a throw to first base fly a little too high out of his hand as it sailed across the diamond to Adam LaRoche in the eighth. The toss went past LaRoche, over his head, accounting for the only error (charged to Zimmerman) of the night.
The biggest shocker of this series opener is that the Cardinals have one of baseballs (if not the best) offenses. So for Jackson to be able to shut them down the way he did over eight innings pitched and 123 pitches thrown (79 for strikes) is impressive – especially for his first time facing his former team.
Johnson mentioned after the game during his press conference that Jackson had all his hitting gear ready to go for a hitting opportunity late in the game. He wanted to go the distance like he had once earlier in the season. But Johnson knew after the amount of pitches thrown that Monday wouldn’t be the night for such a feat.
Jackson did go on to strike out ten and walk to after giving up one unearned run (due to the Zimmerman throwing error) and just four hits in eight innings. Monday was also a milestone night for Jackson. The game marks his seventh career double-digit strikeout game and his second this season alone. The other time in 2012 was August 18 versus the Mets. He struck out eleven.