CHICAGO – Edwin Jackson sat down in the interview room within the bowels of Wrigley Field and stared straight ahead, his eyes hardened.
The Cubs’ $52 million man couldn’t, and wouldn’t, brush off a third consecutive disappointing start. Jackson needed only two minutes in the dilapidated room after the Cubs’ 10-7 loss Sunday to the Giants in 10 innings to claim responsibility for his part of an ugly afternoon on the mound.
Jackson is still searching for his first win in a Cubs uniform, after failing to make it out of the sixth inning. He squandered a 4-1 first-inning lead built by two-run homers from Starlin Castro and Nate Schierholtz off Giants starter Tim Lincecum. But Jackson’s meltdown in the sixth – San Francisco scored four runs – quickly erased the Cubs’ advantage.
“First of all it’s inexcusable to let your team down like that where you’ve self-imploded in an inning like that, and not making adjustments to regain control of your pitches,” Jackson said. “I let a flaw pretty much detonate the inning and ruin the game. It’s definitely imperative that I make whatever adjustments needed to be made as soon as possible to regain control of the game.”
Jackson attributed his sudden lack of control in the sixth to a combination of problems, gripping the ball properly and bad mechanics. The results were disastrous. On top of the two leadoff walks he allowed to Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt, Jackson threw two wild pitches in the inning. One wild pitch advanced Pence into scoring position, with him eventually scoring on Gregor Blanco’s double, and the other brought home Belt to pull the Giants within a run, 4-3.
“There shouldn’t be something that I allow to affect an inning like that especially when the team’s done a good job,” Jackson said. “The guys bust their butts to get you a lead and it’s up to you to hold it. … It’s inexcusable. It’s something that I have to do. I can’t let the team down like that in one inning when they fought like that to get you a lead like that.”
Jackson’s start was bookended by two costly innings. He labored through the first and sixth innings, needing 28 pitches in each, although he was pulled after managing to record only one out through the first five batters he faced in the sixth. Jackson, who finished with 112 pitches, needed only 56 total pitches in the other four innings.
Manager Dale Sveum thought Jackson did a better job of mixing pitches after the first inning when 24 of 28 pitches thrown were fastballs. But, Sveum was still befuddled at how quickly Jackson lost control in the sixth.
“He settled down, found his slider, had his fastball and then all of the sudden completely lost his fastball,” Sveum said.
The Cubs’ pitching problems didn’t stop with Jackson. Reliever Mike Bowden, who entered with one out in the sixth, picked up where Jackson left off. Bowden threw three wild pitches, walked a batter and gave up the go-ahead hit in two-thirds of an inning for a blown save. The five wild pitches tied the record for wild pitches by a team in an inning.
Shawn Camp, one of the Cubs’ more reliable relievers, did nothing to reverse the trend of predominately rough outings Sunday. Pence’s solo homer off Camp on a 2-2 count with two outs in the ninth tied the score at 7. Camp also gave up three runs in the 10th, including the game-winner on a balk, to take the loss.
Another late-inning debacle has forced Sveum to again re-evaluate his options in the ninth, which soon may include Carlos Marmol, who Sveum said has earned the consideration after three straight scoreless outings.
Get ready for Marmol Time, Cubs fans.
• Meghan Montemurro covers the White Sox and Cubs for Shaw Media. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Payoff Pitch blog at NWHerald.com and on Twitter@Sox_Insider and @InsideTheCubs.