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 Austin Jackson's day got a little overlooked

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PostSubject: Austin Jackson's day got a little overlooked   Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:00 pm

Austin Jackson's day got a little overlooked
BECK'S BLOG
Posted on April 29, 2010 at 5:42 PM

By all means, Dontrelle Willis is the story of the game from Thursday, deservedly so. The Twins draw walks like crazy, and they can hit, and Willis didn't allow them to do much of either. Most of the run support he received, meanwhile, came from the rookie Willis has helped mentor since Spring Training.

Austin Jackson came into this series against the Twins earning more attention for his strikeouts than anything, having fanned in each of his first 19 Major League games. He did not strike out once in three games against the Twins. And his two hits off Carl Pavano in Thursday's series finale both led to runs.

Once Jackson led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, he had the green light to try to steal, but it wasn't an order to test Twins rookie backup catcher Drew Butera. He took off on the first pitch he saw from Pavano.

"That was me just going on my own," Jackson said. "I was picking up his times [to the plate], got a time that I felt comfortable stealing on, and it just worked out in our favor."

It worked out better than simply a stolen base. Butera one-hopped the throw, which skipped past second. Jackson didn't hesitate to try to take third, beating the throw in to give the Tigers an easy sacrifice fly opportunity for Johnny Damon. He converted it on the next pitch with a fly ball to left.

Jackson was on the other end of the RBI opportunity in the fifth, stepping to the plate with two outs and fellow rookie Scott Sizemore on second. He got a fastball over the middle of the plate and lined it into center field.

Jackson went 4-for-11 with two walks in the series. He scored four runs and reached base safely six times in 13 plate appearances. And as mentioned, no strikeouts.

"He's doing fine," manager Jim Leyland said. "But let's just take it easy. He's a young player, and that's the way it is. They're going to have their ups and downs."

Other notes ...

* Funny sometimes how pitchers struggle to regain their command after issuing an intentional walk. In the end, it wasn't really Pavano's intentional walk to Miguel Cabrera that came back to bite him for an insurance run in the eighth. Most managers would've done the same thing with Don Kelly on deck. But he paid for falling behind on a 2-0 count to Kelly, who did a good job waiting for his pitch to hit without getting excited or trying to blast it.

* Both Leyland and Willis said after the game that getting him into that relief outing at Texas, as rough of an inning as it was for him down there, was critical in helping him get in form for this outing. Willis was still working to get his strength back last Sunday from the stomach virus that left him unable to start the night before, but Leyland didn't want him going more than a week without facing live hitters. Willis said it made a difference.

* From the pay-it-forward department: Willis indicated Pavano was one of the veterans who helped him along when he broke into the big leagues with the 2003 Marlins. Helping out Jackson this year is his way of repaying that debt.

* Johnny Damon's 15-game hitting streak quietly came to an end Thursday. He still ended up with an RBI thanks to the sac fly.

* The Tigers held Joe Mauer to 1-for-11 this series, including a three-pitch strikeout by Joel Zumaya in a pinch-hit appearance Thursday. Asked about those numbers, Leyland said, "That will never happen again."


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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