Jackson's patient approach cutting down K's

Jackson's patient approach cutting down K's

Jackson's patient approach cutting down K's
DETROIT -- Austin Jackson doesn't remember his last strikeout, but he tries not to think about them. Fans probably don't remember Jackson's last strikeout either, and that would be understandable.

The last time Austin Jackson struck out was Aug. 11 against the Indians' Fausto Carmona in Cleveland. Since then, Jackson has gone eight games without a punchout, doubling his previous career long.

The streak saw Jackson fall to eighth in the Majors in strikeouts. Last season, Jackson led the American League with 170 strikeouts. He's at 128 this year, on a pace to finish at 165.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland pointed to Jackson's recent attention on bunting for hits as help for his focus.

"I think whenever you work on bunting, it helps you track the ball better and your concentration is better," Leyland said.

Leyland used former Pirates infielder Jay Bell as an example of how bunting helped decrease strikeouts. Bell led the National League in sacrifice bunts in 1990 and '91 while batting second in the lineup under Leyland and he had about 100 strikeouts each of those seasons.

"I did it for a reason: because he struck out a lot and I wanted him to learn how to track the ball, and at one point in his career, he hit [38] home runs," Leyland said.

Power isn't part of Jackson's game, but the hope is the concentration from bunting will continue to help Jackson put the ball in play more often.

A big improvement for Jackson has been in two-strike counts. In the last eight games, Jackson has had just 12 two-strike counts and is 4-for-11 (.364) with a sacrifice fly in those situations. On the season, his average with two strikes is .159.

"I definitely feel more relaxed," Jackson said. "I'm just trying to be patient and take my at-bat and try to use it as my time and not go up there and let the pitcher dictate how long that at-bat is going to be."