Jackson goes green with first two-steal game

ANAHEIM -- Austin Jackson is one of the few Tigers with a green light to steal a base at any time. Manager Jim Leyland reserves the right to put a stop sign on him, but rarely does. Thus, it seems odd that Friday marked just the second two-steal game of Jackson's career, and the first since his rookie season.

Call it an effort to get a sputtering Tigers offense going, or call it a flash of aggressiveness on the basepaths with baserunning consultant Jeff Cox in the crowd, but Jackson took advantage of Angels starter Tommy Hanson's struggles holding runners, and catcher Chris Iannetta's struggles throwing them out. Opponents are 11-for-11 stealing bases on Iannetta so far this season.

"We thought we had a shot, so we tried to take advantage of it," manager Jim Leyland said. "It worked out fine. To their credit, [Angels manager] Mike [Scioscia] called a pitchout on the one and he still beat it."

Jackson's first steal in the third inning came on a pitchout after a leadoff walk. It put Jackson in scoring position for Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Hanson opted not to intentionally walk Cabrera and instead retired the middle of the Tigers' lineup in order.

If Fielder's presence prompts opponents not to walk Cabrera, it could create more opportunities for Jackson to steal by removing the hesitation to leave first base open.

Jackson's last two-steal came on June 12, 2010, against the Pirates. Cabrera was still batting cleanup back then. Ryan Raburn hit third on that particular day. The Tigers had five two-steal games last year, three from Quintin Berry and two from Omar Infante.

Other Tigers with two-steal games in between Jackson's two-steal efforts: Brennan Boesch on Sept. 12, 2010, and Johnny Damon on June 27 of that same season.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.