Five days after Jackson needed 115 pitches to get through four innings at Cleveland, he didn't even need that many pitches to get into the ninth inning Wednesday.
"He's just got command and he's throwing 98 [mph] with three other pitches for strikes," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "He's got four pitches that are all power."
He used pretty much all of them Wednesday. If Jackson's last outing prompted worry in Detroit that the All-Star right-hander might be running out of gas down the stretch, Jackson had a curveball for them. Or more accurately, he had a heavy dose of power sliders and some changeups mixed in with his fastballs. And in the end, he had much the same outing as he posted May 31 at Camden Yards, where he blanked the Orioles on two hits over eight innings.
That was part of the difference between the 28 pitches Indians hitters fouled off over four innings Friday and the 17 swings and misses he had Wednesday. It was a dual effort between Jackson and Gerald Laird to read what Baltimore hitters were doing the last couple nights.
"This team is really aggressive," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "and I thought he mixed in some other pitches for the first pitch to get them off their game plan a little bit. You could see this team's game plan is to go right at you and be aggressive on that first fastball they see. You can see that, and they're good at it. They're a good offense. That's a job to shut down that offense. That's a very good offense, a lot of versatility."
Jackson's eight strikeouts fell one short of a season high, and all of them came on swings and misses. More than a couple came on pitches other than fastballs.
After Brian Roberts led off the game by grounding out on a changeup, Jackson sent down Nolan Reimold swinging at a slider and ended a seven-pitch battle with Nick Markakis with a changeup.
Aubrey Huff went down swinging in the second and fourth. Tigers killer Luke Scott swung and missed at the slider in the fourth and a 97-mph heater in the seventh on Jackson's 104th pitch of the night.
"Gerald and I were doing this great job of mixing up pitches tonight and just keeping them off balance," Jackson said, "so they can't really just sit on one thing."
"Gerald and I were doing this great job of mixing up pitches tonight and just keeping them off balance so they can't really just sit on one thing."
-- Edwin Jackson, on he and catcher Gerald Laird
Neither of the two hits Jackson allowed through eight innings was well struck. Adam Jones hit a first-inning infield blooper that first baseman Miguel Cabrera ran down as if to catch but then let bounce. Six innings later, Markakis' blooper into left gave the O's a leadoff single before Jackson kept him at first.
At that point, Jackson was sitting on a 1-0 lead. Magglio Ordonez pounced on a Jeremy Guthrie fastball in the fifth and turned on it for a line drive over the left-field fence. His sixth home run of the season was his first since July 21.
Ordonez, now 6-for-10 lifetime against Guthrie (7-11), had two of Detroit's six hits against him. Once Brandon Inge and Adam Everett singled off Guthrie to fuel a three-run eighth, Jackson had a better cushion.
Leyland had decided before those runs that Jackson would get a chance at the complete-game shutout. But the longer the Tigers hit in the eighth inning, the more he wondered about it.
"If we had made three quick outs, I think he'd been fine," Leyland said. "But I think the fact that he sat over there so long, I think I should've taken him out. But he's one of our horses. He had a two-hit shutout [at the time]. That's hard to do."
Jackson said the time on the bench had nothing to do with his pitches in the ninth. If anything, he was glad to have those extra runs once he hit Reimold on his first pitch and gave up Jones' two-run homer four pitches later.
By the end, the big pitch was up to Rodney, whose two-out walk to Scott moved the potential tying run into scoring position for Zaun. The O's catcher barely got a 2-1 pitch foul for strike two, then he held off on a checked swing to run the count full.
With runners going, Rodney went back to his heater and spotted a 97-mph pitch on the corner for a called third strike.
"In situations like that, one-run or two-run lead, I feel like I have more confidence," Rodney said. "No matter if it's a full count, I feel more comfortable. I feel like a monster."