Game 79: When Austin Jackson goes for a walk
As the stats show, Rajai Davis’ walkoff grand slam down three runs is a historic feat. As recent trends argue, Austin Jackson’s nine-pitch walk that set up the grand slam wasn’t far off.
There are plenty of statistics showing the odds that were against Jackson getting out of that matchup with Sean Doolittle with a spot on base, let alone a walk, of which Doolittle had allowed one all season so far:
- Doolittle had allowed one total baserunner — ONE — when getting a batter into a 2-2 count.
- Jackson had more strikeouts (33) than walks (eight) and hits (12) after a 2-2 count this season.
That’s the situation Jackson faced after fouling off a 2-1 fastball from Doolittle. His at-bat, however, was just getting started.
“I didn’t want to make it an at-bat where I was just going out there and not really having a plan,” Jackson said. “I tried to step out and gather myself, really think the situation out. I know he has a good fastball. I faced him in the past. I think the main thing was just getting myself in position to hit early enough. He gets on you pretty quick.”
Said Doolittle: “That was a heckuva battle. You could see him really shorten up his swing with two strikes. I thought I threw some good pitches with two strikes. I went away, I went in, I elevated, and it was just a really good at-bat by him.”
Said Brad Ausmus: “That might’ve been the biggest at-bat in the inning there because Doolittle doesn’t walk a lot of guys. Huge at-bat and could be considered a turning point for us.”
He meant a turning point in the inning. Whether it’s a turning point for Jackson, who spent Monday afternoon working early on the field with hitting coach Wally Joyner, time will tell.
The first 2-2 fastball that came in might have been the toughest, a 97 mph heater inside that Jackson fouled off. The next two were more over the plate, but no softer at 96 and 97 mph.
Doolittle got his eighth pitch further in, and off the plate, trying to get Jackson to swing. He didn’t. With the count full, Doolittle went further in, and Jackson held off, loading the bases for Rajai Davis.
“Those are the type of at-bats that can wear you down a bit,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s throwing a lot of pitches, it’s hot out there. Those can take a little bit out of you. On top of it, it’s a walk and you’ve got another baserunner, and it’s a different game at that point.”
It still wasn’t necessarily a long inning for Doolittle, who was at 15 pitches for the inning. Two pitches later, his inning was over, and the Tigers comeback was sudden and complete.
“My stuff was there, it was just a little inconsistent,” Doolittle said. “The velo was there, and I thought I threw some good pitches, but I also threw some bad pitches. It was just an inconsistent outing, and unfortunately one of the ones I really slipped up on cost us the game.”
It came hours after Ausmus had decided to bat Jackson ninth in his batting order against A’s lefty Scott Kazmir. He said he had planned on giving Jackson another start at leadoff, where he had struck out four times and hit into a double play Sunday, before Rajai Davis’ numbers against Kazmir led him to essentially flip-flop them in the batting order.
Hours after that, the order meant Doolittle faced Jackson before he faced Davis. That worked out well.