Tag Archive: Austin Jackson

Austin Jackson delivers the game-winning hit in the ninth inning on Thursday against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Jackson went 3 for 5 with a triple, run and RBI. (AP photo)

Much of the hype and hoopla surrounded Prince Fielder and the Tigers other two big stars in Thursday’s season opener at Comerica Park.

After all Fielder, the $219 million offseason acquisition and son of former Tigers masher Cecil Fielder was making his debut in a town where he spent a good portion of his childhood.

And reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander was back on the mound looking in midseason form.

And Miguel Cabrera was playing his first game at third base since the 2008 season, making his move across the diamond to accommodate Fielder’s arrival. (And he did make an error)

In the end the day belonged to Austin Jackson, the Tigers much maligned leadoff hitter who has been constantly criticized for his numerous strikeouts over his first two professional seasons. It also didn’t help that he took over center field for Curtis Granderson, who put together an MVP-caliber season for the Yankees last year.

After spending the offseason working on his hitting approach (Jackson got rid of his leg kick and shortened his stride to the ball), the center fielder came through with an impressive start to the season. Jackson went 3 for 5 and delivered the game-winning single down the third base line in the ninth inning to score pinch runner Danny Worth and lift the Tigers to a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox.

It was the first career walk-off hit for Jackson, who bailed out the Tigers after closer Jose Valverde blew his first save since the 2010 season by giving up two runs in the ninth.

Austin Jackson (right) drove in Danny Worth (29) for the winning run in the ninth inning in Detroit's 3-2 win over the Red Sox on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Jackson used all parts of the field with his hits, singling the first pitch he saw from Boston starter Jon Lester into center field to start the game. He tripled to right field to lead off the eighth inning before scoring on Fielder’s sac fly to put the Tigers ahead 2-0. Then with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth he tucked the winning hit just down the third-base line.

Besides using all fields, Jackson didn’t strike out and displayed a good approach when he had two strikes on him. That is worth noting since Jackson has struck out 351 times over his first two seasons in the majors and his strikeout-rate of 27.1 percent was the fifth worst among qualified hitters in 2011. In the third inning, Jackson got down in the count 0-2 before working it full. After seeing a ball, Jackson fouled off a pitch before getting two straight balls. Jackson ended up flying out to center field. In the fifth he was ahead in the count 3-0 before Lester worked it full. He then flied out right.

While it was just one game, the Jackson performance was an encouraging sign for the Tigers to see. The outing resembled some of the many strong performances from his rookie year, where Jackson’s batting average was above .300 for a vast majority of the season and he finished runner-up in the voting for AL rookie of the year.

Him being a table setter for the four power hitters behind him (Brennan Boesch, Cabrera, Fielder and Delmon Young) will make the Tigers offense that much better. And it could be one of the big keys in helping the Tigers accomplish their goal of bringing a World Series title back to Motown.

And more performances like Thursday’s will make fans forget about that guy that patrolled center field in Comerica Park before him.


Max Scherzer tossed eight scoreless innings against the White Sox on Sunday to improve to 4-0 on the season (AP)

The Tigers continued a recent string of success against the White Sox by pulling off a series sweep to improve to 12-10 on the season. Detroit outscored the struggling White Sox 21-3 during the series and have won nine straight over the Chi Sox dating back to last season. The Tigers are now 4-2 against the AL Central and 6-3 at home

Win: Max Scherzer (4-0)

Loss: John Danks (0-3)

Save: Jose Valverde (5)

Hero: Max Scherzer

Scherzer delivered another quality start, tossing eight scoreless innings to move to  4-0 on the season. After manager Jim Leyland emphasized the need for Scherzer to be more efficient with his pitches following his start against Seattle earlier in the week, Scherzer did just that. He only needed 104 pitches in his eight innings of work. In his previous starts he had reached the 100 pitch mark by the fifth or sixth inning.

Key sequence: The bottom of the sixth

With the Tigers holding on to a 1-0 lead, they added a pair of big runs with two outs. Alex Avila started the rally with his two-out single and came around to score on a double by Brandon Inge. Austin Jackson followed with a double to score Inge and push the Tigers lead to 3-0.

Tigers leadoff man Austin Jackson is hitting just .157 and has just one multi-hit game this season (B. Calloway photo)

In baseball slumps are inevitable for hitters.

Failure is natural and the best hitters in the business succeed only 3 out of every 10 at-bats.

All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford is off to a slow start with a .149 batting average for the Red Sox

With the season almost a month old, many players with strong track records have gotten off to slow starts this season. Boston left fielder Carl Crawford, one of the biggest offseason acquisitions in baseball, is batting just .149. Big-time prospect and one of the National League’s top rookies last season, Atlanta’s Jason Heyward, is off to a .190 start. Adam Dunn, a key offseason pickup by the White Sox and a former National League All-Star is hitting .175. Derrek Lee, a career .282 hitter, is just batting .206 in his first season with the Orioles.

With quite a few big name players struggling, that is why there isn’t a reason to be overly concerned about Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson’s struggles at the plate this season. Jackson, who was batting above .300 for a majority of his rookie season, finished his first full season in the majors with a .293 average and was a runner-up in the AL rookie of the year voting last season. This year he is off to a .157 start and has just one multi-hit game through the season’s first three weeks.

Slumps are often magnified when they come at the beginning of the season. In Dunn and Lee’s cases, switching over to the American League for the first time in their careers could have something to do with their early season struggles. Heyward and Jackson could have a case of early sophomore slumps after experiencing high levels of success in their rookie seasons.

In Jackson’s case, some sort of dip in production could have been expected considering he led all of the majors with a .396 batting average with balls batted in play as a rookie last year. Jackson hasn’t had nearly as much luck this season and there have been a few instances, including one in Wednesday’s win over Seattle, that he was robbed of a hit. His swings have looked better and it is only a matter of time before he will start stringing together some hits.

For now, there really isn’t any reason to panic on Jackson. Everyone goes through slumps at some point in time and his first struggles in the majors happen to be taking place right now.

Thoughts on Game 6 of 162

Tigers reliever Enrique Gonzalez walks back to the dugout after being pulled in the seventh inning Thursday. Gonzalez gave up three earned runs in 2/3 an inning. (AP)

Brad Penny bounced back from his rough debut with a decent start for the Tigers. He kept Detroit in the game and was pulled after giving up the game-tying two-run homer to Adam Jones in the sixth. It was the bullpen that failed the Tigers as their season-opening road trip ended with a disappointing loss to the Orioles. Detroit is 2-4 on the road – an area they desperately need to improve if they have hopes of winning the AL Central this year. The bullpen surrendered five runs in the seventh to help the Orioles rally to the win.

Hero: Adam Jones
Jones hit the game-tying two-run homer that chased Penny from the game in the sixth and then drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to center field during the five-run seventh inning.

Key points: After the Tigers surrendered the lead in the sixth, they immediately responded in the seventh as Austin Jackson had an RBI double that plated Alex Avila for the go-ahead run. However, Baltimore responded in its half of the seventh with Mark Reynolds coming up with a two-RBI double off Enrinque Gonzalez that helped push Baltimore’s lead to 8-5. Reynolds’ hit was probably the biggest during the five-run seventh.

Penny thoughts: Penny was doomed by the two home runs he gave up. Other than that and his three walks to three strikeout ratio, the start wasn’t terrible and a step in the right direction. He was two outs away from a quality start until Jones’ home run ended that and knocked him from the contest.

Staying hot: Brennan Boesch has taken some at-bats away from Ryan Raburn with his hot start. Boesch had two hits, including a double, and an RBI in Thursday’s loss ans is batting .421 so far this season. He has five RBIs this season. Raburn was expected to see most of the playing time in left field this season, but with Boesch’s hot bad those plans have altered. Raburn, who isn’t in Friday’s lineup, did also play on Thursday and went 0 for 4. … Alex Avila followed his career-high five RBI performance on Wednesday by hitting a homer in Thursday’s game. He is tied with Miguel Cabrera for the team lead with seven RBIs.

Tablesetter struggles: Austin Jackson and Will Rhymes haven’t been getting on base much through the first six games of the season. Jackson is batting .200 and Rhymes just .111. Jackson did show signs of life with his two hits in the series finale, including the clutch double in the seventh inning that broke the then 4-4 tie. Rhymes had a nice lengthy at-bat in the opening inning but other than that nothing. Will be interesting to see how much of a leash the Tigers will have if his struggles continue. It still is early, but if Scott Sizemore or Danny Worth get off to hot starts in Toledo this situation bears watching.

Up next: Kansas City, 3 p.m. Friday

Thoughts on Game 2 of 162 for the Tigers

Brad Penny’s first start for the Tigers was definitely not one to savor.

Roughed up: Brad Penny gave up eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his Tigers debut on Saturday. (AP)

The veteran right-hander who inked a one-year deal with the Tigers in the offseason gave up three runs in each the first and second innings to put Detroit in a hole it never quite recovered from in Saturday’s loss to the Yankees. His defense did help his case in the opening inning with Jhonny Peralta and Will Rhymes not being able to come up with a couple of tough plays. In the second he served up a three-run homer to Mark Teixeira (his second in as many games) to put the Yankees well in control.

Penny’s final line – 4 1/3 innings pitched, seven hits, eight earned runs, four walks and three strikeouts. Penny, who wasn’t terrible during the spring, will definitely need to rebound in his next start against Baltimore on Thursday.

Key stretch: The fifth inning definitely was the key sequence in the contest. The Tigers had showed some fight and had scored two runs in the top half to cut the Yankees lead to 6-3. They had runners on second and third with two outs and Magglio Ordonez at the plate. Yankee starter ended up striking out Ordonez to get out of the inning. Also not to be lost is Will Rhymes was up with the bases loaded prior to Ordonez and grounded out to first base.  In the bottom half of the fifth, Russell Martin clubbed a three-run homer off reliever Brad Thomas to put the Yankees back in control.

The bright side: Austin Jackson hit a solo homer to left field on a 3-2 pitch to start the Tigers scoring on Saturday. A very good sign, considering the second-year center fielder hit just four homers during his rookie campaign. If someone would have asked you who would be the first Tiger to homer this season, Jackson wouldn’t have been my choice. While he homered, Jackson also did strikeout twice on Saturday and has fanned five times over the first two games.

New addition Victor Martinez also hit a two-run homer and went 2 for 4. Him and Inge were the only Tigers with multiple hits.

Hitting on all cylinders: The starting top four hitters in the Yankees’ lineup (Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez) went a combined 7 for 16 and drove in seven of New York’s 10 runs. Those same slots in the Tigers lineup (Jackson, Rhymes, Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera) went 2 for 15.

Debuts: Besides Penny, Joaquin Benoit (signed as a free agent from Tampa Bay) and rookie Brayan Villarreal each made their Tigers debuts on Saturday. Benoit pitched a scoreless inning of relief while Villarreal pitched the sixth inning and gave up a solo homer to Alex Rodriguez. In his inning of work, Villarreal gave up just the one run and two hits.

Up next: At Yankees, 1 p.m. Sunday in series finale

Thoughts on Game 1 of 162 for the Tigers

Hero: New York’s Curtis Granderson

Former Tiger Curtis Granderson's solo home run in the 7th inning broke a 3-3 tie and lifted the Yankees to a 6-3 win over Detroit in Thursday's season opener (AP)

Granderson was by far today’s most valuable performer. His only hit – a solo homer off reliever Phil Coke – was the one that broke a 3-3 tie and vaulted the Yankees to the opening day win. The former Tiger also made several big plays in the field – ones we were accustomed to seeing in Detroit – that helped the Yankees as well.


First impressions

Justin Verlander carried a strong spring over into the season opener. His first start was a quality one – 6 innings pitched, just the three earned runs on three hits and eight strikeouts. Lone negative was the three-run homer he gave up to Mark Teixeira, the four walks and a 31-pitch opening inning. But the Yankees have a kind of lineup that is going to make you work.

– The bullpen wasn’t so hot today as it went three innings and surrendered three runs to the Yankees. Coke, who is temporarily being used out of the bullpen with the extra off days over the first week and a half, gave up 2 runs (1 earned) and Ryan Perry gave up one, Meanwhile the Yankees bullpen of Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera combined for three scoreless innings and didn’t allow a hit.

– Victor Martinez, one of the Tigers’ big pick ups in the offseason, was 1-for-4 in his Detroit debut. He singled in the second inning.

– Alex Avila looked out of sync at the plate against CC Sabathia and fanned three times today. He also was a little shaky defensively. If Avila gets off to a slow start, you have to wonder how patient the Tigers will be with him. That also could change the lineup drastically with Victor Martinez probably catching more than a 1/3 of the games. That could open some at-bats for Brennan Boesch or Casper Wells as a DH or outfielder. Something to keep an eye on.

With that being said, this is just one game and most of Avila’s at-bats came against one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game. Facing CC wasn’t the best of matchups for him.

– Austin Jackson will need to cut down on the strikeouts. He showed some better pitch recognition this spring but opened the season by striking out three times

– The top three hitters in the Tigers lineup went a combined 1 for 11. Jackson’s single was the lone hit.

– A bright spot was the bottom of the Tigers lineup, which drove in 2 of the 3 runs. Jhonny Peralta had a sacrifice fly and Brandon Inge had a two-out RBI hit. Miguel Cabrera had the other RBI with a sacrifice fly. Ryan Raburn also had a nice diving catch in left field and went 1 for 3 with a walk

Up next: At Yankees, 4 p.m. Saturday