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Edwin Jackson saw his spring ERA skyrocket to 6.88 after today's start.
"I've never had good spring trainings," Jackson said. "So definitely games like this don't affect my confidence. When we get ready to play, I'll have just as much confidence in myself."
Jackson does have a point. His spring ERA in 2010 was 5.32. Last year it was 5.59, when opponents hit .358 against him.
So the 6.68 ERA he's sporting right now after getting tagged by the Orioles today is nothing out of the ordinary.
That said, Jackson has never endured through a Grapefruit League start quite like this. He did, after all, allow 10 runs (seven earned) on 11 hits. He walked in one run, served up a three-run, opposite-field homer and allowed another run to score on an errant pickoff throw. And he was unceremoniously yanked by manager Davey Johnson after allowing seven straight batters to reach in the bottom of the fourth.
"Obviously, he wasn't hitting his spots," Johnson said. "His location wasn't very good at all. But he got his work in, kind of like Gio [Gonzalez]. Not the way you want them in. But he got it in."
Jackson's ragged outing was only the latest by a member of the Nationals rotation. Gonzalez gave up eight runs in 3 2/3 innings Thursday against the Cardinals. Jordan Zimmermann gave up four runs in five innings yesterday against the Astros.
Johnson remains unconcerned with those numbers.
"I like where they're all at," he said. "Results in the spring, I worry about it as a group if we didn't have the arm strength. That's the only thing you really worry about in the spring: the arm strength and what kind of shape they're in. And I'm comfortable with all of them."
Jackson actually displayed moments of dominance today, particularly during a 1-2-3 second inning in which he struck out both Chris Davis and Nolan Reimold on some devastating, off-speed pitches.
But those moments of glory were few and far between. He allowed three straight singles in the first, four more hits in the third (including the three-run homer by Matt Weiters) and then collapsed during the fourth.
The low point was back-to-back walks issued to J.J. Hardy and Wilson Betemit, the latter with the bases loaded. Those two free passes irked Jackson the most at the end of the day.
"The only thing I don't like is if I have games where I'm walking [batters]," he said. "Other than that, I can handle being hit around. That's the objective: Make them put the ball in play. I'll definitely take my chances being hit around like that than walking people and then get hit around. I like the odds in my favor."
Jackson will have to hope he's able to flip the switch on when he takes the mound for his first regular-season game with the Nationals April 9 against the Mets in New York. He's got two more exhibition appearances (Thursday against either the Braves or Tigers, April 3 against the Red Sox at Nationals Park) to straighten things out.
"Just focus and continue to be ready for April," he said. "By the time we get ready to play, I'll definitely be ready to go."