As the old baseball saying goes, nobody was fooled by Andre Jackson on Friday. In the eighth inning of a one-run game against the Chicago Cubs, the Dodgers reliever was called upon. The Dodgers were in disarray after 13 hitters, five runs, six hits, including four home runs, and an 8-2 defeat in front of 52,298 spectators in Chavez Ravine.
The Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the Cubs hitters, “Andre has been throwing the baseball well for us, and it seemed like they were on everything.” They were just on too many pitches, regardless of whether he was tipping pitches or not.
Roberts may have been right after all. Jackson is not one of the team’s high-leverage relievers; in his first three games, he allowed three runs and six hits over 613 innings for a 4.26 ERA in a middle-relief position. Nevertheless, even he was shocked by the Cubs’ thrashing of him.
He might have been tipped pitches, perhaps.
Maybe shoot,” Jackson suggested. “We are always working on it. But I have to go take a look at it and see what occurred.
Watching a repeat of Jackson’s excursion will certainly make him cringe.
Despite a considerable drop in fastball velocity, Noah Syndergaard gave the Dodgers a strong start, allowing just three runs and six hits over six innings while striking out nine batters, eight of whom were swinging at his changeup, and walking just two.
Right-hander Brusdar Graterol of the Dodgers struck out the side in order in the top of the seventh, and third baseman Max Muncy blasted a single home run to right field in the bottom of the inning—his fifth in the previous four games—to close the gap on the Cubs to 3-2.
However, Roberts chose Jackson over left-hander Caleb Ferguson when the core of the Cubs’ order, including switch-hitter Ian Happ, right-handed batter Seiya Suzuki, and left-handed hitter Cody Bellinger, were scheduled to come up in the eighth.
When Roberts was down a run, “I felt that right there, he’s a neutral guy [against right-handers and left-handers], down a run, I didn’t want to use Caleb,” he said. That is not what you want to accomplish when you start sending leveraged guys out there. For us, Andre is throwing strikes. He simply made poor pitches.
Happ kicked off the game with a 423-foot home run to give his team a 4-2 advantage after reaching base three times on singles, doubles, and walks. Following his recovery from a left oblique injury, Suzuki hit his first home run in 2023, giving the team a 5-2 advantage.
Jackson managed to get former Dodgers outfielder Bellinger to fly to deep centre field in his first game as a visitor in Chavez Ravine, but Patrick Wisdom homered to left.
Jackson became the first Dodgers reliever to allow four home runs in a game since Johnny Klippstein in 1958 when he allowed Yan Gomes, who singled and scored in the third then hit a solo home run in the fifth, to lead off the ninth. Later, Haap added an RBI double inning for an 8-2 advantage.
Roberts admitted that his decision to go with Jackson was his own, adding that it “obviously didn’t work out.”
Jackson, who is in his third big league season, acknowledged that he has dealt with pitch tipping in the past, but he wasn’t certain that this was the cause of his difficulties.
It happens in waves, with maybe some tipping, according to Jackson. I’m not yet sure what it is, but I definitely left a lot of pitches in the middle of the plate.
Left-hander Justin Steele of the Cubs improved to 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in three starts after giving up two runs and three hits in seven innings while striking out eight and walking one.
In three starts, Syndergaard went 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA, and his drop in velocity caused some people to have some doubts. His four-seam fastball averaged 91.0 mph on Friday night, which is much slower than the 92.9 mph average for this season and his pre-Tommy John surgery 98.0 mph average. His sinker’s average speed dropped from 92.5 mph this season to 91.4 mph.
He made pitches when he needed to, so I give him credit.
According to Syndergaard, a heavier workload in between starts may have caused him to feel a little tired. We’ll probably just moderate the intensity for Syndergaard’s next start because “I threw quite a bit, so it might have been a little of that,” he said. To get the opposing team out, I’m simply going out there and trying to execute my pitches.
Since 1995, Mike DiGiovanna has covered Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Times. He spent 19 years covering the Angels and two seasons covering the Dodgers. In 2001, 2017, and 2019, he received Associated Press Sports Editors Awards for his work on feature stories and breaking news. He started working as a Times contributor in 1981. He is an East Lyme, Connecticut native and Cal State Fullerton alumnus.