ST. LOUIS – Since taking over as manager of the Chicago Cubs, manager Rick Renteria has been consistent in his praise of his players, no matter how much they have struggled in the past and in the present.
So Renteria didn’t budge when asked about his assessment of Edwin Jackson, who needed 59 pitches to get through two-plus innings before a 46-minute rain delay and failed to either hold a lead or stop the St. Louis Cardinals from scoring after his teammates tied the game in a 6-4 loss Sunday.
Jackson needed only 55 pitches to record his final 12 outs and retired 10 of the final 13 batters he faced. But there were other flaws in addition to letting a 2-0 lead slip away and allowing the Cardinals to regain the lead in the fourth after the Cubs tied it on a single by Welington Castillo.
Such as walking Allen Craig to start the second that led to a three-run rally and wiped out any momentum built on Anthony Rizzo’s home run in the first inning.
“It doesn’t matter,” Renteria said of Jackson’s inability to hold a lead or keep the game tied.“He went out there and was grinding. We’re still in a limited bullpen situation, and he ate up some innings for us. I think all things being equal, he kept us in the ballgame.’’
Renteria said there was no thought of pulling Jackson after the rain delay and running up a high pitch count in a short span.
“We were going to send him back out,” Renteria said. “We were trying to keep him ready. We did everything we could to keep his arm warm. We knew the window (to resume the game) that was available for us. He’s a veteran. He’s been out there before. I think he’s got a will and a strong body and he was able to go out and do it.’’
Jackson said he spent more time during the delay on the Cardinals’ batters than his arm during the delay, saying he once returned from a one-hour delay. But he took responsibility for not keeping a lead or the game tied.
“It’s just the short end of a stick,” Jackson said. “Make a pitch, get out of the inning clean. It changes the whole game from the third inning on. They score one run after that, and I was able to get a couple double plays.
“(But) I was 1-2 on (Matt) Carpenter and (Kolten) Wong. They both get singles. It’s a matter of being able to put guys away after getting them 1-2. But I feel good and I feel like I can go out and make them put the ball in play.”
With days off on Monday and Thursday, Jackson will receive six days of rest before his next start at Wrigley Field against the Cincinnati Reds. Not only will that give him time to recover after throwing a season-high 114 pitches, but it also will give the Cubs’ bullpen time to recover so that Renteria will have more options should Jackson struggle early again.
But when Jake Arrieta returns from a minor league rehabilitation assignment, it’s highly likely that Carlos Villanueva – not Jackson – will head to the bullpen.