Walk-off hit is just what Jackson needed
SEATTLE -- Austin Jackson hadn't seen much of Orioles reliever T.J. McFarland before Tuesday night, but when he did, he wasn't successful.
The Mariners' outfielder had struck out in his only career at-bat against McFarland, in 2013. So with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 10th inning and the score tied, 5-5, he didn't give McFarland a chance at another strikeout.
Instead, Jackson squared up the first pitch he saw, a 93-mph fastball with movement, shooting the ball just inside the right-field line to score Logan Morrison for a 6-5, walk-off win.
"I was just looking to get a good pitch in the zone and not trying to do too much," Jackson said. "You hear that all the time, but especially in that situation -- going into extra innings everybody's having a good at-bat and you really just want to go up there and put a good swing on it."
As Jackson sprinted up the first-base line, he said he wasn't sure if he had the game-winning hit. Even after umpire Jeff Nelson signaled for a fair ball and the remainder of what had been nearly 25,000 fans at Safeco Field erupted in cheers, he was worried it had just been a close call because of a delayed reaction from his teammates.
"Man, you know what, I really didn't know," Jackson said. "I still didn't know if it was fair, even when he called it fair, I was like, 'Oh, I don't know." Because nobody really reacted.
The mood was the same in the first-base dugout, where the Mariners weren't sure if they had their sixth walk-off win of the season.
"We were screaming to keep it fair," said manager Lloyd McClendon. "He put a good swing on a tough pitch and got the big hit for us."
Jackson's batting average has stayed right around .250 for much of the season, but his walk-off knock broke a recent dry spell. Jackson had one hit in his last 12 at-bats and has shared center-field duties with newcomer Ketel Marte of late.
Tuesday's game, in which Jackson notched two opposite-field hits and made a return to the leadoff spot, might give him some momentum. At the very least, it gave him his first walk-off hit since April 5, 2012.
"I guess it hit the chalk, and the rest is history," Jackson said.