SAN FRANCISCO -- None of the nearly 20,000 men to have played Major League Baseball have carved out a career that can match that of Edwin Jackson.
Jackson established a big league record Wednesday by playing for his 14th team, breaking a tie with right-handed reliever Octavio Dotel. In his standard-setting effort, the 35-year-old right-hander performed as he has throughout most of his 17 seasons in the Majors as the Giants edged Jackson’s Blue Jays, 4-3.
Jackson wasn’t dominant, but he was efficient. He wasn’t flashy, but he was reliable. Jackson didn’t win, but he helped the Blue Jays remain in a position to triumph for most of the afternoon at Oracle Park.
“He’s going to give you all he’s got every time he takes the mound, like he did today,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Jackson worked five innings, allowing three runs (two earned) and six hits before leaving the game with the score tied, 3-3. Brandon Crawford’s opposite-field homer off Ryan Tepera in the sixth inning ultimately hastened the Giants’ victory.
Jackson’s outing could have been considered a microcosm of his career. His impact upon the outcome wasn’t definitive enough to make him a player that must be retained year to year. But Jackson certainly has been good enough to be considered an asset.
“It says I have a lot of perseverance,” said Jackson, who owns a 104-123 lifetime record with a 4.60 ERA. “Some of those teams had situations which would make other people want to go home and quit and cry, but for me, it’s like the tougher it gets, the harder I work.”
Jackson proved that against San Francisco, which went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and grounded into two double plays against him.
It’s easy to speculate that Jackson might possess an abrasive attitude that causes friction with management, thus forcing him to find a new employer. His longest stints were with the Rays (2006-08) and the Cubs (2013-15).
Yet Jackson is widely respected within the baseball community.
“I feel like I don’t have a bad rap on my head, [which] makes me feel even better,” said Jackson, an American League All-Star in 2009 with Detroit, and the author of a no-hitter for Arizona the following year.
“His reputation precedes him,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, whose judgment of character has been sharpened by 30 years of running professional ballclubs, including three World Series champions with San Francisco. “All I hear is what a great guy and good teammate he is.”
For example, when he was asked to evaluate his pitching Wednesday, Jackson immediately focused not on himself but on catcher Luke Maile.
“First and foremost, Luke did a great job behind home plate,” Jackson said. “Not having caught me before, sticking with me through situations, [despite] not necessarily knowing my repertoire.”
If nothing else, Jackson ought to have amassed an impressive array of memorabilia from his career.
“It’s got to be pretty cool to have that many jerseys hanging in your trophy room,” Bochy said.