Jackson overcame eight walks, a hit batter, and a base runner who reached on an error to no-hit the Rays on Friday night in a 1-0 Arizona win at Tropicana Field, with 18,918 watching. And just one other item of significance: He threw 149 pitches.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
"It's annoying," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We're a much better offensive club, we've shown that earlier this season. I just think everyone is trying so hard right now. Everyone's wanting to hit home runs.
"I'd rather have us get back to that nice middle-of-the-field approach that we had going in the middle of the year. I think some guys are pressing to a point. We'll get beyond this, we'll get through this. We'll come out the other side."
This was the second time the Rays have been no-hit this season, as Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game against them on May 9 in Oakland. In addition, the Rays earned the distinction of becoming the first team in Major League history to have been no-hit three times in 12 months. Mark Buehrle of the White Sox pitched a perfect game against the Rays on July 23, 2009, in Chicago. Jackson's no-hitter is also the fourth thrown against the Rays in franchise history, as Derek Lowe no-hit the Rays on April 27, 2002.
The Rays are the first team since the '01 Padres to be no-hit twice in one season, and they are the first American League team since the 1977 California Angels. No team has ever been no-hit three times in one season.
In losing, the Rays continued their struggles against the National League. Their 2010 Interleague record fell to 6-10, and their season record went to 43-30.
Jackson, who spent three seasons pitching for the Rays before being traded to the Tigers prior to the '09 season, was making just his second start at Tropicana Field since leaving.
His pitch count reach 133 with one out in the eighth, but with B.J. Upton batting, pinch-runner Carl Crawford was thrown out stealing on Jackson's 134th pitch to end the inning.
At that point, a big question seemed to be whether Jackson would be allowed to remain in the game despite having a no-hitter.
Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said he wasn't about to lift Jackson as long as the no-hitter remained intact.
"There was so much involved with that at the end of the game," Hinch said. "The game is in the balance, 1-0. He was throwing very, very well at the end, and on top of that, he's throwing the most pitches I assume in his career. You want to protect the man, but all's well that ends well and I think we stopped counting at about 115 [pitches]."
Jackson returned to the mound in the ninth to face Upton, who watched strike three pass for the first out. Hank Blalock flew out to left for the second out, before pinch-hitter Willy Aybar walked. Jason Bartlett then grounded out to shortstop to complete the no-hitter.
Jackson expressed appreciation to Hinch for allowing him to remain in the game.
"He let me put my neck on the line," Jackson said. "If something would have happened in that game, everything falls back on him, but I just wanted to give him the confidence, because I wasn't coming out of that game until I gave up a hit or a home run. He could rest me the next start if he wanted to, but I let him know I wasn't coming out of that game."
Jackson's 149 pitches are the most thrown by any pitcher in a game since Washington's Livan Hernandez threw 150 on June 3, 2005, against Florida.
Tampa Bay's best chance against Jackson came in the third, when it loaded the bases on three walks -- Jackson's fifth, sixth, and seventh walks of the game. But Jackson escaped the jam by getting a shallow fly ball for the first out, a fielder's choice force at the plate for the second out, and a ground out to end the threat.
"We needed to get him sooner," Maddon said. "It was there for us. We failed to get any hits. Even a sacrifice fly would have worked. We let him off, and he normally gets better as the game gets longer."
Carlos Pena felt as though Jackson's changeup was the key Friday night.
"I thought he used a lot of off-speed pitches that he usually doesn't do that often," Pena said. "I think he relies more on his fastball. By throwing so many off-speed pitches, it kept us off balance. We know he's got a pretty good fastball, so we always have that in the back of our minds."
Adam LaRoche accounted for the only run of the game when he homered off Rays starter Jeff Niemann in the second inning.
Niemann pitched well, allowing one run on six hits in 7 1/3 innings, but he took his second loss of the season.
"It's just one of those things," Niemann said. "It's a crazy game, and crazy things happen."
All the Rays can do is report to Tropicana Field for Saturday's game and try to bounce back.
"We go around and we talk to each other and we say, 'Hey, we just lost a ballgame' -- that's it," Pena said. "Because why build it up and dramatize it more than it is? All we're doing is just hurting ourselves. In a way we're just saying, 'Hey, we lost the ballgame, let's come back tomorrow.'"
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less