An Unlikely Pair

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Despite his stellar ERA of just over 3.00, Edwin Jackson has won just three games this season. The vagaries of pitching wins can be discussed ad nauseum, so we’ll leave that column for someone else, some other time (shameless plug alert: perhaps the next Inside Pitch, available beginning this Friday, FREE, at Nats Park). What’s intriguing, though, is a running theme throughout each of Jackson’s triumphs: the presence of Adam LaRoche.

Edwin Jackson has gotten consistent support on the mound from Adam LaRoche, dating back to their days in Arizona.

When Jackson turned in one of the Nationals most impressive pitching performances of the season – a complete game, two-hitter of the Reds back on April 14 for his first win of the year – it was LaRoche’s two-run double that broke a 1-1 tie and led to the eventual 4-1 victory. Jackson would not win again until last Wednesday, at home against the Mets, when LaRoche’s three-run, first-inning home run and subsequent sacrifice fly were enough to singlehandedly beat the Mets in a 5-3 final. And again, Monday night in Toronto, with a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, LaRoche blasted an upper-deck monster of a home run to stretch the lead to 4-1. Toronto would get no closer than that three-run margin the rest of the night, as Jackson earned his third win.

In fact, in Jackson’s 12 starts this year, LaRoche is batting .383 (18-for-47) with three doubles, four home runs and 15 RBI.

We have mentioned before in this space (following the sparkling, two-hit performance in April) that this odd trend actually goes all the way back to when the two were teammates in Arizona in 2010. LaRoche’s solo home run provided the lone run of support for Jackson’s no-hitter on June 25 that year. He also drove in a pair in Jackson’s other spectacular outing in 2010, eight innings of shutout ball in which he allowed just four hits while fanning 12 against the Marlins.

So what is it about Edwin Jackson starting that seems to bring out the best in Adam LaRoche? We really can’t be sure, but we know one thing for certain: we’ve already got this upcoming Sunday circled, when Jackson is slated to toe the rubber in the finale of the Yankees series. With right-hander Ivan Nova scheduled to start for New York (LaRoche has hit nine of his 11 homers and 21 of 26 extra-base hits against righties), we’ll have our eyes on the powerful lefty in the box all afternoon long.

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