Jackson confident he can help Cards advance

Jackson confident he can help Cards advance

Jackson confident he can help Cards advance
MILWAUKEE -- "Gutsy" is what Edwin Jackson called Chris Carpenter's shutout against the Phillies to close out the National League Division Series.

Clutch would be a fitting word to describe Jackson if he is able to seize the moment on Sunday and help the Cardinals eliminate the Brewers to advance to the World Series.

The Cardinals are going with Jackson in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park, while the Brewers are turning to Shaun Marcum.

Since the Cards lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2, they aren't in a must-win situation. But Jackson certainly can give his team a huge boost if he can help end the NLCS in six games.

If that occurs, Carpenter would be well-rested for Game 1 of the World Series, which gets under way Wednesday.

Tale of the Tape: Game 6
2011 Regular Season
Overall: 33 GS, 13-7, 3.54 ERA, 57 BB, 158 K
Overall: 31 GS, 12-9, 3.79 ERA, 62 BB, 148 K
Key stat: .232 opponent BA in regular season; .378 in postseason
Key stat: 10 quality starts in 14 outings since arriving in St. Louis
At Miller Park
2011: 17 GS, 5-4, 4.81 ERA
Career: 18 GS, 5-5, 4.87 ERA
2011: 2 GS, 1-1, 5.79 ERA
Career: 2 GS, 1-1, 5.79 ERA
Against this opponent
2011: 5 GS, 1-2, 5.10 ERA
Career: 5 GS, 1-2, 5.10 ERA
2011: 4 GS, 1-1, 4.80 ERA
Career: 6 GS, 2-2, 4.21 ERA
Loves to face: Lance Berkman, 1-for-17
Hates to face: Nick Punto, 5-for-13
Loves to face: Prince Fielder, 3-for-15
Hates to face: Jerry Hairston Jr., 7-for-13
Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Hasn't lost three straight decisions since 2006
Why he'll win: 4-0 with a 3.10 ERA in nine starts dating back to Aug. 20
Pitcher beware: 0-2 with a 12.46 ERA in two postseason starts, incl. Game 2 loss
Pitcher beware: Allowed seven hits and walked a batter in just 4 1/3 IP in Game 2
Bottom line: Time for redemption
Bottom line: Just keep rolling

A loss on Sunday, however, would mean Carpenter would get the ball on Monday in Game 7 of the NLCS.

Facing possible elimination, the Brewers are sending Marcum to the mound, setting up their ace, Yovani Gallardo, to pitch if the series goes seven games.

The Cardinals aren't demanding Jackson go the distance, but they'd like for him to work deep into the game.

The last St. Louis starter to last more than five innings in an outing was Carpenter, who went the distance while beating the Phillies, 1-0, in Game 5 of the NLDS.

"That was a gutsy performance," Jackson said of Carpenter's gem. "At this point in time, everybody is out on the mound and everybody is trying to perform, and go as deep as they can in the game."

For Jackson a few months ago, being on the brink of reaching the World Series didn't seem possible a few months ago. At the start of the season, he was pitching for the White Sox.

It's been a dramatic turn of events for the 28-year-old right-hander, who was obtained by St. Louis in a late July trade.

Even though Jackson has only been with the Cardinals for less than half a season, manager Tony La Russa has admired his talents for years.

Jackson came up through the Dodgers' system. When Los Angeles had Spring Training in Vero Beach, Fla., Jackson saw action against the Cardinals.

"We had the opportunity in Spring Training to see him in Vero Beach, and he was a young phenom," La Russa said. "And whoa, that's talent, athleticism. And you watch his career."

Once Jackson joined the Cardinals, La Russa was sold even more.

"One of the first days, I remember [pitching coach] Dave Duncan had a meeting with him, and said, 'This guy is really intelligent,'" La Russa said. "He understands what pitching is all about. Some guys, they just never get it, they're just out there throwing. So we've learned he's got a good idea, and he's very competitive. He's got a good personality. He's fun to have on the club. Really ideal."

Now, Jackson is welcoming the chance to close out the series.

"There isn't one person in here who wouldn't want to take the ball," he said. "We're going to go out and have some fun. That's what we've been doing the whole second half. We're going to leave it all out and take our chances of winning the ballgame."

The Cardinals arrived in Milwaukee on Saturday, and some players participated in voluntary workouts at Miller Park in the afternoon.

"We have a good chance to go in and take one out of two," Jackson said. "We like our chances. We're going to go in and have some fun."

One potential concern Jackson will have to deal with is familiarity with the Brewers' hitters.

The general belief is the advantage goes to the hitters if they see the same pitcher more than once in a few day span.

Jackson hopes to prove that theory wrong.

"I don't think either team has an advantage," Jackson said. "There's neither advantage for a pitcher or the batters. There's no secret what I have, there's no secret what they can do. It's just a matter of execution."

Jackson took the ball in Game 2 of the NLCS, and he worked 4 1/3 innings, giving up two runs in a no-decision. The Cards won, 12-3.

Six days later, Game 6 will pit the same pitching matchup, as the Brewers will be going with Marcum.

Is there an advantage to the hitter or the pitcher when they're matched against each other twice in a week?

"I think the common sense answer is if you are playing a playoff series against a team in another division, then you've had six games probably against them," La Russa said. "There are going to be pitchers, starting pitchers, relievers that [hitters] are not familiar with, so that's an advantage to the pitchers.

"But when you play each other 22 times ... these hitters know the pitchers. It's a matter of hitters knowing pitchers and pitchers knowing hitters. It's who executes the best. And I mean every at-bat, not just in part of the game."

Jackson joined the Cardinals on July 27 after being traded twice in the same day. The right-hander went from Chicago to Toronto and then was moved in an 11-player deal to St. Louis.

With the Cardinals, Jackson went 5-2 with a 3.79 ERA in 13 games and 12 starts.

"He's a good pitcher," catcher Yadier Molina said. "We know they play good at home, but we have confidence that we can beat them over there."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.