ST. PETERSBURG — There aren't many pitchers who could have thrown a no-hitter the historic way Diamondbacks right-hander Edwin Jackson did Friday night.
Jackson, a former Ray, definitely did it unconventionally, walking seven of his first 13 batters and eight overall. He threw a career-high 149 pitches, leading Arizona manager A.J. Hinch to dub it "one of the most bizarre no-hitters you'll ever be around."
But the Rays, the victims in the 1-0 loss in front of 18,918, said it was fitting Jackson completed the feat, the first in the 13-season history at Tropicana Field
They knew how the hard-throwing 26-year-old would always get better as the game wore on, and that he boasted the athleticism and stuff for a special night. A few Rays, including pitcher James Shields, stood on the top step of their dugout, waiting for Jackson to emerge from the celebratory mob to see them give him a round of applause.
"Besides going to the World Series (with the Rays), and maybe my major-league debut, this is one of the most memorable days that I've had as far as right now," Jackson said.
The Rays (44-29), who have been no-hit four times overall, are the first team to be no-hit three times in a period of 12 months (nine or more innings). It was the fourth no-hitter in the majors this season, and the second against the Rays (the A's Dallas Braden threw a perfect game May 9). The two other times the Rays have been no-hit: the White Sox's Mark Buehrle (perfect game, July 23, 2009) and the Red Sox's Derek Lowe (April 27, 2002).
"If you would have told me at the start of the season, we'd have a perfect game and a no-hitter (thrown against us) in one season, I would have probably told you you were crazy," centerfielder B.J. Upton said.
But considering how much the Rays respected Jackson, who spent four years in a Tampa Bay uniform and won 14 games during their World Series run in 2008 before getting traded to Detroit, Upton said: "If you'd like to see anybody do it, you'd like to see him do it. … For him to throw that many pitches and to still have 95 (miles per hour) left in the tank in the ninth, it's just amazing to me."
Jackson, himself, was amazed he still had a chance considering his rough start. His eight walks were a career high, and he escaped several jams. The biggest came in the third inning, when he walked the bases loaded with no outs. That included the Rays' best chance at breaking up the no-hitter, a hard grounder by Upton that was snagged by sprawling third baseman Mark Reynolds, who forced out Ben Zobrist at home.
"To even … have a chance to do what I did, from the way the game started, is crazy," Jackson said. "I want to say after the fifth I looked up and it was like, wow, after all this, it's still no hits."
Though Jackson was not able to command his fastball well, it was his offspeed pitches "that was the one thing that saved me in this game." Jackson threw the most pitches in a nine-inning game since Washington's Livan Hernandez threw 150 on June 3, 2005, according to STATS LLC.
Jackson, whose previous career high was 132 pitches, made it a tough decision for Hinch to keep him in. They had four relievers up, including one in the third. But Jackson said, "I was not coming out of that game."
"I think we stopped counting at 115," Hinch said. "You do want to make smart decisions, you do have a chance at history and you don't want to take it away from him."
Afterward, Rays manager Joe Maddon praised Jackson, and offered a request: "Please, find somebody that's been no-hit twice and gone to the World Series and won it, I'd really appreciate it. And if it hasn't happened, please make it up."
Actually, of the 10 teams that have been no-hit twice in one season (nine innings or more), one won it all — the 1917 White Sox. That silver lining may give the Rays, who have lost seven of their past nine games, some solace down the line, but not Friday.
"It's great for him," said right-hander Jeff Niemann, who gave up one run over 71/3 innings. "But for us, it (stinks), it's no fun. I don't want to see anybody do that against us. I don't care if you played here, if he was my best friend. I don't want to see that, I don't think anybody else does either."
Teams no-hit twice in t he same season
Note: Games were 9 or more innings