I should make up a template for recaps of games that Edwin Jackson starts. It would save me a lot of time and I wouldn't have to make adjustments that often. It would include a couple of solid innings, a bunch of strikeouts, a loss of command and then one key hit by the opposition, oftentimes a home run, that would put the game out of reach.
The Pirates defeated the Cubs 6-2 Monday night in Pittsburgh, and pretty much all of the above happened off Jackson's pitching. It was noted by someone in the comments to the game preview that Andrew McCutchen had just crushed Jackson throughout his career and that Jackson shouldn't even think of throwing a strike to him.
Someone on the Cubs' coaching staff should have taken note of that, because sure enough, Jackson grooved one to McCutchen with a runner on base in the third inning. Boom! Home run, 3-0 Pirates lead. McCutchen is now 12-for-26 lifetime off Jackson (.462/.523/.923). That's not a misprint -- that's a .923 slugging percentage, as three of the hits are doubles and three are home runs. For good measure, Jackson has also walked McCutchen six times, and that surely would have been a better result Monday evening.
Six innings, seven hits, four runs (all earned), two walks, eight strikeouts. It's the 11th time in his career that Jackson has allowed exactly that many runs in exactly that many innings. And if you think that translates to "inning-eater," think again. Jackson ranks 98th of 132 qualified starters in innings per start this year. That doesn't say "inning-eater" to me. (That is, incidentally, one spot below Travis Wood, who isn't piling up innings very well this year, either.)
Carlos Villanueva compounded the trouble by giving the Pirates another pair of runs. It's the fifth time in 10 relief appearances that Villanueva has given up runs; perhaps the Cubs could have come back if he had held the score down. Instead, all the Cubs got was a consolation home run by Starlin Castro leading off the ninth; Castro also drove in the Cubs' other run with a sixth-inning double and singled, going 3-for-4. Apart from that, no other Cub hitter is really worth mentioning, as the team had just five other hits and no walks on the night. At least it all happened fairly quickly; the 2:33 game time was the third-shortest of 2014.
And there's one more thing. (Caveat: I know it shouldn't matter to the result of the game which uniform shirt the Cubs are wearing.)
As most of you know, I have never cared much for the Cubs' blue alternate jersey, which is now worn only during road games. The Cubs now have another alternate, with block letters spelling "CUBS" on the front, and also wore a "camo" jersey on Memorial Day. Here is the Cubs' record in road games this year wearing the various jerseys:
Camouflage: 1-0 "CHICAGO" gray: 2-4
"CUBS" alt: 2-5
Blue alt: 5-13
Looks pretty clear to me: ditch the blue alts. Oddly, after wearing the "CUBS" block-letter shirt for the first six road games, the Cubs haven't worn it at all since April 29. They've worn the blue alts for 15 of the last 20 road games, during which their record is 7-13.
Want to win on the road, Cubs? Go back to the standard-issue road grays with "CHICAGO" on the front. (Again, yes, I know it shouldn't matter. Also, in case you were wondering, the Cubs are 14-11 at home wearing the standard white pinstripes, and 1-3 in throwback jerseys.)
The Cubs will try it again at Pittsburgh Tuesday night, with Travis Wood facing Francisco Liriano.