Austin Jackson's shortened strike has made a world of difference in his offense. Most of all, he has cut down on his strikeout totals, which has made the Tigers' offense even more potent. This was on display again last night.
Situation: top of the first inning, no runners on base, zero outs. Austin Jackson leads off the game by falling behind in an 0-2 count. Mariners starter Aaron Harang misses high and outside with a fastball, bringing the count to 1-2. Going after the strikeout, Harang throws a breaking ball low and away.
This is a pitch that Jackson would have swung at a couple years ago.
Instead of striking out here, Jackson goes on to see three more pitches before lining a 3-2 fastball into right-center for a leadoff triple.
The end result? An eight-pitch at-bat to start the game, leading to yet another 1-0 lead for the Tigers.
Situation: top of the eighth inning, bases loaded, two outs. Jackson again falls behind 0-2, but then goes to work. He fouls off three straight pitches, the last of which is almost in the dirt by the time he makes contact.
After that, Jackson sees four straight balls from pitcher Bobby LaFromboise to walk in a run. Total damage: a nine-pitch at-bat that extends the inning, resulting in a pair of insurance runs.
Jackson won't continue to hit .364/.417/.545 after falling into an 0-2 count all season long, but it's easy to see that his swing changes from last year have continued to pay dividends in 2013.