Did Andre Jackson tip his pitches? Dodgers reliever gives up four homers in loss

Seiya Suzuki, center, hits a solo home run off Dodgers reliever Andre Jackson in the eighth inning.
Seiya Suzuki, center, hits a solo home run off Dodgers reliever Andre Jackson in the eighth inning of the Cubs’ 8-2 win Friday at Dodger Stadium. Jackson gave up four home runs.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Andre Jackson, as the old baseball saying goes, wasn’t fooling anyone Friday night. The Dodgers reliever was summoned in the eighth inning of a one-run game against the Chicago Cubs. Thirteen batters, five runs, six hits — four of them homers — later, the Dodgers were staggering from an 8-2 loss before a crowd of 52,298 in Chavez Ravine.

“Andre has been throwing the baseball well for us, and it seemed like they were on everything,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the Cubs hitters. “I don’t know if he was tipping pitches or what, but they were just on too many pitches.”

Roberts might have been on to something. Jackson is not one of the team’s high-leverage relievers — he gave up three runs and six hits in 6⅓ innings of his first three games for a 4.26 ERA in a middle-relief role — but even he was surprised by the shellacking he absorbed at the hands of the Cubs.


Cody Bellinger deserves a special place in Dodgers history, but his return to Dodger Stadium serves as a reminder of what went wrong.

April 14, 2023

Could he have been tipping pitches?

“Shoot, maybe,” Jackson said. “It’s something we’re always working on. I have to go look at it, though, and see what happened.”

Jackson probably will wince as he watches a replay of his outing.

Noah Syndergaard, despite a noticeable dip in fastball velocity, gave the Dodgers a quality start, giving up three runs and six hits in six innings, striking out nine — eight with his changeup — and walking two.

Dodgers right-hander Brusdar Graterol retired the side in order in the top of the seventh, and third baseman Max Muncy lined a solo homer to right field, his fifth homer in four games, in the bottom of the seventh to pull the Dodgers to within 3-2 of the Cubs.

Ian Happ heads to first after hitting a solo home run for the Cubs off Dodgers reliever Andre Jackson.
Ian Happ, left, heads to first after hitting a solo home run for the Cubs off Dodgers reliever Andre Jackson in the eighth inning Friday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

But with the heart of the Cubs order — switch-hitter Ian Happ, right-handed-hitting Seiya Suzuki and left-handed-hitting Cody Bellinger — due up in the eighth, Roberts summoned Jackson instead of left-hander Caleb Ferguson.

“I felt that right there, he’s a neutral guy [against right-handers and left-handers], down a run, I didn’t want to use Caleb,” Roberts said. “We’ve got 10, 11 games in a row, and we had three hits to that point. You start running leverage guys out there to come up short, that’s not what you want to do. Andre is throwing well for us. He just didn’t make good pitches.”


Happ, who singled, doubled and walked in his first three plate appearances, led off with a 423-foot home run for a 4-2 lead. Suzuki, making his 2023 debut after his return from a left-oblique strain, followed with a homer for a 5-2 lead.

Jackson got Bellinger, the former Dodgers outfielder who was playing his first game as a visitor in Chavez Ravine, to fly to deep center, but Patrick Wisdom homered to left.

Yan Gomes, who singled and scored in the third and hit a solo homer in the fifth, led off the ninth with a homer to left off Jackson, who became the first Dodgers reliever to allow four homers in a game since Johnny Klippstein in 1958. Haap added an RBI double later in the inning for an 8-2 lead.

Chris Taylor celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the second inning Friday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Max Muncy hits his sixth home run of the season in the seventh inning Friday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“That’s the decision I made,” Roberts said of his choice of Jackson, “and obviously, it didn’t work out.”


Jackson, in his third big league season, said he has dealt with tipping pitches before, but he wasn’t sure that was why he struggled.

“It comes in waves, maybe some tipping in there,” Jackson said. “But I definitely left a lot of pitches in the middle of the plate, so I’m not sure what it is yet.”

Cubs left-hander Justin Steele gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking one, to improve to 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in three starts.

Syndergaard fell to 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA in three starts and raised some concerns with his velocity dip. His four-seam fastball averaged 91.0 mph Friday night, down nearly 2 mph from this season’s 92.9-mph average and well below his pre-Tommy John surgery average of 98.0 mph. His sinker averaged 91.4 mph, down from 92.5 mph this season.

Cody Bellinger was a budding superstar with the Dodgers until injuries and several changes to his swing led to three miserable seasons at the plate.

April 14, 2023

“I don’t think it’s a physical thing,” Roberts said. “I give him credit because he made pitches when he needed to.”

Syndergaard said he may have been slightly fatigued by an increased workload between starts. “I threw quite a bit, so it might have been a little bit of that, so we’ll probably just manage the intensity for my next start,” Syndergaard said. “I’m not really focused on velocity during the game. I’m just going out there and trying to execute my pitches and get the other team out.”