A statistically absurd gem

No-hit stuff?

Of course, Edwin Jackson had no-hit stuff Friday night. He usually has no-hit stuff, as long as his pitches stumble upon the strike zone from time to time.

We can't say it was inevitable that Jackson would throw a no-hitter. But it is hard to act too surprised that he did — against the same Rays who were zeroed by Mark Buehrle and Dallas Braden in the last 12 months.

If you were to imagine a Jackson no-hitter, this is the way it would have looked: a lot of walks, a lot of pitches, a lot of fastballs that the other guys just couldn't barrel up.

I'll admit that the final tally — 149 pitches, eight walks — looks a little absurd.

But 2010 is the "Year of the 0." We witnessed three perfect games (unofficially) in less than one month. A no-hitter? Routine.

The effort expended, though, made it unique. According to STATS LLC, the 149 pitches were the most by an individual in a complete-game no-hitter since at least 1988.

In the process, Jackson spun around conventional baseball wisdom in a Tilt-A-Whirl. Managers and pitching coaches always tell you that strike-throwing pitchers make for active defenses. Well, that wasn’t the case here. The often-bumbling Diamondbacks managed to turn a number of game-saving plays behind their brilliant-yet-inconsistent starter.

Mark Reynolds, maligned for his strikeouts, made daring plays at third base in the first (Evan Longoria) and third (B.J. Upton). Second baseman Tony Abreu, whose long-term role with the team remains unclear, ranged up the middle to field a ball that was anything but routine.

Move past the statistical oddities, and it's easy to be happy for Jackson. Not a lot has gone right for him on the mound over the past 12 months.

The right-hander had a standout first half for Detroit and made the American League All-Star team last year. Then he stumbled in the second half, posting a mediocre 4.58 ERA.

The worst disappointment came at the end. With the Tigers reeling — and their magic number at two — Jackson took the mound on the final Friday of the regular season. He flopped, allowing a career-worst eight earned runs. Detroit lost to the White Sox, 8-0.

Afterward, Jackson's anguish was obvious.

You know what happened next. The Tigers choked away the division and dealt Jackson to Arizona in December.

Jackson hasn't found the National League any easier. He entered Friday's game with a 4-6 record and 5.05 ERA for the dismal Diamondbacks.

Jackson was facing his former team — the one that didn't have room for him in the '08 postseason rotation. And he was a few wayward pitches from being chased ... in the third inning.

He loaded the bases on walks before getting Matt Joyce — the onetime Detroit prospect traded for him in 2008 — to fly out.

Then came a ground ball from Upton, and another off the bat of Hank Blalock, and Jackson was on his way to the record books.

Speaking of history, what is up with the Rays? They have an exciting offense, one capable of producing the "leg" hits that supposedly spoil no-nos, and yet they come up with goose eggs as often as Tiger is in the tabloids.

STATS LLC tells us that Tampa Bay is first team since the 2001 Padres to be no-hit twice in the same season ... and the second ever to be on the wrong end of a no-hitter and perfect game in the same season.

Oh, and the early season darlings are now 2 1/2 games out of first in the AL East — trailing both the Yankees and Red Sox.

But talk of whether the Rays might fade can wait until another day. This night belonged to Edwin Jackson, and the no-hitter that was perfectly strange.

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