Jackson retired the first batter he faced, Taylor Featherston. He allowed a one-out infield single to Kole Calhoun. He walked Mike Trout, but retired Albert Pujols. With two outs, he got ahead of C.J. Cron, 0-2, but Cron took a ball, fouled off two pitches and roped a two-run double to right-center field.
That ended Jackson's night -- and contributed to the Rangers dropping the opener to the Angels, who now trail them by 2 1/2 games in the Wild Card standings. But manager Jeff Banister said he wouldn't hesitate to use Jackson in a similar moment again.
"He's gonna be able to pitch in those situations -- that's why we got him up here," Banister said. "One good pitch and he's out of the inning. We liked what we saw."
Ordinarily, the Rangers would probably have used Keone Kela in that spot. But Kela was sent back to Texas on Thursday after experiencing minor right elbow soreness in his previous outing on Wednesday. He's shut down for the next few days.
Ross Ohlendorf, another late-inning candidate against that set of hitters, was down, too. While going through his throwing program, he had soreness in the back of his right shoulder. Banister said Ohlendorf would probably be fine.
That left Jackson, a righty power arm who throws his fastball in the high 90s, to get through the right-handed-heavy middle of the Angels order. Trout, Pujols and Cron were stacked together with left-hander Martin Perez starting for Texas.
"I felt good, I felt in control -- I felt like I would pitching anywhere else," Jackson said. "I got the nerves out of the way when I was in the bullpen. ... Just didn't go my way. Didn't make quality pitches."
Despite a few hiccups, Banister said Jackson looked mostly sharp.
"Came in, showed the power of the fastball, ball came out clean," Banister said. "The breaking ball was in the strike zone, it was sharp. It was nice to see Luke get out there and get his debut."