BRONX, N.Y. — Austin Jackson is no stranger to making a name for himself in the postseason.
One of the hottest prospects in the New York Yankees farm system at the time, the center fielder wowed the Trenton Thunder faithful with his defense in both the 2007 and 2008 postseason that played large roles in his team winning back-to-back Eastern League championships.
Now a member of the Detroit Tigers, Jackson’s in the Major League playoffs for the first time in his career, playing against his former organization in the American League Division Series. But he said that the series carries no extra meaning for him based on the opponent.
“It’s just exciting to be in the postseason, really,” said Jackson in an exclusive post-Game 2 chat with the Democrat.
“It’s my first time, and I’m just pumped up for it. I’m glad we got a chance to get in here and get a win.”
Jackson seemingly single-handedly led Trenton to several postseason wins during his two playoff runs there, with several game-saving throws from center in the 2007 ELDS vs. Portland and his incredible home run-robbing catches in the 2008 ELCS against Akron coming to mind.
While it’s ridiculous to think there’s much of a comparison between playing in the Double-A playoffs and those at the big league level, the now-24-year-old says those games did help him know what to expect for his first October experience.
“I think it definitely prepared you and gave you a little taste of the playoffs, even though it’s not to that magnitude,” he said.
“At the same time, it is the playoffs. Just the atmosphere, it’s good to get that feeling. Here, there’s bigger ballparks, the games mean more now. It’s just at that level that I always wanted to get to, and I’m having fun and I’m enjoying it.”
Jackson, who has struggled so far in the ALDS, was understandably excited to come out of Yankee Stadium with a 1-1 series split after dropping Game 1.
“It’s tough to come in here — in anybody’s house, really — and get wins at this time of the season,” Jackson said.
“To split going back into Detroit and have a little momentum going there, it’s definitely going to help us out.”
Detroit defeated the Yankees, 5-4, in Game 3, and Jackson is now one win away from advancing to his first career ALCS.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com