By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
It was only a mop-up situation but Hawaii Stars reliever Mike Jackson Jr. moonwalked over the Santa Rosa Rosebuds on Friday, stringing together another outing that bordered on “Bad,” the slang for good, or best described as a “Thriller.”
The 6-foot-2 right-hander’s legal name is Michael Jackson Jr. His dad’s legal name is Michael Jackson. They’re the pitching Jacksons. And yes, both son and father have heard a million Michael Jackson jokes and every song from the famous singer’s collection when they’ve stepped on the mound.
There was no music for the Stars reliever’s appearance at Wong Stadium, only silence from Santa Rosa’s bats. He pitched one scoreless inning, with a walk and two strikeouts, to close out a 15-2 win in an interleague baseball game.
Even though the Rosebuds are a semi-pro team from San Francisco, there’s no 10-run mercy rule. The Stars roughed up Nicholas Marcrusky for eight runs in the first inning. He didn’t retire a batter.
Hawaii had 14 hits, Santa Rosa made six errors and those two stats pretty much summed up the lopsided spanking. Devon Ramirez tossed six innings of two-run ball, before John Holley and Jackson polished off the Rosebuds.
“Mike has been the most consistent guy out of the bullpen,” Hawaii Stars manager Garry Templeton II said. “He comes in, challenges hitters and throws all his pitches for strikes. He’s been excellent for us.”
Andrew Preimesberger (0-0, 4.50 ERA) is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Saturday for Hawaii with Cortney Arruda (1-2, 3.85 ERA) on tap for Sunday’s series finale at 1:30 p.m. at Wong.
Jackson (0-0, 0.64 ERA) has surrendered only one earned run in 14 innings. In eight games, he’s struck out 16 and walked eight for a respectable 2-to-1 ratio, and allowed eight hits.
“Growing up I’ve heard all the jokes,” he said. “They used to play Michael Jackson music at my high school in Pennsylvania and at college (Penn State Greater Allegheny). On Maui (against the Na Koa Ikaika Maui), they played songs from the Jackson Five.
“I like all the songs. I like P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) and Thriller.”
His dad was a relief pitcher for 16 seasons in the big leagues from 1986 to 2004. No doubt the senior Jackson got it worse because Michael Jackson’s hit songs dominated the airwaves during that time. He now runs a baseball academy in Houston, Texas, with former major leaguers Jesse Barfield and Charlie Hayes.
At least, both pitching Jacksons tried their best to blunt the Michael Jackson jokes. They both go by Mike, instead of Michael. Still, it helps little.
“John Holley and the guys wear him out with Michael Jackson jokes every chance they get,” G2 said.
Jackson, 23, graduated from Penn State Greater Allegheny, a Division II school in Pennsylvania, in 2010 with a sports management degree. He wasn’t selected in the Major League Baseball draft and pitched in independent leagues.
In 2010, Jackson pitched in the Illinois-based Frontier League, received a spring training invitation with the Colorado Rockies in 2011, and spent last year in the Pecos League in Houston. His friend is teammate Brenden Davis, who informed him about the Stars.
“I sent a video to G2 and Dallas (Mahan, the pitching coach),” Jackson said. “They liked what they saw and I was invited to spring training and won a job in spring training. My goal is to get to the major leagues like my dad did and have a long career like him.
“The best advice he told me was to go out and give it all you’ve got, like it’s the last day and you’ll never play again. I want to keep doing what I do and move up and get with a major league affiliate team.”
No doubt, if he gets there the stadium public-address system will be ready with a host of Michael Jackson songs for his listening pleasure.