Friday night, the feeling was mutual.
Jackson pitched neatly into the seventh inning in his return to Detroit, overcoming an inside-the-park home run and leading the Tigers to a 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Jackson (2-5) spent the 2009 season with the Tigers, going 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA and playing in his only All-Star Game. Ten years later, he was just as good, allowing one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings.
“Ever since 2009, Detroit has felt like home to me,” he said. “I loved that year and I’ve always looked forward to coming back, no matter who I was with. Tonight, though, was really special.”
The Tigers, who topped Kansas City a day earlier, posted back-to-back wins at home for the first time since they swept the Royals in their first home series of the season. Detroit, which has the worst record in the majors, hadn’t won two straight anywhere since a three-game winning streak in Baltimore and Atlanta from May 28-31.
Jackson, who has pitched for a major league-record 14 teams, began this season on a minor league deal with Oakland before being purchased by the Blue Jays in May.
The 35-year-old right-hander made eight appearances for Toronto, including five starts, but was released in July with a 11.12 ERA. He signed with the Tigers and made two starts in Triple-A before being called up Thursday.
“Edwin has seen a lot of things and been a lot of places, and he still appreciates every moment he gets in the big leagues,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He was fantastic.”
Whit Merrifield led off the game with his second career inside-the-park homer. His line drive evaded the leap of center fielder Victor Reyes and bounced hard off the wall. As Reyes and fellow outfielders Harold Castro and Travis Demeritte chased down the ball, Merrifield circled the bases and scored easily.
“I saw it hit off the wall, but I wasn’t sure how far it kicked,” Merrifield said. “I was just running and I saw (third base coach Mike Jirschele) waving me home. I knew it must have gone pretty far for him to wave me in as the first batter of the game.”