Wilson lets Angels down early in 6-2 loss
Wilson lets Angels down early in 6-2 loss
ANAHEIM – The eclectically-interested C.J. Wilson could probably explain to you the properties that can cause a balloon to float.
He also knows how to let the air out of one.
Wilson deflated the Angels Wednesday night with one of his worst starts of the season, lasting just 2 2/3 innings in an eventual 6-2 loss to his former team, the Texas Rangers.
The loss dropped the Angels' 'tragic number' for elimination from the AL West division race to seven (the combined number of Rangers wins and Angels losses that will eliminate them). At the same time, the Orioles won and the A's lost Wednesday, swapping places in the wild-card race. The Angels are now 3 ½ games behind the A's for the second spot (four behind the Orioles for the first spot).
When the Angels signed Wilson as a free agent last winter, they seemed set to exact a measure of revenge against the Rangers for the way the Texas team has used former Angels (specifically, Vladimir Guerrero and Mike Napoli) to torment them in recent years. Instead, Wilson looks like the tormented one.
In five starts against his former team, Wilson is 0-2 with a 7.65 ERA – 17 runs in 20 innings that have often been tedious viewing, packed as they have been with 27 hits, 13 walks two hit batters and 399 pitches (nearly 20 per inning). Wilson did shut out the Rangers for six innings in Anaheim on June 2. But he also flamed out memorably in his first start against the Rangers this season, retiring just one of five batters faced before a rain delay halted things. In August, he tied a career-high with eight runs allowed in 5 1/3 innings of a loss to the Rangers. Wednesday was his shortest start as an Angel (barring the rain-interrupted game in which the Angels opted not to send him back out after the long delay).
"I've really had two bad starts against them – the rain delayed game and the game in Texas that I pitched poorly, the barnburner game (a 15-9 loss in August) where I made a couple untimely mistakes and gave up a couple home runs," Wilson said. "All the other games were just basic baseball games. Tonight – who knows what happens with more batters or more innings?
"I don't think it really has anything to do with them. It has more to do with me not locating."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia pegged Wilson's problems Wednesday as "more of an execution issue than a gameplan issue." But he showed little patience for Wilson's brand of wanderlust.
"He just couldn't find his release point to put some hitters away," Scioscia said.
Against a Rangers' lineup Wednesday that featured neither Josh Hamilton nor Adrian Beltre (both sidelined by health issues), Wilson threw 27 pitches in the first inning, only 11 for strikes as he walked the bases loaded (one was intentional) before getting Napoli to ground out. After a clean second, he gave up hits to the first three batters he faced in the third – an infield single to Ian Kinsler, an RBI triple to Elvis Andrus and an RBI double to Michael Young.
Wilson retired the next two batters before giving up another RBI double to Napoli. Scioscia pulled Wilson at that point, having seen him throw 66 pitches, only 35 for strikes.
"I wasn't happy to get pulled from the game but I wasn't doing very well so it's my own fault," Wilson said.
"At times, I'm my own worst enemy. At least, I have been the last couple months."
The enemy within might have included Albert Pujols as well Wednesday night.
Jerome Williams did yeoman's work in relief, holding the Rangers to one hit in the next 4 1/3 innings (while throwing 20 fewer pitches than Wilson) and giving the Angels' offense time to get back in the game. It did with a two-run home run by Alberto Callaspo in the fifth inning.
With one out in the sixth, Pujols hit a line drive to right-center and tried to stretch it into a double. He was out easily at second base – a miscalculation in a one-run game that became more costly when Torii Hunter followed with a ground-rule double that would have put runners at second and third with one out.
"The play was in front of him and he trusts his instincts," Scioscia said. "(Rangers centerfielder Craig) Gentry showed some real range, got to that ball and made a nice play. We trust Albert's instincts."
In the eighth, Pujols' instincts led him to chase Young's ground ball very wide of first base, cutting it off with a dive rather than leaving it to second baseman Howie Kendrick. His throw to Garrett Richards was too late to beat Young to the bag. That was the start of a three-run inning that broke the game open for the Rangers thanks to an RBI double by Nelson Cruz and a two-run home run by Geovany Soto off Jordan Walden.
"Garrett kind of shot himself in the foot a little bit," Scioscia said of the leadoff single. "He was late covering first. What should have been an easy PFP (pitchers fielding practice) play ends up being beat out and they scored some insurance runs that inning.
"Garrett was late covering and it cost him."