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Ranger Reax: Wilson impersonating Lee

7/24/2010

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers president Nolan Ryan made it a point to wait for C.J. Wilson to come up the tunnel to the clubhouse and congratulate him.

Wilson went eight shutout innings in a 1-0 Rangers win on Friday, pushing Texas seven games ahead of the Angels in the AL West. No one reached second base against Wilson, who had no walks in a start for the first time this season.

"That was probably his best game," Ryan said. "He was in control of things from the very beginning. He threw strikes, stayed within himself when he got behind in the count and didn't walk anybody. That's how you win. You'd like to think that he's been watching Cliff Lee and learning something."

Wilson can attest to that last part. He said he's been watching two years of Lee on video and studying how the left-hander has become one of the best pitchers in the majors. But seeing it on film and getting to talk to him one-on-one are two different things. And Wilson has always had a yearning to acquire every bit of knowledge he can from those he respects. Lee is no different.

For two straight starts now, Wilson has had the opportunity to chart Lee's pitches and watch him perform well against the same opponent that Wilson faced the following night. He's been able to study the game plan, formulate his own and then bounce any remaining ideas off Lee. The result: Wilson looks a lot like Lee right now. And that's a good thing for the Rangers. Wilson has a 0.61 ERA in those two starts, both coming against top teams in the AL (Boston and Anaheim).

"You see what works," Wilson said of charting Lee's games. "It's all about location. That's one thing Cliff and I talk about. He's like, 'Look, they know what I'm going to throw. I've been pitching for seven years, I've thrown hundreds of innings and know what I've got. That's why they're so aggressive.' He uses that to his advantage. He throws fastballs in a spot that's not fun to swing at. So he's ahead in the count."

Wilson said Lee doesn't throw any more than he has to, relying on whatever's working. In Boston, that was mainly the fastball. On Thursday against the Angels, Lee needed to mix things up more. For Wilson on Friday, his two-seam fastball was particularly effective, so he stuck with it. It was the pitch he used to get Maicer Izturis out with a runner on at first and two outs in the eighth. He threw fastballs to Torii Hunter after falling behind 3-0 to him with one out in the seventh, eventually getting a strikeout.

"He threw cutters away, stayed down and had control," Hunter said. "That's the best control I've seen him have and I've been facing him like five or six years. He pitched well."

Wilson said watching Lee and having some success lately has taught him that he "adjusts too quick."

"I out-think a hitter too much sometimes rather than forcing them to try to out-think me," Wilson said. "I'm trying not to do that."

Manager Ron Washington said he felt like Wilson "came into his own" on Friday.

"I don't think we can be any happier with what C.J. did tonight," Washington said. "He went through that lineup, and that's a tough lineup to go through. He was just outstanding."

Catcher Matt Treanor, who caught seven of Wilson's innings before leaving the game with a sprained right knee, said Wilson was "stubborn in a good way."

"He wasn't going to give in," Treanor said. "He got in some counts and was 2-1 on a couple of guys and switched it up and threw something in the zone and got a ground ball or a fly ball out. He pitched great."

Michael Young described the outing as "awesome" and agreed with Washington that it was Wilson's best outing.

"You can't say enough about how C.J. threw the ball tonight," Young said. "I haven't talked to C.J. about [whether he's learning so much from Lee]. But I can only imagine that it would have an impact on our entire staff. That's usually what No. 1 guys do. There aren't too many true aces in the game and Cliff is definitely one of them, so I think it's great for our entire staff to watch and try to emulate the things he does."

Wilson sure did a good job of that Friday.

Other reaction:

* Young hit his 14th homer of the season and is starting to generate more power.

"He seems to get it going in the second half of the season when others might be tired," Washington said. "This is his time of year."

Young hit a first-inning homer for the game's only run. It was the second straight game he homered in the first. Twelve of his homers came at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Six of his 14 homers have given the Rangers the lead.

* Washington said he didn't even consider leaving Wilson in for the ninth inning.

"Our closer was ready and C.J. had done his job," Washington said.

Neftali Feliz came on and got all three hitters he faced. The Angels are now 0-for-14 this year against Feliz. He's saved all five of the Rangers' wins against Anaheim this year. The only Angel to ever get a hit off Feliz is Vladimir Guerrero, who did it twice last season. The Angels are 2-for-29 all-time against Feliz.

* Ian Kinsler has a 16-game hitting streak. He has hit safely in 34 of his last 37 games and his average has gone from .256 to .304.