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Finger injury forces C.J. Wilson's exit

9/2/2011

ARLINGTON, Texas -- C.J. Wilson did everything he could to prevent Casey Kotchman’s chopper from going into center field.

After all, the Rangers' ace had a perfect game to protect.

Maximum effort for Wilson included extending his arms in an attempt to deflect the ball. That became a problem when the ball clipped the tip of the index finger on Wilson’s left hand.

The perfect game was gone just like that and Wilson was not as sharp the rest of the evening.

The Rangers beat Rays 7-2 behind two Ian Kinsler home runs, and Wilson still came away with a two-hit victory, his 14th of the season. But based on the first five innings, he knew he had something special going.

So did his teammates.

“You can’t get much better than perfect, can you?’’ said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who made a desperation off-balance throw to first in a futile attempt to get Kotchman. Kinsler said Wilson’s deflection made Kotchman’s ground ball more within his reach.

“When something like what C.J. had going tonight happens, everybody is well aware of it,’’ right fielder David Murphy said. “As a player, you are focused on every pitch because you want to be a part of history, too.’’

Manager Ron Washington said Wilson had his entire arsenal: “He had a good change, a great slider and a real crispness to his fastball.’’

After the injury, Wilson said he lost the feel of the baseball.

“I had to start eliminating two or three of my pitches and it ended up taking away my effectiveness,’’ Wilson said.

Neither pitcher nor manager believed the finger injury will be a problem.

But Wilson sounded like a man that won’t forget.

“I will second-guess that play for the rest of my career,’’ he said.