Four innings later, Wilson took what looked to be a sure win out of the A's grasp and lifted the Rangers to an improbable 5-4 victory.
With two outs and the Rangers trailing 4-3 in the top of the ninth, Wilson crushed an RBI double to left off A's right-hander Luke Gregerson, bringing Leonys Martin home with the tying run from second. Then Wilson raced home with the go-ahead run on rookie Michael Choice's single to center.
Redemption? That's not what was on Wilson's mind in the Rangers' clubhouse. He was just ecstatic to have played a part in one of the most improbable, crazy comebacks in his career.
"We've been on the other end of a couple of those, and they sting a little bit, especially against a division rival," Wilson said. "It's a great to win a game like that in the ninth inning."
There was enough drama for two games in the ninth inning leading up to Wilson's heroics. Pinch hitter Mitch Moreland rocketed a leadoff double to right center, then moved to third on Robinson Chirinos' sacrifice bunt.
Moments later, the Rangers appeared to kill their chances for a comeback with a self-inflicted wound. Apparently thinking the squeeze was on, Martin bunted. Moreland was caught off guard but ran home anyway, thinking the ball was headed up the first-base line.
Gregerson fielded the bunt and threw home, easily nailing Moreland.
"There wasn't a [squeeze] sign on," Moreland said. "I think Martin thought there was a squeeze. When he bunted I was probably a little too aggressive."
Martin quickly started to make amends, stealing second base with Wilson at the plate. Instead of just trying to get on base and get Martin into scoring position, Wilson now had bigger ideas.
"I know Gregerson really likes that slider," Wilson said. "I wasn't really sitting on it, but I was very conscious of it. I wanted to make sure I was getting the ball a little more elevated in the zone, so if he hung the slider I was ready for it."
Gregerson hung the slider, and Wilson was ready. Choice, making his first start against the A's since they traded him to Texas in December, stroked a sharp single.
"It meant a lot," Choice said. "To be in that situation was huge. I was just looking to get Willie in."
Defensively, Wilson had moved from second base to third in the bottom of the fourth after third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff left the game because of a stiff back. With a runner on first and one out, the first ball that came his way at third went under his glove and into left field. Instead of turning an inning-ending double play, Wilson opened the door for two unearned runs.
"I thought I attacked that ball the right way," Wilson said. "[Josh] Reddick kind of chopped it. I read it good, I saw it good. I charged in. I just didn't quite get there. Most of the time when the ball goes under your glove I think it's because you pick your head up a little bit. I imagine if I went and checked it I'd probably see that I was looking a little bit toward second base and [thinking about] making a throw rather than catching the ball first. That's a lesson I guess you keep on learning."
Not all of the news was good Tuesday night for the Rangers. In the bottom of the eighth, left-hander Pedro Figueroa left the game because of an injury to his left elbow after throwing only one pitch. The Rangers said he was being evaluated by their medical staff.