Saturday, August 27, 2011
Wilson aimed low, ball went high (and out)
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson didn't quite know what to think when his strange Saturday outing was over.
Wilson served up four home run balls, doubling his career high in a game and forcing his team to try to play catchup the entire game. The Rangers couldn't quite climb all the way back, falling to the Los Angeles Angels, 8-4. The loss inches the Angels closer to the Rangers at two games back. The clubs will play on ESPN on Sunday night to determine the winner of the series.
Wilson was out of the game after allowing 10 hits and six runs in just five innings. It was the first time this month he didn't have a quality start, coming in with a 3-0 record and a 1.37 ERA.
"The home run ball was working. The problem is that I was the one giving them up," Wilson said. "I feel like it was kind of a weird thing. I don't even know what to think about that. I was aiming down and the ball was going up. That's what happens sometimes."
Wilson had given up just 10 homers coming into the game, making it odd to see him allow four in one game, 29 percent of his season total in one five-inning stretch.
It wasn't one particular pitch that gave Wilson trouble, either. For whatever reason, nothing stayed down consistently.
"All the pitches that were hit well were up," Wilson said. "I gave up a home run on a changeup, a slider, and a fastball and a sinker. It was a smorgasbord of bad pitches."
This season, Wilson has been solid against tough opponents. Coming into the game, he had a 2.71 ERA this season in starts against teams currently at .500 or better. And he was particularly good against the Angels, with a 2-1 mark and a 1.33 ERA in four starts before Saturday.
But Wilson couldn't find his spots Saturday, giving up a solo home run to Vernon Wells in the second inning and back-to-back homers to No. 8 hitter Mike Trout and No. 9 hitter Bobby Wilson with two outs in the fourth. It was the first homer of the season for Wilson and ended a span of 106 homer-less at-bats.
Mike Maddux tried to help Wilson, coming out to the mound in the fifth at one point.
"During the game, you're focusing on making the adjustments yourself and obviously Mike was trying to be encouraging," Wilson said. "But I was trying to throw the ball down anyways, so there's nothing anybody could do."
Before the game, the Rangers mapped out their pitching rotation for the rest of the season. Wilson is the only one staying on a five-day schedule, so he can get as many starts as possible in the final month and be in position to pitch in the final series against the Angels or the first game of the ALDS.
"I'd rather throw on five days," Wilson said. "Last year down the stretch I threw every five days. They gave me the option to take nine days off at one point and I said I'd rather be on routine than well-rested, which I don't really believe in anyway. You saw from [Ervin] Santana tonight that it doesn't matter how much rest you get if you hit your spots. That's what you need to focus on."
Santana, pitching on short rest for the first time in his career, had good velocity and allowed four runs on four hits in seven innings with a walk and two strikeouts, earning his 10th win of the season.
* Manager Ron Washington said catcher Mike Napoli had a bruise on his left wrist, but was OK and that's why he stayed in the game after being hit by a pitch in the sixth.
* The Rangers' pitching staff has a 7.98 ERA in the last seven games.
* Michael Young has 10 RBIs in the last 16 games.
* David Murphy has homers in consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 14 and 15, 2010, versus Detroit.
* The Angels have won seven of their last nine games to cut the Rangers' lead to two games (it was six after the teams left Anaheim).