C.J. Wilson embraces his second chance
May, 12, 2012
By Randy Jennings | ESPNLosAngeles.com
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezIt was clear the boos in Texas were a bit stinging for former Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- C.J. Wilson may never enjoy a no-decision more than in Saturday afternoon’s 4-2 Angels win over Texas in front of a hostile sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark.
His pitching line (5.2 innings, five hits, two earned runs, four strikeouts) might not be an eye-catcher, but there were numerous hurdles facing the 31-year-old.
In the opposing dugout were former teammates that happened to be riding a hot streak the last week.
There was the matter of Friday’s rain delay that influenced the Angels to replace Wilson with Jerome Williams once the delay approached two hours.
Random thought: What do you do when you return to the hotel to rest while the rest of the team continues to play?
If you’re Wilson, you don’t watch the game on television, especially with your team down by multiple runs. You read a book.
Wilson made Angels history Saturday as the first pitcher to start a game on consecutive days, something that hadn’t been done in the majors since 2002.
In Wilson’s postgame comments Saturday, it was obvious the boos from fans that formerly cheered him were stinging. For 11 seasons, Wilson toiled in the Rangers' organization. He helped the team reach the World Series in 2010 and again last year. The association ended in December when he signed a five-year, $77.5 million deal with the Angels.
Rangers fans didn't approve.
So it was important, Wilson said, to block out all the negative: “Emotionally I had a dry run Friday and was able to see what it would feel like. I got to hear some colorful, insightful comments on my career. I just had to tune all that out.’’
The other adjustment he had to make was on the technical side. Although he gave up three infield singles and a run Friday before the rain, Wilson said that told him he was pitching his former teammates the right way because they are most dangerous when they get the ball in the air.
“I made one mistake all day and that was the home run by Josh (Hamilton),’’ Wilson said.
That home run tied it, 2-2, and cost Wilson his chance at a victory.
Just as on Friday, Wilson got off to a shaky start, walking the first two batters, which led to a trip to the mound by pitching coach Mike Butcher just nine pitches into the game.
But Wilson avoided an early deficit by striking out Hamilton and inducing Adrian Beltre to hit into a double play.
“Early on, C.J. was searching for things and he found something,’’ Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We had no physical concerns with starting C.J. today, it was just a matter of getting him in the flow of the game again.
"He pitched his heart out.''