The Los Angeles Angels shelled out big bucks to C.J. Wilson during the offseason because of his reputation for pitching deep into games and eating up innings. The fact that they don’t have to face him anymore was just a bonus.
Wilson pitched effectively through eight innings and got home run support from Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo as the Angels bounced back from consecutive shutout losses against Toronto to beat the Blue Jays 6-2 Saturday night with slumping slugger Albert Pujols on the bench.
”Our job is to go out there and throw eight or nine innings every time. That’s what we’re built to do, so anything less is kind of disappointing,” said Wilson, who threw 203 innings in 2010 and 223 1-3 last year for the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers after five seasons in their bullpen.
”I felt like I was shooting myself in the foot lately with mistakes and high pitch counts early in the game, but tonight I had some quick innings early,” he added. ”And the fact that we scored took a little bit of pressure off, so I was able to attack hitters a little bit more.”
Wilson (4-2) allowed two runs and six hits, including Adam Lind’s leadoff homer in the seventh, and struck out nine. The All-Star left-hander had his longest outing in six starts with the Angels, who signed him to a five-year, $77.5 million contract as a free agent in December.
”Obviously, they’ve got a lot of power,” Wilson said. ”It’s like you think you have them under your thumb, and then all of a sudden, you make one mistake and – boom – home run. Sometimes you have to go for the corners and maybe take the risk of throwing a ball, instead of coming right down the middle. Obviously, you want to throw strikes, but you don’t want to throw meatballs – because the meatball I threw tonight was a home run.”
Toronto’s other run came on an RBI single by Jose Bautista, who struck out twice against Wilson.
”He was spotting his fastball and the cutter,” Bautista said. ”That was working for him today and he stuck with it all game long and we couldn’t make enough adjustments.”
Kyle Drabek (2-3) was charged with five runs, eight hits and five walks in five-plus innings.
When Trout came to bat in the fifth with the score tied 1-all, a blond teenager appeared on the video board, holding up a placard asking the 20-year-old rookie to accompany her to her prom. Two pitches later, Trout hit his first home run in seven games and 25 at-bats since his recall from Triple-A Salt Lake. The video crew again showed the teenager with the sign, while Trout circled the bases on his sixth big league homer.
”Somebody just came over to me and said it was on the big screen. I didn’t even see it,” Trout said. ”That’s a first for me. It’s awesome that the fans are out there cheering for me.”
Perhaps someone should ask Pujols to the prom. The three-time NL MVP, batting .194 with five RBIs and no home runs, got the day off after playing in the Angels’ first 27 games. He is in the longest homer drought of his 12-year career, 33 games and 137 at-bats since late last season with St. Louis, and has only one RBI in his last 18 games – on a Baltimore-chop groundout to third base.
Pujols, in the first year of a 10-year, $240 million contract, averaged 40.5 home runs during his 11 seasons with the Cardinals – including a career-best 49 in 2006 – and is the only player in major league history to hit 30 or more homers in each of his first 11 big league campaigns. He’s never gone this late into a season without one.
”I think everybody needs a day, no matter who you are or what the situation is,” Angels outfielder Vernon Wells said. ”I mean, when you play this game at this level, you want to be in the lineup every day from a competitor’s standpoint. But that’s what you have a manager for – to regulate that kind of thing and be able to realize when guys need a day and allow them to kind of just push reset and start over.”
Immediately after Trumbo led off the sixth with his fourth homer, the Angels loaded the bases with a walk, a single by Erick Aybar and a bunt hit by Bobby Wilson that chased Drabek.
Trout followed with a sacrifice fly against Jason Frasor, who committed a throwing error to second base on a potential inning-ending double-play comebacker by Alberto Callaspo as the Angels increased the margin to 5-1. Frasor struck out Howie Kendrick with the bases loaded after a scratch single by Kendrys Morales, who had three hits.
”It was one of those games where they executed and we didn’t, so they won. That’s it,” Bautista said. ”There’s no need to overanalyze it. It’s not that big of a deal. We’ve got a game tomorrow and we’re going try to take this series and move on.”
Notes: The last time Pujols drove in a run with a hit was April 15, when he singled against Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano at New York. When a group of reporters approached Pujols at his locker before the game to ask about his omission from the lineup, he said: ”Go ask the manager, not me, guys. I don’t make the lineup.” … After five consecutive games on this homestand that were played in under 2 1/2 hours – including one that took 2:11 and two that lasted 2:10 – this one was over in 2 hours, 54 minutes.