ARLINGTON, Texas — If you’re wondering why Los Angeles ace C.J. Wilson struggled through the first three innings of Friday’s 5-3 loss to the Texas Rangers, wonder no more.
The former Texas pitcher said he was dealing with slippery baseballs.
Wilson, who allowed three runs and threw 77 pitches in the first three innings, couldn’t get a grip on the ball.
That led Wilson to walk three batters, hit two and throw three wild pitches.
It apparently had nothing to do with facing his former teammates. Wilson is now 1-2 with a 7.36 ERA against Texas since signing with the Angels before the 2012 season.
And Wilson wasn’t above pointing a finger at the opposing team.
“We were just changing the balls out because it’s like, there’s really, it’s what do you say about it,” Wilson said. “You going to call it a coincidence? It’s not a coincidence. Let’s be honest.”
Wilson wasn’t sure if the Rangers, who supplied the balls, were dealing with the same issue.
“I don’t know,” he said. “All I know is every couple of balls I’d be like this is a good one and I’d be like, you know, they’d have a little grip then they’d foul one off and I’d be like, Crap. And the next one would come out and it would be like, ‘Nope, nope, nope.’We changed more balls than we normally changed, but that’s not really the focus of the game.”
Wilson said it got bad enough that he was concerned he would hurt someone. He did hit two Rangers in third inning – Adrian Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski. The Pierzynski hit batter forced in a run.
Wilson’s game did get better after the third inning, as the Rangers had just one more hit off him over the next three innings.
It wasn’t because the balls got better either.
“I just made an adjustment physically,” Wilson said. “It takes time and the best pitchers are able to make adjustments very quick.”
While Wilson has plenty of detractors in Texas, he did have a defender in his clubhouse in Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
“We had a couple of baseballs that still were taken right out of the box, still had packing dust on them,” Scioscia said “They weren’t rubbed up at all. So, CJ just had to do a little more work on them to get them prepared. He didn’t say the grip was any issue but we had a number of balls that came back that they may have taken the paper off and put them in the box.”