C.J. Wilson pitches solid eight innings to put Angels over the Astros
HOUSTON — C.J. Wilson had a simple plan for his second start after a dud in his season debut.
"Just told myself I’m going to pick my spot and stay with my spot and not try to overdo it," Wilson said.
It was an effective approach, allowing him to pitch eight solid innings while Howie Kendrick and Raul Ibanez each drove in three runs to send the Los Angeles Angels over the Houston Astros 9-1 Monday.
The Angels took three of four from Houston after starting the season 0-3.
Wilson (1-1) yielded four hits and a run while fanning seven. He looked a lot more like the 17-game winner he was last year than he did in his first start this season when he gave up eight hits and six runs in 5 2-3 innings of a loss to Seattle. In that game, he said, all the hits in that game came when "I basically overthrew or did something mechanically wrong."
He didn’t have that problem Monday.
"I was able to throw curveballs for strikes and changeups for strikes, which was big," Wilson said. "I only threw a couple sliders because I didn’t really need to."
Houston struggled to get anything going off of him. Jesus Guzman doubled with one out in the second before Wilson retired nine in a row. A double by Chris Carter came with one out in the fifth inning, and Wilson sat down 10 straight after that. The Astros finally got on the board when Carlos Corporan launched a 76 mph curveball into the Crawford Boxes in left field for a home run that made it 8-1.
"First-pitch strikes were huge for him and when he did get behind in the count he was able to command some off-speed pitches to get back into the count," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He couldn’t have really done a much better job than he did."
Though he didn’t need his slider to keep the Astros off-balance, he did pull out a seldom-used pitch once to try and handle Guzman.
"His third at-bat I threw him a knuckleball because I literally had no idea what to throw him," Wilson said.
Kendrick drove in two with a single in a three-run first inning. He added an RBI with a single when the Angels tacked on three more in the seventh.
Kole Calhoun homered off Jarred Cosart (1-1), sending a drive to right field for his second shot of the series to push the lead to 4-0 in the fifth inning.
Cosart was done in by a bad first inning where he had to use 32 pitches. He was pulled after allowing three hits, five runs and walking four in six innings.
It was a disappointing second start for the 23-year-old who threw five scoreless frames for the win in his 2014 debut against the Yankees.
"I spotted them three runs and with a lineup like that and with a team like that you can’t do that," he said. "It’s hard for our team to play from behind obviously. I kind of had us back on our heels."
A pair of walks and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases with one out in the first inning for Cosart. A broken-bat groundout by Ibanez sent one home to make it 1-0. Carter had to navigate around the flying piece of bat that stuck in the dirt right near where he fielded the ball.
Kendrick’s single to shallow right field pushed the lead to 3-0 in the first.
Cosart settled down after the first, pitching a perfect second before walking two in a scoreless third and retiring the side in the fourth.
Stewart hit a triple with one out in the sixth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Chris Iannetta that made it 5-0.
Ibanez drove home two with a single to right field off reliever Brad Peacock in the seventh.
— Houston CF Dexter Fowler was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game because of a stomach virus. Fowler, who spent Friday night at Methodist Hospital and was released Saturday, returned to the ballpark on Monday. He said he was feeling better but was still very weak. The already slim Fowler said he knows he has lost some weight but hadn’t stepped on the scale because he didn’t want to know how much he’d dropped. Manager Bo Porter isn’t sure when he’ll return to the lineup.
— Los Angeles LHP Hector Santiago opposes Seattle’s James Paxton when the Angels open a series against the Mariners on Tuesday.
— The Astros send LHP Brett Oberholtzer to the mound against Mark Buerhle when they open a series at Toronto on Tuesday.