Angels get much-needed win from Wilson
ANAHEIM, Calif. – It took him 57 days, 11 failed starts and countless hours trying to sort out his problems, but CJ Wilson is finally back.
Now, the big question is: Can he do it again?
Without him, the Angels aren't likely to keep within striking distance of the playoffs, let alone get there. With him, they have a chance.
The six innings he threw Wednesday night against the Boston Red Sox weren't exactly overpowering, but they got the job done. Lifted by four runs in the first inning, one in the second and four more in the third, Wilson won for the first time since June 26.
His 10-3 decision over the Red Sox must have felt satisfying for Wilson, who signed a $77.5-million, five-year free agent contract in the offseason but sat on nine victories for what seemed like an interminable period. He wasn't the only reason the Angels foundered for part of July and most of August, but he was as culpable as anyone.
"It's just good to go out there and give the team what it needed, which was some solid innings, and keep the score down," he said.
The win was the Angels' fifth in a row over the Red Sox, and it came with a benefit: They picked up a game on one of the wild card spots in the American League and now sit 3½ games out.
Is there any doubt that every game holds a measure of importance?
"You can see the end of the season," manager Mike Scioscia said. "You can see down the road where we've got a finite amount of games right now. You're not looking two, three months down the road like you might have been in June. We need to bring it every night. We need to give ourselves a chance to win every night."
Certainly the offense is doing that. The Angels totaled 14 hits, eight of them for extra bases, and chased Boston starter Zach Stewart, whom the Red Sox picked up in the June deal for Kevin Youkilis, after three innings.
Kendrys Morales and Chris Iannetta each hit home runs, and Torii Hunter was 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs.
But the most important development was Wilson, whose record and ERA at the end of June were 9-4 and 2.36. Since then (but before Wednesday), he was 0-5 and 6.09.
"It's a step forward for CJ, definitely," Scioscia said. "He's not quite where he was earlier in the year, but it's a big step forward."
Wilson's only explanation for his slump was that he got away from what was working and began to focus on mechanical adjustments rather than his approach. Wednesday, he got ahead of hitters, threw strikes and didn't give up any extra-base hits.
"I threw a ton of strikes tonight, 72 strikes and 36 balls, so that's one of my better ratios this year," he said. "I'm just trying to work on that and focus on what I can control.
"I can't control the runs or the defense or the umpires, but if I'm throwing the ball down the middle and they're hitting them over the fence, that's my fault. Tonight I didn't do that, so that's why we won."
It's a start for Wilson – or rather, a re-start. But the big test is what he does in five days.