C.J. Wilson battles cold weather for first win
MINNEAPOLIS — In the miserable heat of summer, the
temperatures in Arlington, Texas, typically rise as the afternoon gets longer.
In the early spring of Minneapolis, it's just darn cold.
Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson was born and reared in Orange County, pitched seven
seasons in Arlington for the Texas Rangers and got a primer on hot-weather
cities as he worked his way through the minor leagues – places like Tulsa, Okla.,
Bakersfield, Calif., and Frisco, Texas.
But you can't prepare for 45-degree temperatures and wind gusts blowing from
left to right at up to 28 mph. You just throw your best stuff and hope they hit
it at someone.
Wilson's seven-inning performance Monday afternoon at Target Field looks better
on paper than it played out on the field. But he endured the cold, dry elements
in his first start with the Angels, a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins that
drew them even at 2-2 in the season's first week.
"It's a much different situation than pitching in Southern California or
Texas or Arizona," Wilson said. "But both teams have to deal with it,
so you just go out there and make adjustments however you can — lick your fingers or blow on your hand a
little bit or use a little more rosin or a little less rosin.
"This isn't what I grew up with, so I don't really feel really comfortable
with it, which is why my control was a little bit suspect today."
Erratic is what he was, and that's how manager Mike Scioscia described him.
Wilson walked three batters in his final 24 1/3 innings of spring training, but
he walked four in seven innings on Monday. If it wasn't for his defense and the
fact the Angels finally put some runs on the board early, things might have
"When it's a little chilly and a little dry, obviously your grip is going
to be an issue," Scioscia said. "But I don't really know how much it
was affecting C.J. He was out of sync a little bit. The only real fly in the
ointment were the base on balls. But he pitched around them, he did well and we
turned some double plays. He had good stuff and pitched deep into the
The Angels needed it. After winning their season opener last Friday night, they
dropped two in a row at home to the Kansas City Royals, who jumped on starters
Dan Haren and Ervin Santana early over the weekend. Sunday, the Angels were 0-for-13
with runners in scoring position.
In the Twins' afternoon home opener, the Angels did what they were unable to against
the Royals. They scored twice in the first inning and gave Wilson some early
"It's the best," Wilson said. "When you're the visiting pitcher
and your team scores in the first inning like that, it puts so much pressure on
the home team. I was able to go out there and get out of the first inning
scoreless, and then it gives everybody on the team confidence.
"Even though it was a close game for the most part, up until the seventh
inning really, we'll take any runs we can get. The last couple of games we've
been behind pretty much the whole time."
The Angels aren't exactly blowing out their opponents. They used a squeeze bunt
by Erick Aybar in the seventh to drive in the final run of a three-run inning —
the first two coming on a double by Chris Iannetta . Meanwhile, Albert Pujols
hit four ground balls to third base, Howie Kendrick was 0-for-4 and no one went
Defensively, at least, they were solid. Wilson didn't give up a fly ball out
and helped himself when he induced Justin Morneau to hit a come-backer in the
third with runners at second and third and two outs. Aybar started a double
play in the ninth when he caught a low line drive off the bat of Ryan Doumit.
Wilson's only significant slip was a change-up up in the strike zone that Josh
Willingham drove over the fence in left-center to start the bottom of the fourth.
Otherwise, Wilson’s biggest obstacle was coping with the wind and cold.
"At this point in the season, nobody is used to pitching in cold weather
because we're all coming out of spring training," Wilson said. "I
just tried to challenge myself to get ahead of guys."
He did enough of that. Maybe next time he'll get a heat wave.