ARLINGTON, Texas For the second day in a row, Angels starter C.J. Wilson presented himself as a target for booing and a lot more from angry Texas Rangers fans.
“You guys should stick a microphone out there and listen to it,” Wilson said to reporters afterward. “It would be very interesting.”
After his Friday start was halted at 22 pitches because of a two-hour rain delay, Wilson started Saturday’s game as well. They were the first and second times Wilson had appeared in Arlington since leaving the Rangers and signing with the Angels in the offseason.
Wilson took the loss in Friday’s start but came back with a strong 5 23 innings Saturday in a 4-2 Angels win. Wilson exited with the score tied, 2-2, three batters after giving up a home run to Josh Hamilton.
Wilson said it wasn’t that difficult, physically, to come back and start a second day since the bulk of his major league career has been as a reliever.
“Emotionally, I obviously had a dry run yesterday to see what it was going to feel like and hear the fans and their colorful insights on me and my career and what not,” Wilson said. “I’m just trying to get the hitters out. There’s no benefit to make it emotional. You try to de-personalize it as much as possible and that’s what I’ve been working on doing all year.”
Wilson started shaky by issuing two walks in front of the blistering-hot Hamilton, who hit his 18th homer Saturday. But in the first inning, Wilson struck out Hamilton and induced a double play.
He cruised for the next three innings, but in the fifth a Wilson pitch hit Mike Napoli with two outs. Napoli, victim of an off-season prank in which Wilson tweeted his personal phone number, later scored after back-to-back singles.
Wilson also got to two outs in the sixth, but gave up a walk to put two on for Napoli and was pulled.
“I can’t say enough for what C.J. did,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He pitched his heart out getting that deep into the game against a lineup that’s really swinging the bat well.”
Wilson recorded four strikeouts and was charged with five hits and three walks, all while working with catcher John Hester for the first time. Hester had just been called up from Triple-A.
“CJ really pitched with a lot of heart,” Scioscia said. “Even when he was getting tired a little bit later, he made pitches.”
Now all that’s left for Wilson to do on his return trip to Texas is pick up his American League Championship ring, the second one he earned with the Rangers. Unlike with some former Rangers, there will be on on-field ceremony to present the ring.
“Yeah, I’m sure that would go over real well,” Wilson joked.
Instead, Wilson said he will go to Rangers manager Ron Washington’s office to pick up the ring. Don’t expect that to be much of a production, either.
“That chapter in my life is closed,” Wilson said. “I’m happy for everything that I experienced over there and all the players and stuff, I respect them all because they’re all very good and they all played hard when I pitched.”
Despite playing a major role in helping the Rangers to their first two World Series appearances, Wilson doesn’t expect to get a warm welcome again in Arlington.
“I’m going to have to get used to this hostile feeling because for the next five years it’s going to be the same thing,” Wilson said. “We’re going to be in the same division, division rivalry and all that stuff. I guess it’s good to get two starts out of the way to get a real good feeling of what it’s going to be like, and I’m probably sure it’s never going to change.
Wilson said he tried to tune out the negativity from the fans, but he could still hear the venom. He also heard a few encouraging comments from the masses.
“There’s a really brave dozen people here that still are a fan, apparently,” Wilson said. “And then there’s 47,954 people that are obviously clamoring to see me fail.”
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire