Against the Tigers -- a team that touched him for eight runs in 10 2/3 innings through two playoff starts last season -- he couldn't do the same. He gave up five runs with two outs and allowed them to go 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position, putting his team in a 5-0 hole after the first two innings and giving them little chance against an explosive Fister.
With that, the Angels (50-42) fell to 2-4 in the second half and failed to gain a game against the losing Rangers, instead staying 5 1/2 games back in the American League West.
"They got a couple of key hits with guys on base," Wilson said. "That's been a specialty of mine is avoiding that the last three months of the season. That was the shortcoming of the game tonight, for me."
In the first, Delmon Young capped a two-out rally with an RBI single. In a game-changing, four-run second inning, Wilson was forced to throw 25 pitches to eight batters, and he and came a few inches away from escaping with little to no damage.
Brennan Boesch led off with his first of two doubles -- "Boesch was the only guy who really drove the ball today," Wilson said -- then Gerald Laird walked and Danny Worth singled, meaning the Tigers had loaded the bases with the bottom of their order.
With one out, Ryan Raburn hit a two-hopper up the middle that shortstop Erick Aybar fielded but didn't flip in time to second baseman Howie Kendrick, who sprinted back to the bag late but probably wouldn't have beaten the runner anyway. A few inches to Aybar's right, and it may be an inning-ending double play. Instead ...
The next batter, Miguel Cabrera, hit a ground ball to the left side of Kendrick, who double-clutched the throw to second base and instead had to get the out at first. An inch or two to his
right, and it may be another inning-ending double play. Instead ...
"There's a couple things like that that over the course of the season where you hope that those good bounces go your way," Wilson said, after running his ERA to 2.82. "Tonight, they didn't."
There were no such excuses for the next four runs, though. The next batter in that second inning, Prince Fielder, scorched a base hit to center field that drove in two and gave the Tigers a 5-1 lead. Then, in the fifth, Boesch hit a two-out, two-run double down the left-field line that put Detroit up six.
Manager Mike Scioscia felt Wilson struggled with his command and "the feel of the baseball."
"He does a lot with the baseball," Scioscia said. "He relies on some movement, he can move the ball around. At times, he's going to pitch out of the zone, and he's successful doing it. A game like tonight, when he really crossed that line and gets over that edge, it'll show up."
It's that movement that makes Wilson so effective, especially with men on base. But it's that movement that's also responsible for all the free passes he gives up.
From 2010-11, his first two years as a big league starter, Wilson had the 11th-highest walks-per-nine-innings rate in baseball. This spring, he strove to improve on that. So far, he hasn't. He's walked three or more batters in 10 of his 20 starts, and his total for the season (56) ranks fourth in the AL.
"Obviously, if I knew why my command was not 100 percent, then I would fix it," Wilson said. "But it's just changes. Sometimes it's little things. Sometimes you throw the ball right where you want it and there's a difference of opinion; sometimes you throw the ball a little bit off of where you want it and then with movement, it makes it hard to frame or whatever. There's a lot of different factors. But tonight, I was behind in the count on too many hitters, so that's just a bad trend in the Major Leagues."
Wilson got little support anyway. One night after the Angels set a season high in homers (five) and hits (18) in a 13-0 thrashing, Fister stifled them, hurling eight innings of one-run ball that saw him strike out a season-high 10 and walk just two.
His only mistake was a 1-0, down-the-middle fastball to Albert Pujols in the first inning, which the Angels' first baseman hit out for his 17th homer of the year and his fourth in the last seven games.
Shortly after that, Fister was spotted a four-run lead and never looked back.
"He had some good stuff, especially the first two innings," outfielder Torii Hunter said. "And then he just started hitting his spots."
"When you consider who he's pitching against and what they did last night, I think it was really a well-needed effort for us and we got it," Tigers skipper Jim Leyland said. "It was a very good effort. He looked like Fister."