Offensive outburst puts Wilson back in win column

Offensive outburst puts Wilson back in win column

Offensive outburst puts Wilson back in win column
ANAHEIM -- The last time C.J. Wilson won a game, the Angels were one of the hottest teams in baseball, Zack Greinke was still pitching for the Brewers and the baseball world was wondering if Mike Trout would even be an All-Star.

For 11 straight starts dating back to June 26, Wilson wasn't the winning pitcher of record. Sometimes -- like when he gave up five runs in 14 innings during a two-start stretch in early July -- he deserved to be. Other times -- like when he was spotted an eight-run lead in his last home start, then blew it -- you wondered how he wasn't.

But now, at last, it's over.

Spotted an early eight-run lead once again, Wilson kept it simple and attacked the strike zone -- a concept he's often struggled with -- while tossing a quality start as the Angels crushed Red Sox starter Zach Stewart for a 10-3 win on Wednesday night.

Asked about snapping that winless streak, after giving up three runs in six innings, Wilson simply said: "It's just good to go out there and give the team what it needed."

They really didn't need much.

The Angels torched Stewart for nine runs on 10 hits in the first three innings, en route to 14 hits and a season-high six doubles to improve to 5-0 against the Red Sox this season.

Torii Hunter went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs, Kendrys Morales went 2-for-4 with a long two-run homer to cap a four-run first, Chris Iannetta hit a two-run homer to cap a four-run third, Erick Aybar added a couple of doubles and Howard Kendrick extended his hitting streak to 15 with his 10th multihit game this month.

"I just left a few pitches up," said Stewart, who was optioned back to Triple-A after getting roughed up in his first start with the Red Sox. "That was basically the tell-tale of the whole game. Too inconsistent. Those guys are too good of hitters to leave that many pitches over the plate."

When Wilson took the mound for the start of the fourth, the Angels held an eight-run lead, which was eerily familiar to what took place the last time he made a start at Angel Stadium, on Aug. 18. Against the Rays that night, the Angels jumped out to an early eight-run lead, but Wilson gave up seven runs, then watched as the Angels suffered one of their most heartbreaking losses of the season.

This time, it was different.

This time, he kept it simple.

Wilson is able to separate the emotional part of this game like few others, but while navigating through his 11-start skid -- going 0-5 with a 6.09 ERA, while the Angels went 3-8 in those starts -- the left-hander was giving himself fits making adjustments to get back on track. It became counter-productive.

"I didn't have a lot of luck in July, and then I started making all these mechanical adjustments, and then lost my feel for what was really going to work for me," said Wilson, now 10-9 with a 3.86 ERA. "So I was trying to do too much. And sometimes in the quest for trying to be better, you go a little bit in the wrong direction. I can relate it to racing, like you try to change the tire pressure or change the suspension and you're trying to make the car handle better, but it only handles worse."

After giving up seven runs in the fifth in that game against the Rays, Wilson spent hours analyzing every pitch of that inning with pitching coach Mike Butcher.

Prior to Wednesday's start, in very uncharacteristic fashion, Wilson didn't even have a pregame meeting.

"I can have this great scouting report, but if I'm missing my spot by a foot every time, then the scouting report is useless," Wilson said. "I might as well just try to focus on hitting the glove every time and go from there."

Wilson still had what he calls his "Twilight Zone inning" in the fifth, giving up a couple of runs and expending a lot of pitches. But he threw 72 of his 108 pitches for strikes against a Red Sox team that touched him for seven runs in Wednesday's dramatic extra-inning win at Fenway Park, ultimately scattering eight hits, walking two and striking out four.

"It's a step forward for C.J., definitely," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Not quite where he was earlier in the year, but big step forward."

As a whole, the Angels' rotation had struggled mightily for almost two full months, posting a 5.48 ERA that ranked 13th in the American League over a 44-game stretch. But they've turned it around a bit lately, posting a 4.18 ERA in eight games since the start of last week, as the Angels have gone 6-2.

Their latest victory -- on the heels of a walk-off win Tuesday night -- moved them nine games back of the Rangers in the AL West and 3 1/2 back for the final AL Wild Card spot.

Wilson was asked about the team's postseason belief at this point.

"That's why we have the 'P.M.A.' shirts -- the Positive Mental Attitude," Wilson said, pointing to the P.M.A. shirt he always seems to be wearing. "It doesn't matter what the circumstances are, I think we have a lot of guys in here that do have that forward-thinking, 'Oh, well this could happen; this could go our way, this could bounce our way.' And I think that's what's going to stoke our fire the last couple weeks of the season. It's the only chance we have, is to get hot."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.