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Pinpoint control escapes Wilson in Game 5

Pinpoint control escapes Wilson in Game 5

NEW YORK -- After struggling with his control throughout the regular season, C.J. Wilson managed to spot his pitches well enough in his first two postseason starts. But the wildness returned in the Rangers' Game 5 loss of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday.

Pitching with a chance to lift the Rangers to their first World Series, Wilson walked four batters -- one intentionally -- and threw only 48 of his 93 pitches for strikes in the Rangers' 7-2 loss to the Yankees. In five innings, Wilson allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits, two of which were home runs, and struck out two. With the win, the Yankees forced a Game 6 -- to be played on Friday in Arlington.

"How much time you got?" Wilson said when asked what bothered him most about his performance. "I had a couple of bad walks. That's frustrating. The broken bats went for hits today. That's frustrating. I didn't get ahead in the count. All that stuff added together, mixed up, leads to a lot of runs allowed."

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Wilson settled for a no-decision in Game 1 after the bullpen wasted his three-run, two-walk performance in seven-plus innings. On Wednesday, the left-hander had no one to blame but himself. He started 15 of the 25 batters he faced with a ball, and all three of his unintentional walks came around to score.


Trouble began in the bottom of the second, when Wilson walked Alex Rodriguez on four pitches. After a popout, Lance Berkman also walked on four pitches before Jorge Posada singled in Rodriguez. Then Curtis Granderson singled in the Yankees' second run, and a Jeff Francoeur throwing error on the play put Wilson and the Rangers in a 3-0 hole.

"It was the walks," Wilson said. "The walk to A-Rod to lead off that second inning was just poison."

"I think the difference with C.J., the second inning, he couldn't throw the ball over the plate," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You start putting those guys on, they do what they do and they make you pay for it."

Wilson, who won Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the Rays, walked 93 batters during the regular season, the most in the Junior Circuit. Only San Francisco's Jonathan Sanchez, who issued 96 free passes, walked more. Wilson's walk rate of 4.10 per nine innings was the third highest in baseball. He had four walks in 13 1/3 postseason innings entering Wednesday's start.

"I was losing curveballs," said Wilson, who added he had trouble with both his footing and mechanics. "My cutter was low, my cutter was too far in or it didn't cut enough. Every pitch had three little wrinkles on it. I threw some good curveballs down, I hung some curveballs up and away. Each pitch had one or two layers of mistakes."

After allowing only 10 home runs in 204 innings during the regular season, Wilson served up back-to-back homers to Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano to start the third. For the first time since May 18, Wilson allowed two homers in one start.

"The home runs, in a vacuum, two solo home runs isn't that big of a deal," Wilson said. "It was the three I gave up in the inning before that was the poison to the mojo."

Wilson started the fifth inning, which would end up being his last, with a walk to Swisher. After a flyout, Wilson surrendered a ground-rule double to Rodriguez and an intentional walk to Marcus Thames to load the bases. The Yankees' sixth run came on a Berkman sacrifice fly, and Wilson had dug the Rangers in too deep a hole.

"Really, what it boils down to is that when I went for the corner, I didn't get it," Wilson said. "And if I thought I hit my spot, it might not have been perfect enough to get the call. That's the problem when you try to live on the corners. Eventually, you have to throw a strike. You can't just throw a free-pass party."

As for the surface on the Yankee Stadium mound, Wilson said it was nothing new.

"I have had problems with it before," Wilson said. "It was a little bit below average for me. It still doesn't make me throw the ball down the middle.

"That's a good lineup. You can't just go out there and spot them runs. I gift-wrapped three or four runs for them. That's just not very good."

Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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