Wilson shuts out Rays on 5 hits, 6-0
The Los Angeles Angels' left-hander scattered five hits in his second career shutout and Grant Green homered in a 6-0 victory Saturday night. Wilson threw 127 pitches, struck out five and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by inducing his third double-play grounder of the game.
''I happened to throw a lot of pitches because I can manipulate my mechanics to take stress off here and there, try to change speeds and not throw every pitch as hard as I can,'' Wilson said. ''I was throwing the ball harder in the eighth and ninth than I was in the sixth and seventh. You reserve a little bit in the tank, and then you're able to kind of let it loose.''
Two seasons ago, the Angels built an 8-0 lead for Wilson against Tampa Bay before he allowed seven runs in the fifth inning and ended up with a no-decision as the Rays won 10-8 at Angel Stadium. This time, there would be no comeback.
''They're a weird team,'' Wilson said. ''They swing the bats and they're very aggressive - but sometimes when they're ahead in the count, they won't chase anything. So you have to throw really, really good strikes.
''The guy that hits me really well is Ben Zobrist, and he's not in the lineup (because of a dislocated thumb), so I was a little excited about that. I've made some bad pitches to him over the years. (Evan) Longoria hit a home run off me a couple of years ago - and I'm still chapped about that. So you remember some of the successes and failures against the individual guys.''
The two-time All-Star lefty has made 80 starts since his previous shutout and complete game, which was at Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sept. 6, 2011, while pitching for Texas. The former Rangers reliever was converted into a starter in 2010, and has gone the distance seven times in 149 career starts.
''I'd been campaigning for that for two years,'' Wilson said. ''I'd been knocking on the door and it finally opened, so I felt like I broke through. As a starter, you've got to be committed to being physically fit and also mentally prepared.''
Wilson (5-3), who came in leading the majors with 116.3 pitches per start, threw just 75 through the first six innings before singles by Longoria and Yunel Escobar and a walk to Logan Forsythe loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. But Rays RBI leader James Loney grounded into a double play on the next pitch.
''I made a couple of pitches with guys on base to get out of jams, and that was huge,'' Wilson said. ''But the defense really bailed me out more than anything. They made some really good plays behind me. And the offense gave me six runs to work with, which is plenty - especially when it's in the first three innings like that.''
Cesar Ramos (1-3) lasted only 35 pitches, getting charged with four runs and four hits through 1 1-3 innings in his seventh start since he was inserted into the rotation to replace the injured Matt Moore.
In the second, Ramos plunked No. 9 hitter Luis Jimenez just below the left knee with a pitch that bounced on the grass first. Collin Cowgill followed with a sharp single to the right of shortstop Escobar and continued to second on rookie center fielder Kevin Kiermaier's throw to third.
Manager Joe Maddon lifted Ramos at that point and brought in Brandon Gomes, who gave up a sacrifice fly to Mike Trout and an opposite-field ground-rule double by Albert Pujols that landed just inside the right field line.
It was Pujols' 535th career double, breaking a tie with Lou Gehrig for 34th place. It also ended an RBI drought of nine games and 39 at-bats by the two-time NL MVP since his run-scoring single against the Yankees' Shawn Kelley on May 6 at Angel Stadium.
''The bounced hit batter, I was kind of concerned about that - and I thought it was really important to keep it where it was,'' Maddon said. ''In general, we just have not been hitting lefties well. And if you look at Wilson's overall numbers against the guys in this particular lineup, I didn't see us scoring a whole lot of runs against him.''
Green, who came to the Angels last July in a trade that sent Alberto Callaspo to Oakland, made it 6-0 in the third with his homer to left-center after a two-out double by Chris Iannetta. Green has two home runs in 174 career at-bats. The other one came on Sept. 2, 2013, a solo shot against Tampa Bay's Josh Lueke at Angel Stadium as a pinch-hitter for Aybar.
NOTES: Lueke was brought in to face Trout with the bases loaded in the sixth and struck him out. He then retired Pujols on a fielder's choice grounder to short for the third out. ... Kiermaier, who was recalled from Triple-A Durham after CF Desmond Jennings went on the bereavement list following Friday night's loss, singled in the sixth for his first major league hit.