x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Wilson powerless on the sidelines

CJ Wilson puts Rangers in charge but a couple of errors and a late collapse dashes home hopes.

CJ Wilson watched as his teammates slumped to a 6-5 defeat to the Yankees.
CJ Wilson watched as his teammates slumped to a 6-5 defeat to the Yankees.

CJ Wilson was cruising, doing a nice imitation of his new buddy Cliff Lee.

The "other" lefty in the Texas Rangers' rotation, Wilson opened the American League championship series (ALCS) by retiring seven straight New York Yankees.

He did not give up a hit until the fourth inning and had a shut-out through six.

Then it all fell apart.

Wilson let the first two batters reach in the eighth and left to a nice ovation with Texas ahead by three runs.

By the time the Rangers finally got an out, they were on their fourth reliever - and the Yankees were on their way to a 6-5 victory in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night.

Wilson watched the implosion from the dugout.

Instead of being the winning pitcher in Texas' first-ever playoff victory at home, he was left to wonder about a couple of minor mistakes.

In only his second career play-off outing, Wilson allowed six hits and walked two. He was charged with three runs, but one scored after he was gone. He struck out four, including Alex Rodriguez twice.

Wilson was given the ace-like duty of starting the opener because Lee pitched the finale of the previous round.

The laid-back Californian handled this huge stage as if it was no big deal.

As if former President George W Bush always sits in the front row, as if 50,930 fans always skip a Friday night under the lights of a high school football stadium to watch the Rangers take on the reigning World Series champion Yankees for a spot in the World Series.

He got a pair of groundouts and a strikeout in the first inning, then came out for the second with a 3-0 lead because his teammates jumped on Yankees ace CC Sabathia.

Rodriguez led off and Wilson got him to swing through strike three. "A-Rod" whiffed again before Wilson gave up his first hit, a single to Robinson Cano.

He gave up another hit for his first jam, then got out of it by retiring Jorge Posada.

With the lead up to 5-0 after four innings, Wilson closed an uneventful fifth by coaxing Derek Jeter into a double-play grounder to second base.

Cano led off the seventh with a homer down the right-field line, the first left-hander to homer off Wilson since June 3, 2008. Again, Wilson remained composed, retiring the next three hitters.

But that was it. Brett Gardner opened the eighth by reaching on an infield single, sliding in head-first to barely beat Wilson to the bag. Then Jeter doubled, driving in Gardner and bringing manager Ron Washington out for the first of what proved to be many times that inning.

Wilson is slotted to start Game 5 in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night.