Wilson laments pitches that followed funny hop
Tigers' sixth inning stings Rangers lefty after double off third base
DETROIT -- C.J. Wilson won't blame the third-base bag. He won't blame Lady Luck.
The Rangers' ace just knows he needed to make a couple better pitches after Miguel Cabrera's grounder bad-hopped over third baseman Adrian Beltre's head in a disastrous sixth inning that led to a 7-5 victory for the Tigers in Thursday's Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park.
As it stood, a potential double play turned instead into a double and Detroit proceeded to break things open with a four-run rally that kept the Tigers alive, though still needing to win two more when the series moves to Rangers Ballpark for the weekend.
"Literally a bad bounce," Wilson said of Cabrera's momentum-changing two-bagger. "But with that said, even with that play, it's 3-2 and we're still in the game. I didn't make the right pitches to get out of the inning in time and that's really all there is to it."
Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez followed with a triple just beyond the glove of diving right fielder Nelson Cruz before Delmon Young crushed a two-run blast that made it 6-2 in a hurry.
The consecutive single, double, triple and home run constituted the first "natural cycle" in postseason history, helped, of course, by the weird two-bagger by Cabrera.
"There's been some weird stuff that has happened in this series," said Wilson, whose Game 1 start was hampered by a pair of lengthy rain delays in Arlington. "It's whoever has the rabbit's foot that day or whoever gets the bounce. But we've had some bounces go our way, too, so it's not like it's exclusive to one team or anything like that."
Though he was throwing the ball well for the first five frames, Wilson was bitten by the long-ball bug. He wound up surrendering three home runs -- including solo shots by Alex Avila and Young -- to raise his postseason total to six after allowing just 16 during the regular season.
Avila's home run in the third and Young's initial pop in the fourth both came on first pitches.
"They're an aggressive team," Wilson said. "They're not one of those teams that is going to sit there and try to draw walks all day. They hit home runs, they hit for power."
The one Wilson was kicking himself on was Young's second homer on an 0-1 fastball that capped off the sixth-inning flurry.
"It was a cutter up and in off the strike zone," Wilson said. "It wasn't even a strike. It was a chase pitch and he kept it fair. He just stepped in the bucket and hammered it. Looking back, obviously it was the wrong pitch to throw. It was just a lesson, a very painful lesson for me."
The 30-year-old lefty insisted he wasn't rattled by Cabrera's bag-hop double and had put that behind him when the rally continued.
"The bad bounce is a bad bounce. You can't control something after it happens," he said. "I can't go rake the line or make the base move or anything like that. The ball went over the base and that was it. I was done with it at that point.
"My job was to get the other guys out. I got two strikes on Victor and threw a pitch that was just up enough that he could hit it down the line. If it's down, maybe he whiffs it or even if it's more middle maybe he pops it up. So it was just a pitch where I didn't intend to throw it and he hit it perfectly down the line. Nellie almost caught it. It was just one of those things."
Rangers manager Ron Washington didn't think the not-so-funny hop got to his No. 1 starter either.
"No, I don't think he lost any steam," Washington said. "The ball hits the bag, bad break. Then you have to tip your hat to Martinez. He reached out there and he did what good hitters do. Put the ball in play. When you put the ball in play, sometimes good things happen. A good thing happened there.
"Then he got a ball up to Delmon Young. He's been on a tear swinging the bat, and he caught it. Still at that point, we didn't feel like we were out of the ballgame. We kept battling. We just didn't make it back."
Wilson wasn't happy with the way things played out, but said there's no reason to panic.
"Personally, you always want to do better," he said. "But at the same time, we have a lead going home. So I really don't [care] if I win or lose -- if the team wins then we all win. That's really all that matters.
"It's the same thing in Game 1 against these guys where I felt like it was weird circumstances, but I didn't pitch as well as I wanted to and I know [Justin] Verlander didn't pitch as well as he wanted," Wilson said. "He pitched great tonight and I couldn't dodge those bullets in the sixth inning. He dodged bullets and stayed in the game a long time. He pitched out of some jams and kept himself in the game, so kudos to him."