Among the various ancillary benefits of Nelson Cruz homering in the 10th yesterday is that we aren't being subjected to a barrage of "C.J. Wilson sucks" talk. At least, not as much as there would have been if the Rangers had lost.
I've mentioned before that I find it fascinating how quickly much of the fanbase has turned on a guy who has been, with the exception of the 2008 season, a pretty solid reliever for the Rangers. I'm not sure what has led to this hostility...if it is C.J.'s personality, if it is flameout as closer last year, or if it is just unrealistic expectations, the way he was hyped as being a future All-Star that have people being disappointed with him just being a good reliever.
And last night is the perfect example...reading the game day threads, there was the inevitable whining when he came into the game, and
the complaints when he gave up a co uple of hits. Here's C.J. blowing the game again...
C.J.'s not the guy who struggled to throw strikes yesterday, though. That was Jason Jennings, who came in, had issues with his control, gave up a long blast to Miguel Tejada for a double, walked Jeff Keppinger, of all people, and ended up having C.J. come in with runners on the corners with two outs.
C.J. faced five batters last night. He threw 11 pitches -- 10 strikes, 1 ball. He got Michael Bourn to hit a chopper on the right side of the infield, but because Chris Davis was playing in to guard against the bunt, it made it through for a single to right.
After striking out Lance Berkman in the 8th, Wilson gave up a grounder to third base by Carlos Lee, that should have been a routine out. But because Michael Young was standing on the third base line to guard against the double, rather than where he's normally positioned, what would have been a routine out was a single into left. He then gave up a line drive single to Hunter Pence that led to Darren O'Day being summoned from the pen.
But here's the thing...you can't demand that pitchers throw strikes and pitch to contact, and then torque out when those pitchers give up singles, particularly not-particularly-well-hit singles like Bourn and Lee got yesterday. Wilson did what we've been wanting him to do all along...he came in, trusted his stuff, and threw strikes.
If he does that, he's going to be successful. But if he does that, he's also going to give up some hits from time to time. The fact that happened yesterday doesn't mean that C.J. failed or that he sucked, as much as certain message board posters and post-game talk-show callers want to think.
People need to chill out when it comes to C.J. He's not a dominant closer or the lock-down setup man some thought he'd be. But he's not bad, either...he's a guy who has been fine in the bullpen for the Rangers, and who should be cut some slack.