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October 7, 2010

C.J. Wilson


Texas Rangers – 6
Tampa Bay Rays - 0

Q. C.J., how many hitters in that lineup would you say that you're actually concerned about when you're pitching?
C.J. WILSON: All of them. I mean, every guy in that lineup, even guys that get switched in at the last minute on the roster I'm concerned about. I mean, obviously you don't just -- you don't take a breather and just throw the ball down the middle. I'm out there trying to make a pitch every single time, trying to be perfect. That's just what it's all about.
Watching Cliff yesterday and watching Roy Halladay last night, I had some inspiration, so it was pretty fun. But with guys like Crawford, Bartlett getting on base, that has a little bit of a factor, as well, got to go from the slide step, prevent the stolen base and all that. But I was lucky to come up with some really big pitches in situations where there was guys on base and the game was tight, especially early, getting Longoria out with a guy on base and all that stuff.

Q. Aside from the inspiration you got from watching Lee, what were a couple of things that you learned in watching the way that he approached their lineup that you were able to really use today?
C.J. WILSON: Well, some of that is proprietary technology that I'm not allowed to share because it's team secrets. No, Cliff is a better version of me. He throws a little bit harder, he's a little bit taller, has a little bit smaller waist, so I try to follow his lead on a lot of stuff. I just watched him kind of work in and out with his fastball, and from there I was able to see which guys maybe it was necessary to go in on and which guys it wasn't, and that had a big factor today.
Obviously I made a mistake in with Bartlett, I hit him, but I'm trying to throw that ball pretty much where I did, he just leaned into it.
Cliff is the perfect guy for me to stream off of because he doesn't walk anybody and that's really my weakness is I put guys on base unnecessarily. I have good stuff so I can challenge guys the way he does, but it's something you get more and more comfortable with that as you see somebody that has pretty much the same stuff as you do it right in front of you, so that was the big thing.

Q. Can you talk about the last at-bat and what you were trying to do?
C.J. WILSON: Yeah, I mean, right there I had a couple of bats against them earlier. The bat where I walked him, I threw the pitch almost where I wanted to -- if I threw the pitch right where I wanted to it's for sure a strike out looking. I had that finishing sequence in my head.
It's like when you play chess, you sort of remember what moves set up other moves, and I had that in the back of my head knowing, okay, I'm going to hit my spot this time. I'm not going to try to do too much. Last time I tried to throw a sinker and it kind of cut, and that time I just threw a four seamer straight away. I brought Treanor out to the mound because I was like I haven't thrown him a four seamer the whole at-bat. I'm like screw it, we're just going with that. We're just going to go right there.
I had thrown him some curve balls that he swung and missed on, I'd thrown him some cutters that he had fouled off, throw him some sinkers that he fouled off and stuff, and changes that I'd missed with. So I was like, you know, I'll throw him the one thing -- the most simple, elegant solution to this whole thing is just boom, strike right there. If he hits it, he hits it, but I'm definitely not walking him this time. I'm throwing him a strike, and that's what happened.

Q. About Michael Young, he played a lot of games waiting to get here. Can you describe a little bit about how you and maybe some of your teammates felt in seeing him get that three-run homer?
C.J. WILSON: Well, I'm not in the dugout during our offensive stuff, I'm kind of in the back just trying to zone in, trying to relax and stuff. But I heard some controversy, I heard the fans kind of boo or whatever and then the next thing I heard was a whack, and our dugout went crazy. I saw it on replay.
But the thing is about Mike, like he's trying really hard, so we could tell if he had struck out or whatever yesterday, it's like he's like, man, I'm here, I'm in the playoffs, what I've always wanted, what I've wanted with this team. Because the thing is Mike is our backbone. We've built our team around him for the last couple years, actually the past ten years, I guess, if you really think about it, past ten seasons.
And in that 1,500 games or whatever it was, that's him playing 150 or 160 games every year. He's our Derek Jeter or our Cal Ripken or whatever, that's our guy. We rely on him for all sorts of stuff. But he's got tremendous work ethic and we knew it was just a matter of time before he came up big on offense, because he'd made some really great plays on defense already.
So I was excited obviously because to have that cushion is huge, but our offense just has weapons 1 through 9 and even guys on the bench. We have guys on the bench that can come up and hit a home run or steal a base or whatever. We've been watching it for the last couple years. We watched these guys develop and watched these guys zone in, and Mike is just absolutely -- like I said, I mean, he's the captain, the backbone, everything. To see him succeed in that situation, in a huge situation for us as a team, is awesome. Individually, like everybody has that extra little fist pump inside, you know, just that relief of, okay, Mike got his hit, Mike drove us runs in or whatever. Now anything is possible. That's kind of the way we look at it.

Q. Talk about the difference for this team between last year and this year in terms of its bent, not break, results.
C.J. WILSON: Well, I think the pieces that we've exchanged, bringing in Vlady and bringing in Darren Oliver, having that veteran presence out there, it keeps everybody calm because we know that we can count on these guys to come up and influence the other team, influence the game.
And when there's trouble going on, I think a lot of us have experienced that. Like when you first come into the league, you fail. You come up there and maybe you succeed, maybe you fail. But then you kind of get an idea of what it takes for you to succeed, whether it's like maybe certain lefties are going to be cheating on your breaking ball or whatever. And as you go along, you get used to pitching with guys on base, you get used to pitching out of jams, and the only way to do that is just to be thrown into the fire. Last year a lot of guys got thrown into the fire. For the last couple of years, I was thrown into the fire in the bullpen.
So now when there's a guy on base or whatever, I'm like, you know, I've gotten out of this before. I've struck my way out of bases loaded, no outs, I've done whatever I've had to do in extreme situations. And also yielded to the bullpen and trusted that O'Day and Ollie and guys like that are going to come in and clean up my mess, which they did, so it's awesome.
I think it's kind of a hive mind. We have 25 guys on the team and everybody is in focus and they're going after every pitch. It's crazy. It's -- the energy, I've never been around anything like it, and it's just that much better than it was last year.

Q. How would you describe the mood of your team right now being up 2-0 and heading home?
C.J. WILSON: Very positive, very confident. We play well at home. I don't know if we're going to be wearing the red jerseys or the white jerseys or whatever, but everybody is happy. It's like once the seal breaks and we get that first hit, we get that first run, you see the energy just spike in the clubhouse. Everybody is doing the claw and we're all having fun. This is the most fun a lot of us have ever had playing on the team before. It's just a great group of guys, and that's the big thing. We are all pulling for each other, so it's just very positive.

Q. Did you learn anything watching Cliff Lee pitch yesterday about the Rays' batters and how did that affect you today?
C.J. WILSON: Cliff is great with throwing his fastball for strikes. He's great at getting ahead in the count, he's great at working both sides of the plate. The thing I try to draft on him is figuring out which guys he's going to go in on, which guys I can go in on because of that.
Some guys you have to keep more honest than others. Some guys are going to go up there and really just sort of cheat, so you've just got to kind of figure out -- because him and I are so similar in terms of the package, the fastball is pretty similar, the sinker is pretty similar, everything is close enough that I can just sort of monkey see, monkey do on his success. And if a guy gets a hit off him, I can be like, well, I'm not going to do that. So that's pretty much how it goes.

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