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CBSSports.com Senior Baseball Columnist

Any win, even in May, is important for these disappointing Angels


'There's no benefit to try to make it emotional,' C.J. Wilson says. (AP)  
'There's no benefit to try to make it emotional,' C.J. Wilson says. (AP)  

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Oh, boy. Booooo! You could just see this one coming from a mile away. Booooo! You think the Angels are stuck in a rut this season? Booooo!

You (not Yu) should see them in Texas.

Two games in, trying to slow the Rangers from wrapping up the division by Mother's Day, and apparently C.J. Wilson is the only man in their rotation.

The Angels started him Friday. Booooo! They started him again Saturday. Booooo!

Manager Mike Scioscia claims to have Jered Weaver lined up for Sunday night's series finale. Maybe. Just for fun, he should taunt the Rangers and their fans by tossing C.J. to the wolves again.

Hey, it worked in a 4-2 win Saturday, one night after Wilson's 22-pitch start was washed away in a torrential rainstorm.

"I can't say enough about what C.J. did," Scioscia said. "He pitched his heart out."

And he pitched the Angels' hearts back up to speed.

Nothing has come easy for these guys this year. Every pitch is a battle. Every win is an epic struggle. Every break in the clouds leads to questions of whether this is the day when things reverse course for them.

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So it was on Saturday.

"This is an important game for a number of reasons," Scioscia said. "There was some situational hitting, Howie Kendrick came up and drove the ball the other way for a sac fly, Mike Trout came up against a tough pitcher and drove the ball for a sac fly, in between we got bunts down."

He talked about Torii Hunter taking a two-out walk and Mark Trumbo belting a two-run homer and said that "these things have to appear in your offense on a consistent basis. We'll see how it goes."

Unmentioned was Albert Pujols, whose absolutely astounding struggles continue, which is no small reason why the men who followed Wilson to the mound -- Jordan Walden, Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs -- were also some of those important reasons the manager listed.

"It's going to be essential to us. We need depth in the back end of the pen," Scioscia said. "We've got two power arms now with Jordan back to throwing the way he can and with Ernie coming on board."

So far, the Angels have produced, statistically, one of the worst bullpens in the majors. Combine that with Pujols' massive struggles and the misfiring of the rest of the lineup, and that's why the Angels continue to plod along as the single most disappointing team in the majors.

There is no teeth here. The Angels are 0-14 in games in which they trail after seven innings.

There are no claws here. The Angels are 0-13 when they are out-hit by their opponent.

There is no ka-boom here. The Angels are 1-16 when scoring three runs or less.

This is why their bullpen is so important. When they have a chance to win, it's usually a close game with zero margin for error. Acquiring Frieri from the Padres last week already looks like a good move.

"Whooo, good stuff and good deception," Downs said. "He's going to be a guy who can help us out. He'll be another guy who can bridge the gap.

"It looks like things might be settling in."

But there have been many false starts already. And no small part of the reason the Angels are living on the edge is the colossal ongoing disappointment that is Pujols. He's down to .195, with a .236 on-base percentage and a .278 slugging percentage.

He has grounded out either to third base or to shortstop in 39 of 133 at-bats so far (29 percent). And when he finally drew an eighth-inning walk Saturday, it was his first in 61 plate appearances dating back to April 25.

"He's certainly conscious of it," Scioscia said. "He talks about it. But sometimes you can't force walks. It's just going to be a byproduct of swinging better and seeing the ball better."

Wins in May rarely are as badly needed as this one was. The Angels, already feeling lousy about themselves, would have fallen back to nine games behind the Rangers in the AL West with a loss, matching a season high.

Then there is Wilson. Already driven out of town by a Rangers organization that long ago decided Yu Darvish would be a significant upgrade, the guy is not exactly Mr. Popular around these parts despite earning 43 wins and 52 saves in Texas between 2005 and 2011.

Viewed as arrogant, egg-headed and an excuse-maker by Texas fans wary of his smarts and often condescending tone, Wilson called Friday a "dry run" in "emotionally" prepping for Saturday.

"I'm just trying to get the hitters out," said Wilson, who, because of the rain, became the first man in the majors since Aaron Myette in 2002 to start games on consecutive days. "There's no benefit to try to make it emotional. You try to de-personalize it as much as possible."

But. ...

"You guys should stick a microphone out there and listen to it," he continued. "It would be very interesting. You should make a manuscript of it. It's just weird. ... You do everything you can to de-personalize it. You're not going to go out there and put your headphones on. You hear it, but you just tune it out."

He wasn't great, but he was good enough. Wilson was charged with two runs in 5 2/3 innings and left with the score tied 2-2.

It was decided during Friday night's rain delay that Wilson would leave the park early, get some rest and start again on Saturday. He lobbied hard to do so, he said. He wanted to face the Rangers because "I did a lot of homework on them and wanted to put it to use."

"Last night was really funny," he said. "After I finished warming up, there was one dude who stood there the whole time and was like, 'I don't believe these people are saying stuff like that in the stands. And he was like, 'Dude, way to tune that out.' That was impressive. And he started clapping. One guy. ... Then some girl cried out, 'I love you!' And I'm like, OK, two people.

"So there was a really brave dozen people here who are fans, and another 47,954 who obviously were clamoring to see me fail."

Though he yielded six runs in six innings Friday and Saturday, Wilson helped steer the Angels to a split of the first two games. Which, at this point, they'll take.

"I'm going to have to get used to this hostile feeling," said Wilson, who signed a five-year, $77.5 million deal with the Angels in December. "Because for the next five years, it's going to be the same thing."


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