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Last Rangers start for Wilson could be in Game 5

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world-series.jpg By The Associated Pfess
October 24, 2011


ARLINGTON, TX — When C.J. Wilson starts Game 5 of the World Series, it could be his last outing for the Texas Rangers. The left-hander can become a free agent next month.

Wilson insists that he hasn't even "really thought" about what might happen after Monday night.

"I'm just thinking about the team and where we're at and being in the World Series obviously, like there's no extra series after this," Wilson said Sunday before Game 4. "There's no galaxy series or universe series or whatever. Just trying to win (Sunday) and win (Monday) and see what we can do back in St. Louis."

After going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA during the regular season, Wilson is 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA in four postseason starts. He gave up three runs and walked six over 5 2-3 innings in losing Game 1 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

So, just how does Wilson block out questions about free agency?

"As soon as the question gets up, I start thinking about something else. I don't even pay attention to it," Wilson said. "I just picture myself like surfing or whatever, somewhere else. So as soon as you start talking and I hear the word free agency, I just go (hums), and I don't let it register. You've got to think about it this way, right: There's nothing I can do to control, like, what happens, what any team offers me or what any team wants from me or whatever.

"I'm obviously not going to be a second baseman or a closer or a right fielder. That's the only thing I'm certain about, is that I'm going to be a left-handed pitcher next year," he said. "Who it's for, I don't know yet."

FINDING A WAY

Josh Hamilton is still hurting - and still contributing for the Texas Rangers.

Hamilton, who has acknowledged that he might be playing with a sports hernia, put Texas ahead to stay in Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night when he lined an RBI double into the right-field corner that sent Elvis Andrus home in the first inning.

"It was great to see that," teammate David Murphy said. "For what he's dealing with right now, he's playing through some pain, he's doing a great job. He's obviously a big-time presence in the middle of our lineup. He had a huge hit in the first inning. You take Josh Hamilton at 75 percent over most guys at 100 percent and he's showing why."

Rangers manager Ron Washington has steadfastly kept Hamilton in the lineup throughout the postseason. Hamilton remains third in the batting order, primarily playing center field, despite the grimaces and sometimes awkward swings for the slugger. Hamilton said he won't even get an MRI or any tests to confirm his injury until after the season.

Even though Hamilton hasn't homered in 57 postseason at-bats, his double Sunday night helped the Rangers win 4-0 to even the Series at two games each.

When Hamilton struck out swinging at an off-speed pitch in the fifth, he hopped around on one leg while going across the plate into the other batter's box. Two innings later, he had a hard liner to center for an out.

"Josh is making good contact," Rangers DH Michael Young said. "We're not worried about Josh. He's going to be fine."

Hamilton tied Game 2 with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning before Young followed with one of his own as the Rangers pulled out a 2-1 victory in St. Louis.

NICE VIEW

Matt Holliday had the best seat in the house for perhaps the greatest offensive performance in World Series history.

He was watching from the on-deck circle as Albert Pujols hit three homers, drove in six runs, compiled five hits and finished with a record 14 total bases Saturday night in Game 3.

"When he gets in that zone and that confidence is there, it's fun to watch," Holliday said.

Holliday said that once Pujols got on a roll, he expected it to continue. It started with a pair of singles, followed by three straight homers, all on fastballs from different pitchers.

"He's the best I've seen at what I call piling on," Holliday said. "He gets that fourth, fifth hit."

Pujols' third homer tied a World Series record set by Babe Ruth (twice) and matched previously by only Reggie Jackson (in 1977). The offensive outburst set or tied a litany of records, so many that they were still being recited over the press box PA system when the Cardinals were in the field. Because the system was played in the auxiliary press box behind left field, Holliday heard them all.

"So I've had about an hour to put it all in perspective," he said.

And?

"It's pretty good," Holliday said, laughing. "It was pretty incredible to watch. Make sure you tell everybody I was here and I was part of it."

JUST A BIT OUTSIDE

When former President George W. Bush threw the ceremonial first pitch before Game 4, he was a bit wide of home plate.

The ball flicked off the catcher's glove and hit a photographer who was behind the plate.

The catcher was Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Famer and Rangers president who is more accustomed to throwing pitches than catching them. Manager Ron Washington and slugger Josh Hamiton were among those in the Rangers dugout who erupted in laughter when Ryan misplayed the ball.

While the photographer was OK and able to laugh it off, he's probably thankful that it was Bush and not Ryan who made the errant throw.

Ryan and Bush both had smiles on their faces after the ceremonial throw when they posed for a picture.

Bush, the former managing partner of the Rangers, has been a regular visitor to games with Ryan in first-row seats near the Texas dugout.

JOB HUNTING?

Joe Torre might want to get back on the bench as a manager under a couple of conditions. They have to do with Tony La Russa and October.

"Now, if he passes me in postseason wins, I'm going to start managing again," Torre said Sunday, obviously joking because he added that he'd only want to manage postseason games.

La Russa earned his 68th postseason win when the Cardinals beat Texas in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night. That put him 16 behind Torre, now Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations.

Torre won four World Series and 76 postseason games with the New York Yankees. He got eight more postseason victories with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

ST. LOUIS SOUTH

Before the Cardinals played Game 4 of the World Series at Rangers Ballpark on Sunday night, their NFL counterparts played across the street - the St. Louis Rams lost 34-7 to the Dallas Cowboys.

It was the second time in three years that a World Series game followed an NFL game in the same city on a day when both home teams were playing opposing teams from the same city, according to STATS LLC.

The last time was 2009, when the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles won at home against the New York Giants before the New Yankees defeated the Phillies in Game 4 of the World Series later that night.

There has been only one other similar World Series-NFL matchup. That was on the West Coast in 1988 when there was still NFL football in Los Angeles.

On the same day that the Los Angeles Dodgers won at home over Oakland in Game 2, the San Francisco 49ers won on the road against the Los Angeles Rams.

PUJOLS GOING YARD

Albert Pujols covered more ground with his three home runs in Game 3 of the World Series for the Cardinals than the St. Louis Rams' offense had in their NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Pujols' three long balls Saturday night went an estimated 1,226 feet combined - 423, 406 and 397 feet, respectively. That translates into just less than 409 yards, 144 more than the Rams had in their 34-7 loss Sunday.

While joining Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only players with three-homer games in the World Series, Pujols also had two singles. His 14 total bases set a World Series mark and were a combined 1,260 feet on the bases, or 420 yards.

DUCK, DUCK, GONE

That is quite a quacky power display above Mike Napoli's locker in the Rangers' clubhouse.

Lined up in a row are 31 small ducks, one for each home run Napoli hit this year before the World Series.

Napoli's brother and a best friend sent him one of the figures, which resemble miniature rubber ducks, during spring training. That is when Napoli told them they had to send him one for every home run he hit.

"It's an inside thing with us back home," said Napoli, adding there was no real significance to sending ducks.

The shelf has gotten a bit crowded since Napoli set a career high with 30 homers during the regular season and added another in the AL division series. There will be two more ducks on the way after Napoli hit his second World Series homer Sunday night, a three-run drive. He had a two-run homer in Game 1 against the Cardinals.

The ducks are painted different colors for different themes. Among them are an 8-ball duck, a bowling pin and another with a tuxedo.

"They're all my favorite," Napoli said.

NOT A RECORD FIRST

When Texas scored first in Game 4 of the World Series, a run at a record ended for the Cardinals.

St. Louis had scored first in 10 consecutive games, one shy of matching the longest streak in postseason history. Detroit scored first in 11 postseason games in a row from 1972-84.

Josh Hamilton had an RBI double in the first inning to give Texas a 1-0 lead. For the Rangers, it was the 11th time in 30 postseason games to score in their first at-bat.

GRIFFEY HONORED

Ken Griffey Jr. was presented Sunday with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award.

Griffey was a 13-time All-Star in his 22 major league seasons for the Mariners (1989-99, 2009-10), Reds (2000-08) and White Sox (2008). He hit 630 career home runs, won 10 Gold Gloves and was the 1997 AL MVP.

It was also Griffey who initially had the idea to wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day.

"He asked my permission to do that, and I of course granted it. It told me a lot, however, about Ken, about how much he understood the history, how much he understood the impact of Jackie Robinson," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "I've often gotten credit for something, but really he made a phone call to me on a Sunday night at home that I'll never forget. So with Ken leading the way, it began to catch on with other players."

Now all on-field personnel in baseball wear No. 42 once a season, a tradition Selig said will continue "at least as long as I'm around."

The Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award was last given in 2007, when Rachel Robinson was honored for her work to preserve the legacy of her late husband, Jackie Robinson.

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