ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson left the mound after 5 1/3 innings in Game 5 and received a warm ovation from the sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"It was very charitable," Wilson said. "I don't know how much of it I deserved. I didn't pitch very well tonight for my standards, but it was better than I've been pitching the last few weeks, so that's progress."
Wilson wouldn't respond to questions about whether that was his last pitch in a Rangers uniform. He's an unrestricted free agent after the World Series.
He didn't have his best stuff in Game 5. Like the rest of his postseason, it didn't live up to his regular-season track record.
But Wilson never quit. Despite five walks -- two intentional -- and command issues at times, the lefty allowed just two runs (one earned). He left with his team still in very much in the game.
"When Plan A isn't working, you have to go to Plan B or Plan C to stay competitive," Wilson said. "I'm not like [Justin] Verlander. I don't throw 100 miles per hour. There's not a lot of reach back and throw it by a guy in my game. It's a lot of location and deception. For whatever reason tonight, they didn't swing at any sliders in the dirt. They didn't chase at anything."
So Wilson did what he could, working around hitters and then making key pitches to get out of jams. He gave up two runs in the second thanks to consecutive walks to Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman and then a single by Yadier Molina and a ground ball to first that Mitch Moreland bobbled off the bat of Skip Schumaker.
After that, timely intentional walks to Albert Pujols helped Wilson limit damage. With a runner on third and one out in the third, Pujols was walked and Wilson got Holliday to hit into a 5-4-3 double play. In the fifth, with two on, Pujols was walked to load the bases and Holliday grounded to short.
Both times, Wilson made critical pitches to Holliday to get out of jams. He threw a 3-2 slider in the third and Holliday turned over on it. Wilson threw a good fastball in the fifth too to get him.
"You don't want to just hang in there, you want to dominate," Wilson said. "When you don't pitch well, you keep taking steps back on acceptance levels. But in situations like this where you have everything on the line and it's the most important game of your career, you can't let the situation overwhelm you. I'll take a step back, look at the baseball and say, 'It's just a baseball. I'm just going to throw my pitch.' I have confidence in myself because I've done it all year. I know if I can hold the line, my team can come back and score."
The lefty said he'll do whatever is needed in Game 6 or 7, if necessary. That includes (besides pitching): pinch-running and sac bunting ("I'm a good sac bunter") or even, Wilson joked, getting ejected.
"Whatever it takes," Wilson said.
The Rangers now sit one win away from the franchise's first championship and Wilson knows it's a team effort.
"We're all in it together," Wilson said. "That's why I'm wearing this shirt [which said 'Together']. Everybody contributes. We're a team."