Monday, May 17, 2010

No Beach Boy

Giants closer Brian Wilson saved the game against Houston on Saturday after an epic (hyperbolic adjective, but hey, I’m in sportswriting mode) 15-pitch battle against the Astros’ Kaz Matsui. Protecting a 4-3 lead on Sunday, Wilson again faced Matsui with two runners on and two out in the ninth inning. This time he only needed seven pitches to strike out the batter and earn the save.

Brian Wilson with his 95+ mile-an-hour fastball is a special pitcher. His postgame interview reveals that he also doesn’t think or talk quite like most other athletes:
Kaz Matsui had to be the last hitter that inning. It had to be 3-2. Luckily, it wasn’t bases loaded. You know, that’s going to happen. Not every game’s going to be 1-2-3. If that were the case, then every closer would be perfect. I’m not making any excuses at all. Obviously, I left a couple of balls in the zone, they got some good wood on it and got a couple of hits. The fact of the matter is, we came in today, we got the sweep that we needed. We won the series yesterday, we got a couple more runs for Z-pack [Barry Zito] today, and the bullpen was able to shut it down. Victorious.

Interviewer: You mentioned the sweep. How big was that? Just considering that you come off just getting swept by San Diego and you’re going to face San Diego tomorrow.

BW: Ultimately you want to win the series on the second day. But to get that sweep, you know, you count the games at the end of the year. And those are one of those games that’s probably going to help us push towards a playoff berth. Especially going into San Diego we needed our hopes up. We need to get rolling here. So it was a good win today.

Interviewer: this is the type of thing that can give you that momentum going into the next game?

BW: Exactly. You play like this at home, you can only aspire to do just as well on the road.
The text doesn’t quite capture his mental agility. He spoke quickly with the fingertips of his left hand pressed against his cheek. He would flick them for emphasis, which he did with the single “victorious” that ended the first paragraph. He’s too disciplined to say anything controversial, but he’ll throw in the occasional “aspire” to rouse us couch potatoes from our torpor.

The Giants look like contenders with their outstanding starting rotation. As the pennant race heats up this season, Brian Wilson’s media exposure should increase, and not just because of his fastball. © 2010 Stephen Yuen

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