Alex Wilson keeps plugging away, hopes luck will change

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
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Seattle — Alex Wilson has built up enough equity during his two-plus seasons with the Tigers to warrant the benefit of the doubt. Yes, he is presently grinding through a tough stretch, but it’s not this stretch that will ultimately define him.

Nor is it to the point where he’s losing the manager’s trust.

“We’re going to have to trust him,” Brad Ausmus said. “We really don’t have a lot of options.”

Beyond that, there is nothing to pin this bad stretch on. His velocity hasn’t dipped. He hasn’t lost the feel of his cutter. He’s putting pitches where he wants to for the most part.

“His stuff looks good,” Ausmus said. “From the side, it looks good.”

From May 1 through May 30, opponents hit .140 off Wilson. He allowed one earned run in 12 2/3 innings.

Since May 31, however, opponents have hit .417 against him and he’s allowed eight runs in 7 2/3 innings. He’s blown two saves and lost two games in that stretch.

“Nothing,” Wilson said, forthrightly when asked what he thought was going wrong. “I just feel like I am in a streak of bad luck.”

Let’s review:

In Boston on June 9, he blew a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning — a couple of weak hits (one should have been caught) and then, after two were out, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a three-run home run.

On Saturday, he was summoned in the seventh inning against Tampa Bay with runners on first and third in a 2-2 game. He fell behind left-handed hitting Mallex Smith and gave up a single that scored the winning run.

Then on Monday, he came into another 2-2 game in the sixth inning. He gave up a bunt single and then, on a 3-2 pitch, Mike Zunino blasted a well-placed cutter over the fence in left.

“There’s a runner on first and a 3-2 count, you don’t want to walk him and put the go-ahead run on second free of charge,” Wilson said. “I made a pretty good pitch; a cutter, a strike, down and away in the lower quadrant and he just dove out and spin-hooked it.

“And honestly, last night was the best I felt in over a month.”

He has gone over all of his outings this month. He’s analyzed his pitches. He’s charted their movement, location and velocity. Everything is as it should be — except for the results.

“I am in a streak of (bad) luck and bad situations where things aren’t going my way,” he said. “As a player, it’s hard to stay focused and not worry about the outcome, because the outcome is all that matters.

“I feel like I am doing everything right. I feel good. I am making good pitches. Just not getting results.”

He has no choice but to extract the positives from the situation, and the positive is, he’s throwing the ball well and making his pitches. But that does little to soothe his frustration.

“I hate this, obviously,” he said. “And now I am pitching in situations where the game is on the line and that’s where I want to be. But I am not worried just in the sense that, I know I am doing my job and I am facing professional hitters who are doing their job.

“Moving forward, I have to stay consistent. I’ve gone months when I haven’t given up a run and I’ve gone three or four weeks where I can’t catch a break. I just have to keep making good pitches and believe things will turn for me.” @cmccosky

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