NEW YORK -- It was only a few months ago that C.J. Wilson needed a home and the Yankees needed starting pitching. But when Wilson requested to visit the Yankees and tour their plush ballpark as part of his free-agent tour, he got a pretty surprising response: Thanks, but no thanks.
On Saturday afternoon, Wilson got his first chance to stick it to the big-market team that never considered his services and did so with six workmanlike innings of one-run ball in a 7-1 Angels win.
Any added chip on his shoulder for this one?
"I think it's more of an aftertaste than before, because you really focus on getting the hitters out," Wilson said. "You're not trying to strike out the front office."
Instead, Wilson continued to please his own front office -- the one that signed him to a five-year, $77.5 million contract and has received a 2-0 record and a 1.38 ERA in his first 13 innings.
Considering the amount of money the Yankees frequently spend and the success that left-handed pitchers tend to have at their ballpark, Wilson and New York seemed like a pairing that made sense. But the Yankees had very little to spend, so they figured a meeting with Wilson wouldn't accomplish much.
On Saturday, while constantly escaping jams and riding three homers from his offense, Wilson earned his first career win against the Yankees. And with that, the Angels (3-5) received just their third quality start from a rotation that (besides Wilson) has underperformed.
"We have a couple of new pieces on the team, and we're just looking to jell," said Wilson, who gave up six hits and walked two in a 105-pitch outing. "We have a lot of improvements to make -- offensively, pitching-wise. We're just concerned with trying to play our best baseball, and I don't think we've shown that."
On Saturday, at least, they began to show glimpses.
A rotation that had posted a 6.17 ERA in the previous six games finally provided a quality outing.
An offense that came in tied for second-fewest homers in the Majors (three) doubled that output in five innings, with Chris Iannetta, Howard Kendrick and Vernon Wells all going deep.
And a bullpen that was reeling got three scoreless innings from Kevin Jepsen, LaTroy Hawkins and little-used closer Jordan Walden to end the game.
But manager Mike Scioscia noted that his club went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and struck out 10 times.
In his mind, they still haven't put together a complete game.
"I think we're scratching the surface of what we do," said Scioscia, whose club snapped a three-game losing streak. "You're never looking for a perfect game, but we're looking for that game where we're pushing the envelope and doing things on a consistent basis that are going to help us win. Hopefully, we're going to grow into that team."
Whether it was largely a byproduct of a struggling Phil Hughes or a sign of things to come, the Angels' offense did drive the ball better on Saturday, tagging Hughes for six runs on eight hits in a rough 3 1/3-inning start.
Iannetta started off with a two-run homer in the second inning, tucking a ball just inside the right-field foul pole, above the 314-foot sign. Kendrick -- who had taken to Twitter, telling Angels fans to "have faith" despite the club's slow start -- added a three-run shot to make it a 5-0 game in the fourth. An inning later, Wells added a solo homer to left field, his second of the year and the 250th of his career.
"It's just a matter of time," said Albert Pujols, who's still homerless and batting only .250, but went 2-for-5 with an RBI and hit the ball hard for the second straight game. "We know what we can do. I said it yesterday -- the last thing you want to do is put too much pressure on yourself. Nine guys are going to go out there and fight. You know what you can do, and you don't want to do too much. I think over the last couple of days, we might have been swinging a little bit too hard, trying to do too much. Today, we just started relaxing and made some good swings."
Against Wilson, the Yankees put runners on first and second with no outs in the first, first and second with one out in the fourth, first and second with no outs in the fifth and second and third with two outs in the sixth, but Wilson navigated through all of that with just one run allowed
Wilson's best friend on the afternoon: The cutter.
"It got me out of some big jams," Wilson said. "I got some groundouts and some jam shots, kept the ball in the infield and we scored enough runs to win today. It was great."
Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira -- representing the heart of the Yankees' order -- each had two at-bats against Wilson with runners in scoring position, but a Cano RBI single in the fifth was the only damage.
"He was throwing his pitches wherever he [wanted], and he was throwing strikes," Cano said. "He pitched good, so you've got to give him credit."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.