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Angels starter C.J. Wilson's night is over quickly

Angels starter C.J. Wilson's night is over quickly
Angels starter C.J. Wilson looks down after giving up a three-run triple in the first inning of an 8-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game 3 of the ALDS on Sunday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — C.J. Wilson gave up a pair of one-out singles in the first inning Sunday night before striking out cleanup batter Eric Hosmer on three pitches. He walked Billy Butler to load the bases, and Vinnie Pestano started warming up in the Angels bullpen.

"I was a little bit upset," Wilson said. "I felt like I made some good pitches, but I didn't get the result."

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Wilson then gave up a three-run double to Alex Gordon, turning a 1-0 Angels lead into a 3-1 deficit, and just like that, he was out of the game, the Kansas City Royals going on to an 8-3 victory that capped an American League division series sweep.

"I'd like to think in general I can give the team a good start even if I have a bad inning," Wilson said. "But in the situation we're in, with our backs against the wall, there's nothing you can do."

Manager Mike Scioscia thought Wilson's stuff "looked good," but not good enough for him to remain in the game. Pestano got the Angels out of the first, but Hector Santiago and Mike Morin, two of the seven relievers used, each gave up two runs.

"Being able to finish off some hitters was an issue, and I think he was behind too many counts, and it ended up hurting in that first inning," Scioscia said of Wilson. "There's not a long leash in an elimination game, and unfortunately, we had to try to match up and get out of that first inning, and that was the night for C.J."

Rust never sleeps

Josh Hamilton missed all but one of the team's final 23 regular-season games because of right shoulder, rib-cage and chest injuries, and he was probably more suited for a triple-A rehabilitation assignment than a playoff series.

The Angels, believing Hamilton was better than any other option and that he'd quickly find his stroke, started him in left field for all three games, a decision that did not look very sound after Hamilton went hitless in 13 division series at-bats, driving in one run with an eighth-inning groundout Sunday night.

"Coming into it, the biggest thing was putting the ball in play," Hamilton said. "Tonight, I felt like I had some pretty good at-bats. It's a little late for that."

Hamilton, two highly disappointing years into a five-year, $125-million contract, was limited to 89 games because of numerous injuries this season, hitting .263 with 10 homers and 44 runs batted in.

"Of course, it's frustrating — I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't — but I'm going to do what I can do to get back and help the team," Hamilton said. "Last year ended on a positive note. This year, going to the playoffs is pretty positive. That's something to build off and fuel the fire for next year going into spring training."

No excuses

The Angels clinched the American League West with 10 games remaining and had three days off before the playoffs. The Royals played meaningful games through the end of the regular season and a wild-card game Tuesday night before playing the Angels on Thursday.

Did Kansas City's momentum going into the division series give them an edge?

"We're not going to look for excuses, man," Angels first baseman Albert Pujols said. "They played great. It's not because we clinched early. I've been on teams that clinched early and took the first round. The simplest way I can put it is that it wasn't meant to be. That's it."

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