And for the second straight postseason, the lefthander said he has other things on his mind.
"I don't really care what people talk about as far as my value is or what the number eventually turns out to be or whatever,'' C.J. Wilson said on the eve of his start in Saturday night's ALCS Game 1, which was delayed by rain twice in the fifth. "The most important thing for me is ending this year hoisting a trophy. We put up one trophy last year with the American League. Now we want to do two this year with the American League and the World Series.''
Wilson is no Cliff Lee, last year's premier lefthander, but if he doesn't re-sign with the Rangers after the season -- and if CC Sabathia remains with the Yankees, as expected -- Wilson will hit the open market as the best of a weak class. And he'll draw the interest of plenty of teams, the Yankees included.
Wilson's performance against Justin Verlander before the rain doused Rangers Ballpark -- a watery reminder of plenty of Yankees games this season -- seemed to show exactly where his focus was. He shut out the Tigers for four innings before allowing a leadoff double to Ramon Santiago in the fifth.
After the next pitch to Brandon Inge, the game was held up for 41 minutes because of rain, and when play was resumed, Wilson wasn't as sharp. He allowed an RBI double by Austin Jackson that brought the Tigers within 3-1, and after walks to Ryan Raburn and Miguel Cabrera loaded the bases, a wild pitch made it 3-2. Wilson held the runners at second and third on Victor Martinez's comebacker and intentionally walked Magglio Ordoñez before rain again held up the game for 69 minutes.
When the game resumed, Mike Gonzalez got Alex Avila to ground out to strand three runners. Rick Porcello replaced Verlander to start the bottom of the fifth and Alexi Ogando began the sixth for the Rangers.
Wilson, who turns 31 next month, went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA this season, throwing a team-high 2231/3 innings. That followed a 2010 season in which he went 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA in 204 innings. "He's our thoroughbred,'' Ron Washington said of Wilson before the game.
Wilson's first inning Saturday night was a 20-pitch struggle, but he emerged from it without allowing a run. He struck out Jackson but Raburn and Cabrera -- who batted third with Delmon Young out of the series with an oblique strain -- followed with singles. Wilson walked Martinez to load the bases, but he got Ordoñez to ground into a 5-3 double play.
"C.J. was a closer,'' Washington said. "He had gotten used to getting in trouble and figuring out a way to get out of trouble. Now as a starter, he doesn't panic when things aren't going right. He figures out a way to get out of it.''
In the bottom of the second, the Rangers gave Wilson a 2-0 lead. Mike Napoli, coming off an ALDS in which he went 5-for-14 with four RBIs, had a leadoff single, and one out later, David Murphy launched a triple off the wall in right-center for a 1-0 lead. Verlander kept Murphy at third on Mitch Moreland's shattered-bat comebacker, but Ian Kinsler lined an RBI single to right.
After getting Martinez to hit into a double play to end the third, Wilson struck out Ordoñez, Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta in the fourth. In the bottom of the inning, Nelson Cruz, 1-for-15 in the ALDS, hammered Verlander's 2-and-0 pitch over the leftfield wall to make it 3-0.