C.J. Wilson ready for boos in showdown with Yu Darvish

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C.J. Wilson didn’t leave the Texas Rangers on the best of terms last winter.

The then-free agent left-hander was perturbed about the lack of interest from the Rangers, left to sign with their AL West rival Los Angeles Angels, then watched his former team dump $107 million on highly-touted Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish.

Then Wilson stoked the fire by getting into a Twitter tiff with former teammate Mike Napoli during spring training. In response to Napoli saying he wanted to hit a home run off Wilson, the pitcher tweeted Napoli’s phone number to his 100,000-plus followers.

So naturally, it will be Wilson and Darvish on the mound tonight when the Rangers and Angels face each other in Arlington for the first time this season. Talk about a juicy matchup. It would be tough to plan it any better.

Of course Wilson is doing his best to downplay the matchup, stressing to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that he’s not facing Darvish, he’s facing the Rangers lineup, and “it’s not emotional for me – it’s baseball, it’s a sport, it’s my job.”

He’s also smart enough to realize he’s probably not going to receive a pleasant welcome from the Rangers faithful.

“We’ll be playing in front of a huge crowd in a stadium that’s relatively hostile to our team, and I’m sure it will be fairly hostile to me,” Wilson said. “I think a lot of people will boo me. Hey, some of them booed me while I was there when I was a reliever.”

As for Napoli, he’s also taking a low-key, off-field-stuff-doesn’t-matter approach, with one small exception: “But I will try to hit a home run off him.”

Should be fun.

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Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: