In his first appearance Tuesday night at AT&T Park since leaving the San Francisco Giants for the dreaded Los Angeles Dodgers, uniquely odd right-hander Brian Wilson received a mixed reaction from the crowd. They all used to love him, or at least most did, and those who were indifferent weren't unhappy he was pitching for the Giants and helping them win the World Series in 2010.
But working for the Dodgers has changed the dynamic. There definitely was no groupthink regarding the reaction when Wilson emerged from the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth inning: Some cheered, some booed. All were buzzed.
"You're not going to get a rise out of me," Wilson told reporters after the Dodgers 2-1 victory. Was he referring to the questions or the reaction in the stands?
He definitely heard the booing, though.
"It's not the first time I've been booed with the Dodgers in town — just playing for them," Wilson said. "It's fun. It's due diligence, it's what fans do. That's their right. I love it."
Saying he got any jitters about facing the Giants out of the way when he recently pitched against them at Dodger Stadium, Wilson said the AT&T experience was no big deal.
"Normal," Wilson said. "Just another normal eighth inning. Another normal win. A normal game. Nothing crazy."
Nothing crazy. Says the naturally fair-haired man who wears a rubber-band ponytail in his dyed-black beard.
In relief of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, striking out Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez looking. Though he didn't finish for the save (Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth), Wilson has been terrific for the Dodgers, posting a 0.79 ERA with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 12 1/3 innings so far. His fastball is crisp and his breaking pitches have bite. He's given the Dodgers exactly what they needed to set up Jansen. And the Dodgers have given Wilson what he needed: A chance to show he could get people out again, even if it's the eighth inning instead of later.
Though he wouldn't have fixed all of their problems in 2013, Wilson could have helped the Giants, too. It would seem unlikely for him to return, but he could; Wilson is a free agent at the end of the season.