Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Jerome Williams: You couldn't make this stuff up
By Mark Saxon
Jerome Williams threw eight innings of one-hit ball Wednesday in the heat of the pennant race.
ANAHEIM -- A year ago, he was pitching for the Uni-President Lions in Taiwan. A few months ago, he was pitching for the Lancaster Barnstormers in the independent Atlantic League.
Wednesday, he was the most important figure in the only pennant race left in baseball.
Jerome Williams is quickly becoming the human-interest face of this 2011 Angels season. He first appeared on manager Mike Scioscia's radar when the Angels signed Williams as a free agent in June. In the ensuing weeks, Scioscia would have weekly telephone conversations with Triple-A manager Keith Johnson and Williams -- a former first-round pick who hadn't pitched in the majors since 2007 -- was always one of the first names to pop up. He had gotten his game together and, at times, he was dominating the Pacific Coast League.
Now, look where he is.
"If he can keep his stuff the way it is now, he's going to pitch in the big leagues for a long time because it's legitimate," Scioscia said.
Williams used a heavy sinker, a lively cutter and two good off-speed pitches to work eight one-hit innings against the Seattle Mariners in a crucial game for the Angels' hopes. His stifling pitching set up Maicer Izturis' game-winning eighth-inning double to give the Angels a 3-1 win that trimmed Texas' AL West lead to a tidy 2 1/2 games.
Williams finally broke out the accessory he had been meaning to use ever since he got back to the majors: a pink glove. It's in honor of his mother, Deborah, who died of breast cancer in 2001. He had it in his locker since he arrived in mid-August, but he hadn't felt comfortable using it because he had just been called up and didn't want to draw too much attention.
"I wasn't ready to use it yet, because I was scared," Williams said. "Now, I think I'm going to use it every day."