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Angels face good problem — too much pitching

Jerome Williams' return from the disabled list would force Manager Mike Scioscia to make a decision about the rotation, since Garrett Richards is throwing well.

June 25, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times
  • Jerome Williams pitches against the San Francisco Giants at Angel Stadium.
Jerome Williams pitches against the San Francisco Giants at Angel Stadium. (Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty…)

When Jerome Williams is eligible to come off the disabled list July 4, the Angels will have an extremely difficult decision:

Do they return Williams, who was 6-5 with a 4.46 earned-run average before being hospitalizedJune 18 because of breathing problems caused by an asthma attack, to the rotation?

Or do they keep Garrett Richards, who on Sunday delivered his fourth straight strong start since being promoted from triple A in late May, giving up three runs and nine hits, striking out five and walking two in 62/3 innings of a 5-3 interleague victory over the Dodgers?

A tough call, but one Manager Mike Scioscia won't fret about.

"Believe me," Scioscia said, "we're not going to lament over having six starting pitchers who are throwing the ball well when most teams are looking for three."

Richards, 24, has shown he belongs, with a 2-0 record and 1.63 ERA in five games, including four starts. He pitched out of two jams Sunday, getting James Loney to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners on first base and third base in the third inning and Bobby Abreu to bounce into a double play with two on to end the fifth.

"I'm trying to make the most of my opportunities," Richards said. "Every chance I get to pitch, I want to show people what I can do, how much I've improved and how much I've matured."

Richards survived a scary moment in the sixth inning, getting a glove on a Loney liner that was headed right for his face. The ball popped out of his glove, eliminating any chance Richards had of doubling Juan Rivera off second base, but he recovered in time to throw to first base for the out.

"If I don't get the glove on that," Richards said, "I'm probably coming out of the game."

The gambler

Scioscia encourages his players to be aggressive going from first to third, but that strategy didn't work too well for first baseman Albert Pujols over the weekend.

Pujols made a risky decision in the first inning Saturday, fielding a Jerry Hairston Jr. grounder and throwing across the diamond in an effort to cut down speedy Dodgers leadoff batter Dee Gordon going from second to third.

Gordon slid in safely and scored when Pujols' throw hit him and caromed into foul territory, part of a two-run inning in a 3-1 Dodgers victory.

In the fifth inning Sunday, Pujols was on first after his go-ahead run-scoring single when Kendrys Morales flared a one-out single to left field. Pujols gambled again, this time against the strong-armed Rivera, who gunned down Pujols at third. Scioscia was ejected for arguing, but replays show umpire Dan Iassogna got it right.

Short hops

Relievers Scott Downs, who threw a scoreless inning Sunday, and Ernesto Frieri, who struck out two in 11/3 innings for his ninth save, have combined for an 0.19 ERA (one run in 471/3 innings) this season, the best of any major league relief tandem. … Williams completed a full bullpen workout Saturday and will throw a three-inning simulated game in Baltimore on Tuesday or Wednesday in an effort to maintain his endurance during his DL stint. … Pujols' seventh-inning walk was his 1,000th.

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