Jerome Williams, Angels long reliever, gave up seven earned runs on 11 hits… (Morry Gash / Associated…)
SURPRISE, Ariz.—Jerome Williams’ role on the Angels would not seem that critical. The right-hander is a long reliever and spot starter, a guy who often enters games after the starter has given up a bunch of early runs to put the Angels in a deep hole.
But if Williams, who has a $2-million guaranteed contract, is going to hold onto his spot, he will need to pitch better than he did in Thursday night’s 10-9 exhibition loss to the Texas Rangers, when he gave up seven earned runs and 11 hits in 1 1/3 innings.
“Tonight was definitely a step backward for Jerome,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He had trouble putting guys away and hitting spots. His stuff was flat. There were a lot of things he wasn’t controlling out there. We need to see him getting ready to get guys out, just like anybody else who is fighting for a role.”
Williams gave up eight straight hits in the second, including run-scoring doubles by Lance Berkman and Nelson Cruz. He also gave up RBI singles to Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin.
“That’s unacceptable,” Williams said. “I left the ball up in the zone. I’m better than that. I need to keep the ball lower and get the ground balls I’m used to getting. I’m going to go back to the drawing board tomorrow and try to get to where I need to be.”
There were plenty of bright spots in the loss for the Angels, who hit four home runs — by Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Howie Kendrick and Hank Conger — in a six-run fourth inning that erased most of a 7-0 deficit.
Conger hit a go-ahead two-run triple in the sixth, and Erick Aybar, in his first game back from the World Baseball Classic, hit a solo homer in the seventh to give the Angels a 9-7 lead. The Rangers won in the ninth on Martin’s three-run, walk-off double off Eswarlin Jimenez.
Conger, whose throwing woes led to the team’s signing of veteran catcher Chris Snyder to a minor league contract on Monday, also had a strong night behind the plate, picking off a runner at first and making a strong and accurate throw to second on Andrus’ stolen base in the second.
“He threw the ball great,” Scioscia said. “He looked comfortable and turned the ball loose. Hank understands what’s happening, and he understands the need to throw the ball to his capabilities.”
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