POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 02, 2012
ANAHEIM, Calif. » Jerome Williams kept throwing strikes and inducing ground balls until the Minnesota Twins were finally out of outs.
Williams earned his second major league shutout with a three-hitter, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-0 victory on Tuesday night. His other shutout was on June 27, 2003, with the Giants, a seven-hitter against the Oakland Athletics at San Francisco in his sixth big league start.
"I just went out there and pitched. That's all I did — throw strikes and get people out," Williams said. "I was attacking the zone with first-pitch strikes. If I get that first pitch over, I have everything to work off of after that. I also was throwing my cutter and sinker, keeping the ball down and making those guys hit ground balls. But I didn't realize what was going on until I had two outs in the ninth."
Williams (2-1) threw 109 pitches, striking out six and retiring 18 of his last 19 batters to finish in an economical 2 hours, 10 minutes. It was the third complete game in 81 career starts for the 30-year-old right-hander from Waipahu.
"We pretty much didn't have much of a chance against Mr. Williams out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He pretty much ate us up and made quick work of us. He was throwing a nice little cutter and two-seamer, and he never really centered the ball. We didn't square up all night long."
The Angels' No. 5 starter faced only one batter over the minimum before walking Denard Span with two out in the ninth. Alexi Casilla grounded into a double play after Span opened the game with a single, and Span was picked off first base to end the third. Span's two hits extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games.
"Jerome missed a lot of spring training with a pulled hamstring, but the fact that we didn't need a fifth starter until April 15 really helped him a lot," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I mean, we had some guys throwing the ball well, but we really felt that based on what Jerome did at the end of last year — and how well he looked in his rehab starts — he was the guy we wanted to get first crack at the fifth spot. And he's taken advantage of it.
"You need five starters. But the fact that Jerome is number five I don't think is indicative of how well he's pitched for us," Scioscia added. "This guy could be in a lot of rotations in the major leagues — and with a little higher seeding. After a rough start in New York, he's really bounced back. He's shown that he can make pitches and that his stuff plays in the big leagues."
Torii Hunter homered for the fourth time in five games and Howie Kendrick also went deep against struggling Francisco Liriano, but Albert Pujols went 0-for-4 with a run-scoring groundout. The three-time NL MVP and two-time home run champ, who had 445 in his previous 11 seasons with St. Louis and hit a career-best 49 in 2006, has gone a career-worst 31 games and 125 at-bats since his last one on Sept. 22, 2011.
Pujols, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract in December as a free agent, hit seven homers during spring training — including a tape-measure shot at Dodger Stadium that was estimated at 441 feet in his final swing of the exhibition schedule.