Former top prospect Jerome Williams returns to majors with Angels

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Jerome Williams, who was last seen going 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts with the Nationals in 2007, is back in the majors after being promoted by the Angels on Wednesday.

Williams, a native of Hawaii, debuted with the Giants in 2003, finishing 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 starts as a rookie.  Along with Jesse Foppert and Kurt Ainsworth, he was part of a trio of Giants right-handers all ranked among the game’s top pitching prospects in the early part of the decade.

Unfortunately, none of those three went on to have substantial careers, while Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan, who were dealt to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski, turned into big-time successes.

Unlike Foppert and Ainsworth, Williams didn’t deal with any major arm problems.  He just lost his best stuff early on, and while he possesses a perfectly respectable career record of 23-29 with a 4.25 ERA (from back when a 4.25 ERA was actually above average), he wasn’t viewed as having any upside because of his lack of a consistent low-90s fastball or a strikeout breaking ball.  It also certainly didn’t help matters that he wasn’t too concerned about conditioning; he probably weighed over 250 pounds by the time he was let go by the Nats in 2007.

Williams is getting the call now after going 7-2 with a 3.91 ERA and a 60/15 K/BB ratio in 73 2/3 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake.  That he gave up 10 homers in 10 starts and one relief appearance doesn’t bode well, but that is a very tough environment for pitchers.  At best, maybe he’ll hold his own and prove to be a decent middle reliever for the Angels.  It doesn’t seem likely that he could succeed as a starter in the AL.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.