ANAHEIM -- With his superb work down the stretch -- going 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA in six starts and nine appearances -- Jerome Williams has become the leading in-house candidate to assume one of the spots behind Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in the Angels' 2012 rotation.
Williams, 29, is one of the season's most endearing comeback stories. He began the season in an independent league in Pennsylvania after spending last year pitching in Taiwan. The Angels signed him in June and sent him to Triple-A Salt Lake, where he quickly emerged as the team's best starter.
His eye-opening performance with the Angels included a clutch victory on Saturday night against the A's, keeping his team afloat in its pursuit of the American League Wild Card berth. It was probably Williams' final start unless the Angels reach the postseason or have a playoff game for the Wild Card ticket.
He will be arbitration-eligible for next season, under control of the Angels.
"Jerome is definitely a guy that has shown his stuff and has played a prominent role in the big leagues when pitching to his capabilities," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on Sunday. "He's somebody that's jumped up on our depth chart through his performance and pitching the way he does."
By that, Scioscia means pounding the strike zone with a deep repertoire of pitches, keeping the ball down and getting ground balls with runners on base.
"As his career moves forward and we move into another year," Scioscia said, "there's no doubt that he's going to have an opportunity to pitch for us and even have a prominent role."
What has impressed the boss most about the former No. 1 Draft pick of the Giants who hadn't won a Major League game since 2005 or started one since 2007?
"Just pitching back in the big leagues from where he's come, and pitching with such a sense of purpose," Scioscia said. "It shows that he's not intimidated by any situation. He trusts his ability and he's going to win or lose on making pitches. He's shown that."
If free agent Joel Pineiro does not return and another starter isn't acquired, Tyler Chatwood and Garrett Richards are the leading candidates to fill a rotation spot in 2012.
Trumbo plays in finale despite intermittent pain
ANAHEIM -- It wasn't until about an hour before game time on Sunday that Angels manager Mike Scioscia got the word from the training staff that Rookie of the Year candidate Mark Trumbo would be able to play in the series finale against the A's at Angel Stadium.
Trumbo has been dealing with intermittent pain in his right ankle for about a month, Scioscia said. He added that it's rare for a player not to feel some sort of discomfort in the final week of a 162-game regular season.
"He's been dealing with it off and on for a month," Scioscia said. "It's nothing he couldn't manage."
Trumbo has gone deep twice against Sunday's starter Rich Harden this season in six at-bats. He homered off him once in Angel Stadium and once in Oakland on the recently concluded road trip.
Vernon Wells also has homered twice against Harden in 22 career at-bats. He's hitting .318 against the hard-throwing right-hander.
Maicer Izturis, who is 3-for-22 (.136) in his career against Harden, was the odd man out in the lineup, taking his clutch bat to the bench for late-inning opportunities.
Hunter remains driving force down the stretch
ANAHEIM -- It wasn't surprising that Torii Hunter drove in three of the Angels' four runs in Saturday night's critical 4-2 victory over the Athletics at Angel Stadium, moving them to within 2 1/2 games of fading Boston in the American League Wild Card chase.
What was surprising was Hunter using the word "failure" to reporters in describing his postseason history after the game, explaining why he's so driven to get back to the postseason and take a run at his first World Series ring.
Hunter clearly has not been a postseason "failure." His only bad performance in eight postseason series came against the Angels in the 2002 AL Championship Series when he was the Twins' young center fielder. He hit .167 in that series with no homers or RBIs.
Overall, Hunter's postseason numbers are far superior to his regular-season figures. A .274 lifetime hitter in the regular season with a .332 on-base percentage, .467 slugging mark and .800 OPS, Hunter has a slash line of .305/.370/.489/.858 in 34 postseason games.
He is a guy who thrives on pressure. It's no surprise, then, that since Aug. 1, playing every night with playoff purpose, he is hitting .326 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs.
"I've been desperate since August," he said. "I'm taking my playoff approach into these games. I'm hungry, man. I want to know what it feels like to celebrate after the last game of the season."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.