6/12/2013 7:02 P.M. ET
Downs morphing into left-handed specialist
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Scott Downs has typically been a full-inning reliever, particularly with the Angels under manager Mike Scioscia. This year, though, he's developing into more of a specialist, often coming in to face one or two lefty hitters -- like he did Tuesday night -- rather than recording all three outs in a frame.
In his first 27 appearances this season, Downs has pitched at least a full inning only 12 times (44.4 percent of the time). In 2012, 56.1 percent of his appearances saw him record at least three outs. In 2011, that mark was 68.3 percent.
With Sean Burnett out and away from throwing for the next month, Downs is the only lefty in the 'pen. Scioscia said the emergence of Garrett Richards and Kevin Jepsen has allowed him to use Downs -- who boasts a 2.00 ERA and 1.28 WHIP -- in "a wild-card situation whenever we need him."
Also in the back of Scioscia's mind is limiting Downs' game-by-game workload, because he figures he'll need the 37-year-old more often down the stretch this season.
"I've been the only lefty before; it's not a big deal," Downs said after giving up the go-ahead two-run single to Nick Markakis in Tuesday's seventh inning. "I don't really see myself as a lefty specialist, but if that's the way I'm used, then that's the way I'm used."
Blanton won't make next scheduled start
BALTIMORE -- Joe Blanton won't start in his next scheduled turn through the rotation this weekend, but on Wednesday Angels manager Mike Scioscia stopped short of saying Blanton would be skipped when announcing his rotation order for the upcoming Yankees series.
"It'll just push him back a couple days with the off-day," Scioscia said, "then we'll see where the other guys fold in."
After Thursday's off-day, the Angels will go with C.J. Wilson on Friday, Tommy Hanson on Saturday and Jered Weaver on Sunday in a three-game home series against New York. Blanton, 1-10 with a 5.87 ERA, would've lined up to start Sunday, but now his next turn is up in the air.
Between the off-days and Saturday's doubleheader, all of the starting pitchers will be on extended rest. Wilson and Weaver will each have five days off between starts, while Hanson will have six. It seems likely that Tuesday starter Jason Vargas would start Monday's series opener against the Mariners on five days' rest. After him, it could be Blanton, or it could be Jerome Williams, who started Wednesday's series finale against the Orioles because the Angels needed a sixth starter one time through the order.
When Blanton faced the Red Sox on Sunday, he was coming off three consecutive quality starts, posting a 2.95 ERA and walking none in 21 1/3 innings. Then he gave up seven runs (six earned) in five-plus innings, and now he leads the Majors in losses and hits allowed (111).
"Joe's game comes down to more than just throwing strikes -- having command," Scioscia said. "I know that's one area he's focusing on."
• Scioscia kept Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos and Chris Iannetta out of Wednesday's starting lineup, all for rest. Bourjos returned from a strained left hamstring on Monday, but he played seven rehab games before being activated. Trumbo's first day off this season prompted Josh Hamilton to move back into the cleanup spot for the first time since April 29. Trumbo and Bourjos checked into the game in the seventh for defense.
• Hank Conger's third-inning solo homer on Wednesday traveled past the right-field gate and landed in the street beyond Camden Yards. It was the 69th homer to land in neighboring Eutaw Street during the 22-year history of the Orioles' ballpark. A small plaque in the shape of a baseball will be wedged into the cement to indicate where the ball landed. "That's a good compliment, I guess," Conger said, smiling.
• The Angels have 13 midseason All-Stars at the Double-A, Class A Advanced and Class A levels. For Double-A Arkansas, it's catcher Jett Bandy, first baseman C.J. Cron, second baseman Taylor Lindsey, outfielder Randal Grichuk, and pitchers Lay Batista, Brandon Hynick, Mike Piazza and Kevin Johnson. At Class A Inland Empire, it's outfielder Zach Borenstein, second baseman Alex Yarbrough and starter Mark Sappington. At Class A Burlington, it's pitchers Alex Keudell and Ryan Crowley. Bandy, Cron and Borenstein are listed as starters. Triple-A All-Stars have yet to be announced.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.