UPDATE: Downs remains on the active roster for now, but the Angels put Hawkins on the DL and replaced him with Triple-A reliever David Pauley.
Just days after the Angels tried to address their struggling bullpen by acquiring hard-throwing right-hander Ernesto Frieri from the Padres they lost closer Scott Downs and setup man LaTroy Hawkins to injuries within the same of three pitches.
Downs injured his left knee reacting to a line drive hit back up the middle, at which point Hawkins came into the game and closed out a 4-3 win by catching a liner and doubling the runner off first base … but broke his right pinkie finger on the play.
There’s no timetables yet for either pitcher’s return, but Hawkins tweeted a picture of his mangled finger afterward and seemed pretty frustrated about his status. Their injuries open the door for demoted former closer Jordan Walden to reclaim ninth-inning duties or manager Mike Scioscia could turn to the newcomer Frieri in save situations already.
Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.
Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.
At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.