Scott Downs entered the All-Star break having allowed one earned run in 30 innings, but he’s coughed up nine runs in five innings since then and now the Angels have placed him on the disabled list with a strained shoulder.
According to manager Mike Scioscia “right now it’s a minor issue and we want to keep it that way.”
Hisanori Takahashi was called up from Triple-A to take Downs’ spot on the roster and in the bullpen, although Scioscia won’t trust him to fill Downs’ late-inning role.
At age 36 any type of shoulder problem is a big worry, but the left-hander told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that the injury didn’t occur until Friday and wasn’t to blame for his previous second-half struggles.
Downs has somewhat quietly been one of the best relievers in baseball since shifting to the bullpen full time in 2007, throwing a total of 325 innings with a 2.21 ERA during that time and never posting an ERA above 3.09.
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.