"It's frustrating," the Angels' sage southpaw repeatedly said after Wednesday's hard-fought, 5-4 win over the A's.
Downs checked in with one one and the Angels leading by three in the eighth, then gave up a one-out, RBI double to Luke Montz. The next batter, Adam Rosales, lined a run-scoring single back up the middle. Downs hurt himself while trying to snare it and exited the game, paving the way for Ernesto Frieri's five-out save.
Downs was involved in a similar situation in Colorado last year, when a comebacker on June 10 prompted him to go eight days without an appearance. The 37-year-old said the current ailment is "not to the extent" of the one he suffered in 2012, calling it "one of those fluke, freak things that always seem to find me."
The Angels' bullpen can ill-afford another loss, with Kevin Jepsen (strained lat), Mark Lowe (left neck strain) and Sean Burnett (left forearm tightness) already on the DL, Ryan Madson still recovering from Tommy John surgery and 18 pitchers -- the most in one month since 2000 -- being used in April.
"That's the frustrating part, because you want to be out there," said Downs, who will get checked out in Anaheim on Thursday. "But we don't have one hero. We have seven, eight guys down there that want the ball and are going to have to contribute. It's just frustrating to have to come out of a situation like that, and to put Ernie in a tougher situation that he didn't deserve."
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.