Downs morphing into left-handed specialist

Downs morphing into left-handed specialist

Downs morphing into left-handed specialist

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."

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.