There are long stretches of a season when a manager feels like that little Dutch boy who puts his finger in the dike. Just when you think one leak is sealed, another springs up.
Despite a 7-3 loss to the
Mike Trout has put a 19-game funk in which he hit .164 firmly behind him. The center fielder is on a 20-game tear, batting .400 (30 for 75) with six home runs and 22 runs batted in to push his season totals to .305 with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs.
Albert Pujols is emerging from a month-long slump in which he hit .179, going 11 for 30 (.367) with six RBIs in seven games to improve to .258 with 16 home runs and 41 RBIs on the season.
And a two-month stint on the disabled list because of a torn ligament in his left thumb did not slow
But the good middle-of-the-order vibes were muted Sunday by a left-hip injury that knocked shortstop
Aybar, who hit a home run in the first inning, injured the hip while making a diving stop Saturday night and aggravated it Sunday while beating out a fielder's-choice grounder in the third inning.
"I felt it right away, and I don't want to miss more time, so I thought it's better to take a day," Aybar said. "I should be able to play" on Monday.
Aybar is batting .290 with five home runs, 37 RBIs and 33 runs, and his superb defense prompted pitcher
Veteran utility infielder
The relief corps, however, is another story. The bullpen stabilized after a rocky April, with
But Salas was put on the disabled list Sunday because of nerve irritation in his arm, Jepsen suffered his first blown save Sunday night, and Frieri's ninth-inning meltdown Saturday has created uncertainty in the back of the bullpen.
"I don't think we're reassessing anything," Scioscia said. "There are going to be times when Joe is in the back end and times when Ernie is going to be there. We're a better team when Ernie brings that presence, but we have to get outs, and if we have to mix and match, we'll do that."
But the mere fact Scioscia said Smith would close some is likely an indication that Frieri's hold on the role, which he lost after giving up four runs and three hits in the ninth inning of a 5-4 loss at Washington on April 23, has slipped again.
Frieri regained the closing job by posting a 1.86 earned-run average and converting all nine save opportunities in his next 19 appearances. The evidence: Frieri was summoned for all seven of the team's save opportunities from May 25 through Saturday; Smith hasn't pitched in a save situation since May 14.
But Frieri remained resolute in his belief that he can close.