Closer Huston Street is preparing for a heavier workload in the wake of Joe Smith’s left-ankle sprain, suffered when the setup man tripped while walking down a flight of steps at the team hotel Saturday.
Asked about the possibility of four- and five-out saves, Street, who saved both games of Saturday’s doubleheader sweep of the Twins, said, “I’d absolutely be willing to do it. To me, that’s September baseball. All the normal rules go out the window.
“It becomes a little easier on the body to just force it to do things because you know you’re only going to have to play another two weeks, at most. And if you do make the post-season, they give you plenty of rest to get your health back.”
Street, who leads the American League with 38 saves, has only 36 career save opportunities of more than one inning, including two this season.
The right-hander has a 2.88 earned-run average, 26 saves and 10 blown saves in those games for a success rate of 72%, which is significantly lower than his 86% career success rate and his major league-leading 92% success rate since 2011.
But Street has thrown only 59 2/3 innings in 59 games this season and pitched only four times in July, missing two weeks because of a right-groin strain. He believes he is physically ready to extend beyond an inning of work over the next two weeks if needed.
“Spending a lot of bullets early is not always the smartest thing to do,” Street said. “Our starting staff has been awesome. It has allowed the bullpen to be set up in a nice way.”
The Angels won’t know how long Smith will be out until the swelling subsides in his ankle and he undergoes an MRI test. In his absence, Manager Mike Scioscia said he will use a “committee” of pitchers in the seventh and eighth innings, a group that will include Trevor Gott, Jose Alvarez, Mike Morin and Fernando Salas.
“We’ll mix and match the best we can,” Scioscia said. “Believe me, these guys are all going to be part of what we need to do to hold leads.”
Smith was still a whirlwind of emotions Sunday, one day after his fluke mishap put the right-hander on crutches and his season in jeopardy.
“Shock is definitely one,” Smith said. “Ticked off is definitely one. You battle all year with your team and something like this pops up at the end of it, when the games mean the most and you’re trying to get into the playoffs.”
Recovery time depends on the severity of the sprain, but with 13 games left, Smith appears doubtful for the rest of the regular season.
“They say everyone is different,” said Smith, who is wearing a boot to immobilize the ankle. “I don’t have to move or cut, I just have to pitch. But right now, I’m just worried about when I can stand and walk on it.”
The Twins tacked on two runs in the fifth inning Sunday on bases-loaded walks by Angels relievers Cam Bedrosian and Cory Rasmus, and Joe Mauer blasted a two-run homer off Wesley Wright in the eighth. . . . Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella, out since Aug. 21 because of a condition that causes double vision, will face live pitching in Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday. If he returns this season, it will most likely be as a reserve. . . . Nick Tropeano, as expected, will start Wednesday’s series finale in Houston. . . . Mauer extended his on-base streak to 40 games, tying Harmon Killebrew (1967) for the second-longest in Twins history. Bob Allison (42 games in 1961) holds the record.