White Sox dim Angels’ playoff hopes
CHICAGO — James Shields is clearly enjoying his late-season revival.
The Chicago White Sox right-hander worked seven efficient innings and claimed a third win in his past four starts in a 4-2 victory over the Angels on Monday, dimming Los Angeles’ already slim playoff hopes.
“I’m having the results I want,” said Shields (5-7), who allowed two runs on four hits, matched a season high in innings pitched and struck out eight while walking two. “It’s still a work in progress, as usual. But it feels pretty good. Every game I’ve just figured some new stuff out with my delivery, and it’s been working.”
However, it is far too early to determine whether this season’s encouraging ending will lead to improvement in 2018 for the 35-year-old, now in his 12th season.
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Shields said with a laugh. “I’m going to make some assessments in the offseason. ... Over the last month and a half, it seems to be working out, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Chicago right-hander Juan Minaya faced four batters in a scoreless ninth to earn his seventh save.
“We didn’t pressure (Shields) enough,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Aside from Mike (Trout’s) home run and a couple balls hit hard, we really didn’t have too many good looks at him. He did a good job off commanding counts and definitely changed speeds well.”
Nicky Delmonico went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for Chicago (64-92) in the opener of the four-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field. Andrelton Simmons went 2-for-4 to lead the Angels.
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (6-15) took the loss as Los Angeles (77-79) fell for the seventh time in eight games as hopes for an American League wild-card berth continued to fade.
Los Angeles slipped five games behind the idle Minnesota Twins for the second AL wild-card berth with six games to play.
“We’re in a tough spot, but that’s why we play until October 1,” Angels left fielder Justin Upton said. “All we can do is try to play our best baseball these last six games and see what happens.”
Nolasco worked five-plus innings, departing in favor of left-handed reliever Jose Alvarez with runners on first and second and no outs.
Alvarez faced one batter, getting Omar Narvaez to pop out on a bunt before being replaced by right-hander Blake Wood, who walked Tyler Saladino to load the bases.
Adam Engel grounded into a fielder’s choice that drove home Delmonico for a 4-2 Chicago lead. Wood struck out Yolmer Sanchez to end the inning.
Nolasco was charged with four runs (two earned) on seven hits while walking one and striking out four.
Chicago opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning with two unearned runs. Delmonico doubled home Tim Anderson and Matt Davidson with a two-out drive off the right-center-field wall.
The Angels got one run back in the second when Martin Maldonado’s two-out single to left scored Simmons from second.
Avisail Garcia led off the Chicago third with a triple to left that Upton misjudged, allowing the ball to reach the wall. Garcia scored on Davidson’s sacrifice fly to center for a 3-1 lead.
Trout clubbed his 30th home with two outs in the fifth, narrowing the deficit to 3-2.
“You can’t throw a ball down the middle to that guy,” Shields said. “It was a cement-mixer slider. I didn’t really execute my pitch very well.”
NOTES: The Angels are 3-1 this season against the White Sox, including a May sweep in Anaheim. ... Los Angeles is 25-14 against Chicago since 2012. ... Angels CF Mike Trout’s first-inning walk gave him 90 for the season. He is aiming to become the seventh player in AL history with three 100-walk seasons prior to his age-25 season. ... The Angels send RHP Parker Bridwell (8-3, 3.86 ERA) against White Sox RHP Chris Volstad (1-0, 1.08 ERA) on Tuesday. Volstad picked up his first victory in five years in a Sept. 21 win over Houston. ... SS Tim Anderson was 0-for-4, snapping his career-high 15-game hitting streak, which was the longest by any White Sox player this season. ... 2B Yoan Moncada sat out the game due to flare-up of a shin irritation. He is hitting .338 with five homers and 11 RBIs in his past 15 games.