Officially eliminated, Angels conclude series vs. White Sox

CHICAGO -- The Los Angeles Angels head into the series finale against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday officially out of the postseason picture.

With four games remaining this season, the Angels have already turned their attention to next season. A 6-4, 10-inning loss to the White Sox on Wednesday ended Los Angeles' hopes and handed the second American League wild card to the Minnesota Twins.

After a year in which the Angels have ranked among baseball's worst offensive teams, manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday finding more production at the plate will be an obvious focal point for his team in the offseason.

However, Scioscia is unwilling to pin all of his team's shortcomings on the lack of offensive firepower.

"There's more than one way to win a game," Scioscia said. "I think there's always a lot of focus on the batter's box and pitching well. I think you're always striving for that balance."

The Angels could have avoided elimination with a victory Wednesday, but Blake Parker gave up a two-run, walk-off homer to Nicky Delmonico in the 10th.

Still, Scioscia said he couldn't fault his team's effort.

"There were so many times during this year when our season could have gone south and taken turns where we wouldn't even be talking about the possibility of playoffs," he said. "The group of guys in there kept it together."

Now, the Angels, like the White Sox, will have to be content with playing out the string.

Los Angeles will send Bud Norris to the mound Thursday. The right-hander is 2-6 this season with a 4.42 ERA and is 1/3 in five career appearances (three starts) against the White Sox.

He is making his third start of the season; he has appeared in relief 57 times. Norris lasted only 3 1/3 innings in a start Saturday at Houston, allowing one run on three hits in a 6-2 loss.

In Norris' lone appearance against Chicago this year, he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings on May 15.

The Angels considered starting Andrew Heaney, who has missed two weeks with shoulder inflammation. However, Scioscia said after the Wednesday loss that there was no need to pitch Heaney considering the circumstances, although the club considers the left-hander to be fully healthy.

Chicago's Dylan Covey (0-7, 7.83 ERA) will make his final start of the season Thursday against the Angels.

Covey has lost each of his past three starts after three straight no-decisions in relief to begin the month. Covey allowed three runs and five hits over six innings on Saturday against the Kansas City Royals. He will face the Angels for the first time in his career.

Although the White Sox have been eliminated from playoff consideration for weeks in a season that from the start was a rebuilding process, manager Rick Renteria likes the way his team keeps fighting. The Wednesday victory provided the latest example.

Delmonico's homer gave the White Sox their ninth walk-off win of the season and 11th victory in the past 18 games. Now, with one home game remaining before Chicago finishes the regular season in Cleveland against the Indians, Renteria will look to end the home slate of his first year at the helm on the right note.

"They haven't quit," Renteria said of his players after the Wednesday win. "We may have fallen short. Let's assume we fell short in this game. They wouldn't have quit. That's what they have been showing all year long. It's part of who they are becoming, and hopefully it's a part of who they will be moving forward and for years to come."
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