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Angels beat White Sox, but Shohei Ohtani’s pitching status unclear because of arm soreness

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Shohei Ohtani will not pitch on Friday as expected after experiencing arm soreness. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Angels won a series against the first-place White Sox, but had to scratch Shohei Ohtani from a planned Friday start because of arm soreness

Shohei Ohtani to miss Friday pitching start with arm soreness; pitching status for rest of season unclear

Shohei Ohtani will not start on Friday as originally planned because of arm soreness. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Shohei Ohtani will not pitch on Friday as originally expected after he experienced arm soreness this week, Angels manager Joe Maddon said, and there’s no guarantee he will start on the mound again before the season ends.

Ohtani had been “penciled” in to start Friday’s series-opener against the Oakland A’s, but then felt soreness after playing catch on Wednesday, according to Maddon.

It’s unclear what will come next for Ohtani. Maddon said the team isn’t shutting him down yet, and that they’re hopeful he could just be battling normal late-season fatigue. They’re planning to have him play catch again in the next few days and see how he feels.

As of Friday morning, there was no plan to have him see a doctor.

“If he feels great, adamantly, I see nothing wrong with [him pitching again],” Maddon said. “But if there’s any kind of lingering soreness, you may not see him pitch. I just don’t know that answer yet.”

Maddon said he did ask Ohtani about potentially shutting down for the rest of the season, either as a pitcher or a hitter, where he has slumped with a .147 batting average over the last 20 games.

However, “he felt he’s still good and he still wants to get after it,” Maddon said. “But I did broach the subject with him.”

While Ohtani has previously missed pitching starts this year because of blisters on his fingers and soreness around his hand and wrist area after being struck by balls, this is the first case of the team saying he has any sort of arm issue.

In 2018, Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery after making 10 pitching starts in his first MLB season. He didn’t pitch at all in 2019 — a season that ended early for him at the plate because of a knee surgery — then managed just two outings in a short-lived return to the mound in 2020 before being shut down as a pitcher because of a right forearm injury.

This year, however, Ohtani became the best pitcher in the Angels rotation, dominating with a fastball that occasionally reached 100 mph, an assortment of off-speed and breaking pitches, and consistent command that continued to improve over the course of the year.

In 21 starts, he has a 3.36 ERA, 136 strikeouts and a 9-2 record.

Maddon mentioned on Thursday that getting to 10 wins is probably a personal goal for Ohtani down the stretch, but that “we can’t permit that to be the driving factor.”

“We’re just gonna let it play itself out right now,” Maddon added. “He’ll continue to do his thing, playing catch or whatever. And then we’ll determine if he feels good enough to [make a pitching start] again. I think he can. But we’ve been caught in these circumstances a lot this year, so just have to wait and see.”

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Alex Cobb makes impressive return from injury as Angels beat White Sox 9-3

Alex Cobb pitched five scoreless inning in his return from injury Thursday. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

It sure didn’t look like Alex Cobb had missed most of the last two months.

Making his first on Thursday start since July 23 after battling a wrist injury, Cobb picked up where he left off earlier in his bounce back season, spinning five scoreless innings in the Angels 9-3 win over the Chicago White Sox.

“I was hoping for [him to pitch] good, but I wasn’t expecting that,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Cobb. “That really did exceed expectations. It’s wonderful to see to build on for us and for him.”

It helped the Angels win a rubber-match against the first-place White Sox too, lifting the team to 72-74 on the season and a 4-4 mark to finish their eight-game road trip.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Maddon said. “I thought we played hard … the whole road trip.”

Here are three observations from Thursday.

Cobb’s comeback

Cobb’s wrist injury originally came out of nowhere, a pain that developed while he was trying to come back from an unrelated blister issue.

MRI scans revealed no structural damage. And he felt like it was something that would either clear up in a matter of days, or that would take several weeks.

The latter scenario came true, but Cobb never considered shutting things down and ending his season early.

“There’s a lot of motivations to go out and pitch,” the right-hander said. “I just want to end this year healthy and feeling good.”

Cobb made a big step toward that goal Thursday, surprising even himself with sharp execution of a predominately splitter-sinker combination.

In his five scoreless innings, he gave up only two hits (both singles) and two walks while striking out five.

“I didn’t think I was going to work that deep into the game and I definitely thought I’d probably be working a little bit harder,” Cobb said. “But the overall stuff I was really happy with.”

Cobb, who will be a free agent this winter, is now 8-3 on the season with a 3.59 ERA.

“Whether I’m here or not next year, a big aspect of building on the previous year is that record,” Cobb said. “If we can try to get to above .500 or stay around .500, it can do a lot for our confidence going into next year.”

Lefties go wild

With the Angels facing White Sox right-hander Reynaldo López, Maddon went with a left-handed heavy lineup that included Brandon Marsh in the leadoff spot (his first time topping the batting order), Shohei Ohtani batting third and four more left-handers in the final five spots.

It was an effective plan, with the six left-handers combining for seven of the Angels’ 10 hits and drove in five of their nine runs.

A two-run homer from Luis Rengifo, a switch-hitter batting from the left side, opened the scoring in the second inning.

Jose Rojas also belted a two-run blast during the Angels’ five-run fifth.

Meanwhile, Ohtani had two infield singles, Marsh picked up a hit and Jared Walsh reached base three times and had an RBI.

The right-handed hitter who did the most damage: Jack Mayfield, who lined a bases-loaded three-run double down the left-field line in the fourth — following a couple sloppy plays from the White Sox defense — then added another RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Intentional HBP?

There was some late controversy in the ninth inning, when White Sox reliever Mike Wright was ejected after hitting Shohei Ohtani with a pitch in the leg, a plunking that came after he’d thrown two pitches earlier in the at-bat well inside.

White Sox manager Tony La Russa was also ejected after arguing with umpires, but told reporters postgame that the hit-by-pitch wasn’t on purpose.

Maddon, however, had a different point of view when asked if he thought it was intentional.

“Absolutely,” he said. “We had hit two hitters for them inadvertently [earlier in the series] … So it was retaliatory. We knew that.”

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Angels vs. White Sox recap: Angels win 9-3

Live updates as the Angels go for a series win against the Chicago White Sox.

End 2nd, 2-0 Angels — Alex Cobb makes return, Rengifo hits home run: Alex Cobb’s return to the mound is off to a good start. Making his first appearance since July after battling a wrist injury, the right-hander has worked two scoreless innings.

The Angels also have the lead, thanks to Luis Rengifo’s two-run homer in the top of the second.

Top 4th, 7-0 Angels — Angels lineup takes advantage of White Sox miscues: The Angels loaded the bases in an unorthodox way in the fourth inning.

It began with a 364-foot single by Max Stassi, on a fly ball that ricocheted hard off the wall. Jared Walsh then reached on an infield single, beating out a throw by third baseman Romy Gonzalez. Then, Luis Rengifo got aboard after his seemingly tailor-made double-play grounder was misplayed by shortstop Tim Anderson.

From there, the Angels capitalized. Jack Mayfield hit a bases-clearing three-run double down the left field line to make it 5-0. Then Jose Rojas blasted a two-run homer deep to right.

Mid 6th, 9-0 Angels — Alex Cobb completes scoreless start: After the Angels tacked on a couple insurance runs in the sixth, Alex Cobb completed his sharp return from injury.

In a scoreless five-inning start, Cobb gave up only two hits (both singles), two walks and struck out five. He threw 66 pitches, 42 for strikes. And he lowered his ERA on the season to 3.59.

Final, Angels win 9-3: The White Sox tacked on three late runs, but it was far too little too late as the Angels clinched the series with a 9-3 win and improved to 72-74 on the season.

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Brandon Marsh, Janson Junk and a strong bullpen lift Angels to 3-2 win over White Sox

Brandon Marsh had three hits Wednesday, including the game-winning home run in the eighth.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

The Angels aren’t headed to the playoffs. But on Wednesday night, they clinched a season-series win against a postseason-bound team.

With a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Angels improved to 4-2 on the season against the AL Central division leaders and can go for a three-game series win this week on Thursday.

Here are three observations from the game.

Marsh’s go-ahead homer

When he was called up to the big leagues for the first time this summer, Angels outfielder Brandon Marsh joked about knowing his strengths.

“Jo Adell is going to hit the ball over the scoreboard,” Marsh said of his slugging teammate. “I’m gonna put the ball over the shortstop.”

For most of his first big league stint, that’s been true. Entering Wednesday, Marsh had only one home run in 53 games.

But with the score tied at 2-2 in the top of the eighth, Marsh got just enough on his swing to send a full-count, 100.8-mph fastball from White Sox reliever Michael Kopech over the left-center-field wall for a go-ahead solo blast.

“When you’re talking about a young player like Marsh coming up in a crucial moment … you want to believe that the young player is going to grow from that,” manager Joe Maddon said. “This is something he will dwell on when things shut down for the year. Now he knows he can do it, and that’s a big part of it too.”

The 100.8-mph velocity was the hardest to be hit for a home run in the American League this season, and helped Marsh raise his batting average on the season to .267 after collecting three hits Wednesday night.

“I was talking with a couple of the guys about it,” Marsh said. “It was a first-time moment like this for me. It was special, fun to be a part of. Great team win.”

Bullpen shuts the door

After Angels starter Janson Junk gave up one run in 4⅓ innings, the Angels bullpen was asked to lift a heavy load in a game never separated by more than one run.

And even against the first-place White Sox’s dangerous lineup, it delivered. José Quijada got two outs in the fifth. Then, after Jimmy Herget yielded a game-tying RBI single in the sixth, Mike Mayers and Steve Cishek both recorded three strikeouts in scoreless seventh and eighth innings, respectively.

“He’s been trending in this direction, pitching really well,” Maddon said of Cishek, who has given up just two runs over his past 16 outings. “Velocity was up. There might have been a little bit of adrenalin aid right there.”

Cishek, 35, echoed the same thing: “I was feeling a little younger than usual,” he told Bally Sports West with a laugh. “Had a little extra coffee in me. It’s important to go out there and put up a zero.”

In the ninth, closer Raisel Iglesias picked up his 32nd save in dramatic fashion. After the White Sox put runners on the corners with only one out, the right-hander fanned former Angels outfielder Brian Goodwin with a fastball, then watched a deep fly ball from Cesar Hernandez die in left field for the final out.

The save moved Iglesias into a tie for third place on the MLB leaderboard, and only two behind White Sox closer Liam Hendriks for the AL lead — a race his setup man is keeping an eye on.

“My job is to get Iggy the ball at this point,” Cishek said. “I want to make sure he gets as many saves as he can to finish out the season. So I take it seriously.”

Junk starts again

Although Junk failed to get through the fifth inning Wednesday night, Maddon still called the right-hander’s second career outing an “outstanding” encore to his five-run, 3⅔-inning debut earlier this month.

“He started out great,” Maddon said. “He was challenging their hitters, he was throwing strikes, utilizing his breaking ball. He did a nice job.”

Even though Junk didn’t feel as if he had his best fastball, the 25-year-old right-hander, whom the Angels acquired earlier this year as part of their trade with the New York Yankees for Andrew Heaney, retired his first eight batters to begin the game and didn’t give up a run until Yoan Moncada’s solo homer to lead off the fourth.

In the fifth, Junk was replaced by Quijada after a leadoff double and sacrifice bunt.

Still, while he said he would have liked to try and finish that last inning, he also came away from the game encouraged about his performance — and continued development in his first big league stint.

“Every day is getting a little more comfortable,” Junk said. “Working with these guys every single day, learning from new minds, seeing new faces, it’s been great so far. And has helped me adapt to this level.”

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Mike Trout not anticipated to return this season, says Angels manager Joe Maddon

Mike Trout is unlikely to return this season, according to Angels manager Joe Maddon.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Angels haven’t officially ruled out Mike Trout for the rest of the season, but manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday that he “would be very surprised” if the center fielder is able to return before the end of the year.

Trout has been out since mid-May because of a right calf strain. While he was originally expected to return after six to eight weeks, the rehabilitation process has dragged on far longer because of lingering soreness in the leg.

“I’m not anticipating anything to change in regards to him playing,” Maddon told reporters during a video call before the Angels’ game against the Chicago White Sox.

Trout originally got hurt while running the bases in a game on May 17. He was diagnosed the next day with a Grade 2 strain in his calf, a slightly more severe designation but not bad enough to require surgery.

“I knew it was bad when it happened,” Trout said the day he went on the injured list, describing feeling a pop in his leg that felt like he’d been hit by a line drive. “I got to the bag and said, ‘Man, something’s not right.’ ... It was a freak thing.”

However, there was initially hope that Trout would return sometime before or shortly after the All-Star break in July. After wearing a walking boot and using crutches in the early weeks of his recovery, he gradually increased his workload in late June and early July, eventually resuming on-field activities such as baserunning and outfield drills.

However, Trout continued to feel soreness in his calf throughout the process, lingering discomfort that slowed his progress toward returning. Even though follow-up doctor visits revealed no setbacks, according to the team, Trout hasn’t been able to fully ramp up activities again in the last couple months.

“I’ve watched him do his work, and it’s been the same,” Maddon said. “The guy is so wanting to be out there. You watch him in the dugout every night, he’s on every pitch. He comes over and discusses things with me during the course of the game. He’s absolutely, totally engaged ... But for right now, I don’t anticipate him playing today or tomorrow or anytime soon.”

While Maddon didn’t officially rule out Trout returning, the timeline to do so is looking increasingly unlikely.

Before being able to rejoin the Angels, Trout would still need to go on a minor league rehab assignment. And at this point, even if he were to get healthy in time to play again, it likely would only give him the chance of appearing in a handful of games at the end of the team’s schedule.

“There’s still that process of having to get him at-bats, and we got two weeks, 17 games [after Wednesday] left,” Maddon said. “So it’d be very difficult.”

Maddon said a final official decision still has to be made between Trout and the team.

“But I’m just trying to be honest with you,” Maddon said. “And I would not anticipate [him returning].”

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Jo Adell placed on IL, could miss remainder of season

Angels outfielder Jo Adell was placed on the 10-day IL on Wednesday.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

Angels outfielder Jo Adell could miss the remainder of the season, manager Joe Maddon said, after he was placed on the injured list Wednesday because of a left abdominal strain.

Adell, 22, was injured Saturday after running into an outfield fence while trying to make a catch.

Maddon initially hoped the injury wouldn’t be too serious, saying Adell was only battling soreness in his backside. But on Tuesday, Maddon said, the team’s training staff told him that they were “concerned that it was something more than that, and that it’s going to take longer.” Maddon added that Adell has had trouble in recent days rotating and swinging a bat.

Maddon was asked whether Adell, whose IL stint was retroactive to Sunday, could return before the end of the season.

“It would be hard to imagine that,” Maddon said, noting that there are only a couple weeks left in the schedule. “I would anticipate that he wouldn’t, but we’ll see.”

In 35 games since being recalled last month, Adell was batting .246 with four home runs, 26 RBIs and a .703 on-base-plus-slugging percentage — showing “wonderful improvement,” Maddon said, from his rough 2020 debut season while also strengthening his case for a full-time role in 2022.

“His [field] awareness improved, I really liked that,” Maddon said. “His at-bats, better stance, better posture in the batter’s box. Really good eye at the plate. You saw the severe power in the ball off the bat. Defense really stands out though. He worked his feet so much better.”

Maddon added: “I think you’d have to give him plus grades in everything over last year … I think he’s on the verge of becoming that guy — ‘I belong here, I can do this,’ kind of guy — where he can really help you win games.”

Infielder Jose Rojas was recalled in a corresponding move.

Rojas, 28, will embark on his third stint with the Angels this year. As a rookie who made the team out of spring training, Rojas has batted .211 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 46 games in the majors this season.

Ohtani makes Time’s most influential list

Shohei Ohtani’s historic 2021 campaign was greeted with another honor on Wednesday, as the Angels’ two-way star was named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2021.

According to the Angels, Ohtani became just the second baseball player to earn such recognition.

“There’s very few things in our sport, or in sports in general, that are more interesting than what Shohei has done,” Maddon said.

Short hops

— Maddon declined to comment on reports from Venezuela that an arrest warrant has been issued for infielder Luis Rengifo over allegedly falsifying divorce documents. Rengifo was in the Angels lineup Wednesday, and Maddon said Rengifo would continue to play “until I’m told otherwise.”

— Pitcher Alex Cobb will indeed make his return from a wrist injury on Thursday, Maddon said. Cobb has been out since July.

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One pitcher fights for a better life for fellow Angels minor leaguers. There are signs it’s working

Rocket City Trash Pandas pitcher Kieran Lovegrove walks to the field
Rocket City Trash Pandas pitcher Kieran Lovegrove before a game in June. (Cristina Byrne/Rocket City Trash Pandas)
(Cristina Byrne/Rocket City Trash Pandas)

After a nonprofit organization called Advocates for Minor Leaguers released a report in late July that detailed alarming issues throughout the Angels’ farm system, Angels double A pitcher Kieran Lovegrove decided to speak up.

In a story published by ESPN, he aired rare public critiques as an active player against his team and the minor league system.

“The way I went about it was aggressive and controversial, at least from the internal perspective of baseball,” Lovegrove said. “However … if we had tried to handle it internally, it would have been snuffed out as it always has been.”

Except that what always has been might not be for much longer. Because, while this season might have begun like the others, Lovegrove said it is finishing with signs of change.

It began with a July statement from Angels general manager Perry Minasian, vowing the club would address the grievances. Soon after, the first tangible improvement materialized: an extra pregame meal for players across the Angels’ farm system that Lovegrove described as a small but impactful addition.

And then, this past weekend, came another encouraging development: a sit-down between Lovegrove, Minasian and Angels director of player personnel Ray Montgomery that the pitcher described as “overwhelmingly positive dialogue.”

Lovegrove and other minor league advocates maintain such steps are only the beginning, that the Angels — like many other clubs — still have a long way to go to rectify what they believe has been years of inadequate minor league support.

Yet, as Lovegrove prepares to enter retirement from baseball this offseason, he is feeling a newfound optimism; that finally, “we feel seen, we feel heard,” he said. “And I think that’s what a lot of guys, and especially myself, had been missing.”

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Arrest warrant reportedly issued against Angels’ Luis Rengifo in Venezuela

Angels infielder throws Luis Rengifo throws against the Detroit Tigers on June 18.
(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

An arrest warrant has reportedly been issued in Venezuela against Angels infielder and Venezuela native Luis Rengifo, according to multiple news reports from that country.

A story published Thursday by Venezuelan news outlet La Tabla said Rengifo was alleged to have forged divorce documents in order to sell property in the country without the consent of his wife.

The Angels did not comment on the situation.

Rengifo, 24, has been with either the Angels or their triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees, since the beginning of the season. He started at shortstop for the Angels in Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

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Packy Naughton struggles, Kyle Tyler sharp again in Angels’ 9-3 loss to the White Sox

Angels starter Packy Naughton gives the ball to manager Joe Maddon.
Angels starter Packy Naughton was removed from Tuesday’s game during the third inning.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

Angels manager Joe Maddon likes the fact his team is being challenged with a tough schedule to finish the year.

“That’s when you want to see your guys,” Maddon said. “You don’t want to see them necessarily against teams that are out of the race.”

But while that might help with the club’s long-term development, it certainly makes wins tougher to come by. And on Tuesday night, the Angels opened their latest difficult series with their seventh loss in 11 games, falling 9-3 to the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Here are three observations from the game.

Naughton struggles

Angels pitcher Packy Naughton delivers against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning Tuesday.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

After a relatively smooth start to his big league career, Packy Naughton ran into trouble in his fifth MLB outing Tuesday, giving up four runs in 2 2/3 innings.

“It all comes down to execution,” Naughton said when asked what was different about his outing. “You gotta try to limit the damage, which I didn’t do a good job of tonight.”

After working around a hit batter in the first inning, Naughton gave up a solo home run to Luis Robert and an RBI single to Gavin Sheets in the second, then was pulled following back-to-back two-out hits in the third.

“They weren’t as deceived by the changeup,” Maddon said. “First inning, dropped a nice curveball in for a strike. I thought he got inside with some fastballs. But second into the third, they were just getting on everything.”

Reliever Andrew Wantz didn’t help Naughton’s cause, failing to strand either inherited runner. Leury Garcia drove in one with an RBI single. Sheets left the park in the next at-bat with a towering three-run homer to right-center.

After giving up just four earned runs in his first 14 major league innings, Naughton saw his ERA rise to 4.32 by the end of Tuesday.

So, does he still feel as confident as he did about pitching at the highest level?

“Oh yeah,” the long-haired 25-year-old said with a grin. “That’ll never go away, trust me. That’s always gonna be there.”

Tyler sharp again

Angels reliever Kyle Tyler delivers against the Texas Rangers on Sept. 5.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

While fellow rookies Wantz and Oliver Ortega also struggled on the mound Tuesday — Wantz was charged with three runs in an inning, while Ortega yielded two in 1 1/3 innings — Kyle Tyler finished the night strong in what was only his third major league appearance.

The right-hander threw three scoreless inning, stranding all three runners who reached base even without recording a strikeout.

“He’s really pitch efficient, very composed out there,” Maddon said. “He’s thrown well to both righties and lefties and been a strike-thrower.”

Since being called up late last month, Tyler has yet to give up a run in seven total innings. And though each of those outings came in low-leverage situations, Maddon said the team might look to give the former 20th-round draft pick an increased role his next time out.

“We’re gonna probably put him in a tighter game to see if that holds up,” Maddon said. “Because he definitely walks out there and is not taken by the situation at all. He did well again.”

Stranded runners

While the White Sox beat up on the Angels’ inexperienced pitching, the lineup still created opportunities to get back in the game.

After Phil Gosselin opened the scoring with a solo home run in the first inning, Jared Walsh hit a two-run blast in the fourth that got the Angels back within three.

After that, however, they squandered one opportunity after another, leaving the bases loaded in the fifth before grounding into inning-ending double-play with the bases loaded again in the sixth and eighth innings.

“The double plays really hurt us,” Maddon said. “The at-bats to get to those points were outstanding. And then we hit some hard ground balls right at people.”

On the night, the Angels left nine men on base and went one for seven with runners in scoring position.

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Angels vs. White Sox recap: White Sox win 9-3

A recap of the Chicago White Sox’s 9-3 win over the Angels on Tuesday.

Top 1st, 1-0 Angels — Phil Gosselin homers: Shohei Ohtani didn’t go yard in his first at-bat Tuesday night, but Phil Gosselin did, sending a solo shot to left field for his sixth home run of the season.

Bottom 3rd, 6-1 White Sox — Packy Naughton exits early; Andrew Wantz gives up home run: Packy Naughton failed to get through the third inning Tuesday.

The left-hander gave up a solo home run Luis Robert and RBI single to Gavin Sheets in the second, then was removed with two outs in the third after yielding hits with two outs.

Andrew Wantz came out of the bullpen but couldn’t strand either runner, giving up an RBI single to Leury Garcia and then a long three-run homer to Sheets.

It ballooned Naughton’s final line to four runs in 2 2/3 innings. He gave up six hits, walked one and struck out two.

Top 4th, 6-3 White Sox — Jared Walsh hits 27th homer: Jared Walsh trimmed the Angels’ deficit to three with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 27th of the year. Walsh now has hits in 12-straight games with an at-bat.

Mid 5th, 7-3 White Sox — Angels squander bases-loaded chance: After the White Sox extended their lead on an RBI from Yasmani Grandal in the fourth, the Angels loaded the bases on three walks in the fifth but failed to scored, with Luis Rengifo striking out to retire the side.

Bottom 5th, 9-3 White Sox — Chicago adds to lead: The White Sox tacked on a couple more runs in the fifth against Angels rookie reliever Oliver Ortega. Cesar Hernandez drove in one run with a double, then Ortega committed a balk that allowed Gavin Sheets to score from third.

Final, White Sox win 9-3: Neither team scored over the final four innings as the White Sox took Tuesday’s series-opener, dropping the Angels to 70-74 and 4-7 since the start of September.

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Jo Adell out of Angels’ lineup again; Alex Cobb could return Thursday

Jo Adell was out of the Angels’ lineup for a second-straight game on Tuesday as he continues to battle backside soreness.

Adell got hurt on Saturday night after colliding with an outfield wall trying to make a catch. Manager Joe Maddon said the rookie outfielder could be available off the bench for Tuesday’s series-opener against the Chicago White Sox, but wasn’t sure how soon he could start again.

Adell had been in the midst of a hot-streak, with hits in eight-straight games. Since being called up in early August, the former first-round pick is batting .246 with four home runs and 26 RBIs.

Cobb could pitch Thursday

The Angels are hopeful that pitcher Alex Cobb could take the mound in Thursday’s series-finale at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Cobb has been out since late July with a right wrist injury, but felt good after a recent three-inning simulated game last Friday.

In 15 starts this season, Cobb has a 3.82 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings.

Pitchers coming back

Relief pitchers Jose Marte and Austin Warren could rejoin the Angels active roster as soon as this weekend, while starter Reid Detmers is scheduled to be activated around Sep. 25, according to Maddon.

All three have been out since battling COVID-19 issues late last month.

Marte is scheduled to be back for Friday’s game against the Oakland A’s. Warren is expected back for Sunday’s finale of that series. And Detmers is continuing to get stretched out for either a start or bulk-relief role over the final week of the season.

Ohtani’s next start

Maddon said Shohei Ohtani’s next pitching start is “penciled” down for Friday against the A’s.

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Joe Maddon hopes MVP race isn’t ‘swayed’ by HR battle between Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Shohei Ohtani entered Tuesday second in MLB's home run chase. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Long out of the playoff picture, the Angels lost the need for any scoreboard watching this September.

On Tuesday afternoon, manager Joe Maddon said he hasn’t been consumed by the tight race for the major leagues’ home run crown either.

For the first time since June 28, Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani entered Tuesday trailing in the long ball race, after Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. passed him Monday by belting his 45th of the season.

While that development reignited the MVP debate between Ohtani and Guerrero in some baseball circles, Maddon tried to isolate its importance to the all-around year-end award.

"[Guerrero is] having a wonderful offensive year, no question about it, but so is our guy,” Maddon said. “And I hope that people don’t get swayed to think that just by winning the home run title, that would impact the MVP race.”

Guerrero and Ohtani have been jockeying for both honors — MVP and the home run title — for most of the summer.

The Angels’ lineup struggled to generate offense in a rubber-match loss to the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Ohtani’s historic two-way season, including 44 home runs and 94 RBIs as a batter to go with a 3.36 earned-run average with 136 strikeouts as a pitcher, has made him the heavy favorite for the American League MVP.

Lately, however, Guerrero has helped lift the Blue Jays into the thick of the wild-card race while also keeping his chances of becoming the majors’ first triple crown winner since 2012 alive.

Guerrero entered Tuesday leading the AL in batting average and tied for third in RBIs.

Ohtani, meanwhile, remains the MLB leader in wins above replacement, according to both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference.

Ohtani said earlier this season that both the MVP award and home run title are accomplishments he’d be honored to win, though he also noted he is simply focused on finishing the season “strong and healthy.”

Maddon is also intrigued by the home run race — something an Angels player hasn’t won since Troy Glaus’ club-record 47-homer season in 2000 — even if it isn’t something he is following too closely.

“It’s gonna continue along this way,” Maddon said.

Indeed, with three weeks left in the season, there’s still plenty of time for both races to come down to the wire.

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