Playoff hopes dwindling after miscues vs. Sox

Playoff hopes dwindling after miscues vs. Sox

CHICAGO -- The Angels have slipped to the brink.

After falling to the last-place White Sox, 4-2, in Monday's series opener at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Angels dropped five games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot with six games left, putting them on the verge of elimination.

The Angels' playoff odds, which FanGraphs pegged at 38.8 percent just nine days ago, are now less than one percent following the club's 1-7 skid.

"We're in a tough spot, but that's why we play until Oct. 1," left fielder Justin Upton said. "All we can do is try to play our best baseball for these last six games and see what happens."

After playing six consecutive games against the Astros and the Indians, the class of the American League, the Angels appeared to have a prime opportunity Monday to reverse their downturn against the White Sox, who are in the midst of a rebuild and started veteran right-hander James Shields, who brought a 5.40 ERA into the matchup.

But the Angels' offense generated only two runs over seven innings against Shields and his new three-quarters arm slot. The Angels had tried to address their offensive holes by adding Upton and Brandon Phillips through a pair of trades on Aug. 31, but they've been outscored 38-22 over their last eight games, averaging only 2.8 runs per game over that stretch.

"It was definitely a different Shields," said Mike Trout, who crushed his 30th home run of the season to cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth inning. "He was moving the ball around tonight. He was keeping guys off-balance."

Trout's 30th home run

The Angels also hurt their cause with a pair of defensive miscues on Monday. In the first inning, Andrelton Simmons made an errant throw on a grounder off the bat of Tim Anderson, putting runners on second and third with no outs for the White Sox. Nicky Delmonico took advantage by delivering a two-out, two-run double off Ricky Nolasco, which gave Chicago an early 2-0 lead.

"Obviously, you give them four outs, and it gets tough," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Those guys got a key hit to get a couple runs early."

Upton also lost a fly ball in the lights in the third inning, allowing Avisail Garcia to reach on a leadoff triple. Matt Davidson then hit a sacrifice fly to extend the White Sox's lead to 3-1.

"I took off and I could see it, and then when I got to a certain angle, it just went in the lights," Upton said. "It is what it is. It's part of the game."

Now two games below .500 for the first time since Aug. 8, the Angels (77-79) could be formally eliminated as early as Tuesday with the combination of a Twins win and a Halos loss. Given the Angels' dreary outlook, a reporter asked Scioscia after game, "What do you guys do right now, just play until you're out?"

Scioscia, somewhat defiantly, responded, "Play until we get in, how about that?"

"We are where we are," Scioscia continued. "The one thing we can control is what we're doing. We didn't get it done tonight, that's disappointing. We've got to come out here tomorrow with the same energy and hopefully get the game on our terms. That's what we want to do."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.