CHICAGO -- Even as they found themselves slipping precipitously in the American League Wild Card race over the past week, the Angels could at least cling to the hope that they weren't out of it. But on Wednesday night, those final sparks of optimism dissipated, as they were eliminated from playoff contention following a 6-4 walk-off loss to the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Nicky Delmonico crushed a two-run home run off Blake Parker in the 10th inning, allowing the Twins to clinch the second AL Wild Card spot and ensuring the Angels will miss the postseason for a third consecutive year.
Still, the Angels said they could take some pride in keeping their postseason dreams alive until Game 158 despite suffering a series of significant injuries during the season.
"There were so many times during this year where our season could have gone south and taken turns where we wouldn't even be talking about the possibility of the playoffs," manager Mike Scioscia said. "The group of guys in there kept it together. They can be proud of that. They gave everything they had. We didn't leave a shred of anything anywhere. We left it all on the field all the way through, and as disappointing as it is, these guys definitely gave it their best shot."
For the second straight year, the Angels' pitching staff struggled to stay healthy, as Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker and Alex Meyer all experienced lengthy stints on the disabled list, forcing the club to assemble a patchwork rotation. They suffered an even bigger blow in May, when Mike Trout tore a ligament in his left thumb, which required surgery and triggered a six-week absence for the two-time AL MVP.
But the Angels managed to stay afloat through the adversity. Rookie Parker Bridwell and converted reliever JC Ramirez helped stabilize the rotation; Andrelton Simmons' elite defense, coupled with his strides at the plate, made him one of the most valuable players in the AL; and the Angels' workhorse bullpen, led by Yusmeiro Petit and Parker -- who both made the team as non-roster invitees out of Spring Training -- often held leads when called into action.
"A lot of guys stepped up," Trout said.
The Angels' best showing came in August, when they went 18-10 and prompted general manager Billy Eppler to bring in reinforcements to plug the holes in an inconsistent lineup. On Aug. 31, Eppler swung a pair of trades for Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips, hoping the moves would be enough to vault the Angels past a crowded field of Wild Card contenders.
But the Angels still couldn't generate enough offense in September, dropping eight of their last 10 games and allowing the Twins to pull away with the final postseason berth in the AL.
"Obviously we'd like to be in the playoffs, but the fact that we were in it for basically the entire season is something you can hang your hat on," Richards said. "I think we're a little bit disappointed that it came to an end, but we put ourselves in this position with the last two to three weeks of play. We had hope until the end, but we're just disappointed."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.