Angels go for sweep of White Sox
If Mike Trout is swinging a hot bat, then Shohei Ohtani is swinging something akin to burning lumber.
Trout is coming off a tremendous performance in which he went 5-for-5 with two home runs and five RBIs. The 27-year-old has 33 home runs on the year, matching his total from 2017, and is eight homers shy of his career high of 41 with 20 games to go in the season.
It seems unlikely that Trout will reach that mark, but anything is possible when he goes on a hot streak.
Ohtani has been even better the past few days. He learned Wednesday he needed Tommy John surgery to fix a torn ligament in his elbow that will prevent him from pitching in 2019. But he still is able to swing a bat without pain, and he has made every at-bat count since.
In his past three games, the 24-year-old Ohtani is 7-for-12 with a triple, three home runs and nine RBIs. He has increased his season batting average to .290 with 19 homers and 53 RBIs in 255 at-bats.
“When he got injured on one thing, he can do another,” Trout told reporters in Chicago. “It’s pretty amazing. He could easily shut the season down, but he wants to finish out strong, and he’s worked hard in the (batting) cage and just in general coming to the field.”
Los Angeles (70-72) will wrap up a 10-game road trip. The Angels enter the series finale with a 6-3 record on the trip, but have struggled overall since the All-Star break with a 21-24 record.
Chicago (56-86) has fallen into another rut after playing well over the past few weeks. The White Sox have lost four games in a row, including the last two since learning that prized pitcher Michael Kopech also needs Tommy John surgery and will miss all of the 2019 season.
Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney (8-9, 4.16 ERA) will make his 27th start. He has struggled on the road this year, posting a 1-6 record and a 5.02 ERA, compared with a 7-3 record and 3.26 ERA at home. In two career starts against the White Sox, he is 0-0 with a 2.31 ERA.
Chicago will counter with right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (5-9, 4.37 ERA), who will make his 29th start. He is looking for his first win at home since June 26, when he topped the Minnesota Twins.
Lopez has faced the Angels once, allowing four runs in six innings last season. He did not factor into the decision.
The White Sox will conclude a 10-game homestand, during which they are 3-6, before heading on a nine-game, 11-day trip with series against the Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians.
The White Sox remain without right-handed relief pitcher Nate Jones, who has been out since June 12 because of a strained muscle in his forearm. He has intensified his throwing regimen and could return before season’s end. He is 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA and four saves in 27 games.
“Our hope is he will be back,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria told reporters.