Seventeen hours earlier, they had been eliminated from postseason contention, and the club’s collective gaze turned toward 2018. Unsurprisingly, many of the position players received the day off, though the news came as a surprise to some.
“Well,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said as he eyed the lineup card, “I guess I’m not playing today.”
Phillips missed two games earlier this month because of a back strain. Justin Upton, the Angels’ other Aug. 31 acquisition, had played every September game, as had Mike Trout and the rest of the regulars.
Without them, the Angels lost their last road game of 2017, 5-4, to the Chicago White Sox before an announced crowd of 19,596. The defeat ensured the Angels (78-81) will go at least three years between winning seasons.
The Angels managed more extra-base hits than singles. Eric Young Jr. doubled in a run, Carlos Perez homered in two, and C.J. Cron produced a sacrifice fly. Six relievers held the White Sox to six singles and two runs until Jesse Chavez floundered with two outs in the eighth inning.
Rob Brantly’s two-run homer tied the score. After Tim Anderson singled, the White Sox took the lead because left fielder Ben Revere, oddly, threw straight to second base on Rymer Liriano’s single. Because of that decision and because of Revere’s weak arm, Anderson scored all the way from first, a rare occurrence at the sport’s highest level.
“A long, unprotected throw with no cutoff man is what got us tonight,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Again, the Angels conveniently chose to start Bud Norris, their closer for much of this season. Thursday marked his 60th appearance of 2017. Had all of those come out of the bullpen, Norris would have received a $500,000 bonus per the terms of his contract.
But, because he made three starts after Andrew Heaney hurt his shoulder Sept. 9, Norris won’t get the money. Fifty-seven relief appearances and three starts, for him, were not as valuable as 60 relief appearances. Earlier this month, Scioscia said he was unaware of the incentives in the pitcher’s contract.
As Norris took the mound Thursday, the White Sox trolled him, inadvertently or not. The giant scoreboard in center field read: “Norris is the first pitcher in…