While the Angels continue winning and have all but locked up the AL West title, the struggling White Sox may have lost slugger Carlos Quentin for the season and are clinging to a slim division lead as they open a 10-game homestand against Los Angeles on Friday night.
Chicago announced on Friday afternoon that Quentin has a broken wrist and will undergo surgery next week. Quentin, who leads the AL with 36 homers and has driven in 100 runs, will be re-evaluated in two-to-three weeks.
The left fielder missed the last two contests with what was believed to be a sore forearm.
His absence comes at a bad time for the White Sox (78-62), whose AL Central lead over second-place Minnesota is at 1 1/2 games. Chicago lost five of seven to close a nine-game road trip and only stayed atop the division because the Twins struggled on a 14-game trip, which ended Thursday.
“We’re just trying to put things together for the rest of the season,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told his team’s official Web site. “We’ll try to put it together as much as we can, win as many games and see what happens.”
Los Angeles has been doing plenty of winning.
With a 7-1 victory over Detroit on Thursday, the Angels (85-54) reduced their magic number for clinching their fourth West title in five years to six, meaning they’re likely to celebrate during a seven-game homestand next week.
They’ve won five of seven to pad their division lead to a major-league best 17 games.
The White Sox, meanwhile, hope a return home, where they’re 46-22 this season, will change their fortunes. Chicago took a step in the right direction Wednesday, finishing its trip with a 4-2 win over Cleveland even though it was without Quentin, Ken Griffey Jr. and Joe Crede due to injuries.
Griffey missed the whole series with the Indians due to back pain, but could return Friday. Crede, though, may be out for the year with a back problem.
The White Sox lead the majors with 201 home runs, but they’ve totaled 16 runs in their last seven games.
Chicago may need a quick return to form by Mark Buehrle (11-11, 4.12 ERA) if it hopes to get back to the playoffs for the first time since winning the World Series in 2005. The left-hander has struggled in his last three starts, going 1-1 with a 7.41 ERA.
He gave up seven runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-2 loss at Boston on Saturday.
“Everything was high,” Guillen said. “He can’t afford to be high up in the strike zone, because that’s not his pitching philosophy.”
Buehrle hasn’t beaten the Angels since throwing a complete game against them in the 2005 ALCS. Since then, he’s 0-3 with a 6.45 ERA in six starts versus Los Angeles, with Vladimir Guerrero hitting four home runs off Buehrle in 15 at-bats over that span.
There’s a chance these teams could meet in the playoffs again, especially with the Angels tied for the major league lead in wins entering Friday’s games. Despite the huge division lead, however, Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t want his team easing up in the final few weeks of the regular season.
“We need to play good baseball. We need to regain our continuity,” Scioscia told his team’s official Web site. “We’re not doing things as crisply right now as we did maybe a couple weeks ago.”
The Angels will have Dustin Moseley (1-3, 7.15) on the mound Friday to make a spot start in place of Jered Weaver, who suffered cuts on his fingers in the dugout this week. It will be the right-hander’s first outing since before the All-Star break.
Moseley has made one career appearance against the White Sox, coming out of the bullpen and allowing Jim Thome’s 500th home run - a walk-off shot in Chicago’s 9-7 win Sept. 16.
The Angels are 4-3 against Chicago this year, taking two of three at U.S. Cellular Field from May 23-25. Los Angeles has the best road record in baseball at 42-26.