The magic number for the Chicago White Sox to clinch their first AL Central Division title since 2008 is nine over the Cleveland Indians, and the Pale Hose get back two of their most important players off the injured list in Tuesday's home series opener against the Los Angeles Angels in shortstop Tim Anderson and starting pitcher Lucas Giolito. Halos star Shohei Ohtani will take the field not leading the majors in homers for the first time in months. Chicago is a huge favorite at Caesars Sportsbook.
Anderson is the engine that makes the White Sox lineup go as the leadoff hitter. The team is 63-45 with him in the lineup this year compared to just three games over .500 without. The former batting champion is hitting .302 with 14 homers, 53 RBIs and 17 steals in 108 games. He hasn't played since Aug. 28 due to a hamstring injury.
Giolito (9-9, 3.69) hasn't pitched since Aug. 31 due to a hamstring injury. With such a big lead in the division, the Pale Hose can play it a bit safe in bringing these guys back and not push them too hard. It's doubtful that Giolito pitches a lot of innings tonight, for example, and Anderson is going to get plenty of days off the rest of the regular season.
Chicago lost three of four at the Angels at the beginning of the season. Giolito faced them on opening day and allowed two runs over 5.1 innings in a no-decision. Ohtani is 4-for-12 career off Giolito with one homer. The dual-threat star is now one behind Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the MLB home run lead as Baby Vlad hit his 45th on Monday when the Angels were off.
Ohtani is still a heavy -5000 favorite to win AL MVP even though Guerrero might win the AL hitting Triple Crown – he's batting .318, just ahead of Astros' Michael Brantley (.315), and his 103 RBIs are four shy of the White Sox's José Abreu. Guerrero is now one shy of Joe DiMaggio's record for home runs by a player age 22 or younger in the American League.
Ohtani is scheduled to pitch Thursday in Chicago. It's young lefty Packy Naughton (0-2, 2.57) tonight in his fifth big-league appearance. He hasn't seen the White Sox.
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