A.L. Central standings through Sunday, May 12:
The AL Central continues to be more closely bunched together than any other division in baseball. Here's a look at each teams' results from last week:
Cleveland Indians (6-1)
The Tribe played 4 games with Oakland during the week, the series could not have gone much better. On Monday Mark Reynolds was hit by a pitch in his first AB and responded by later hitting a tape measure home run, one of four HR the Indians hit in a 7-3 win. Zach McAllister pitched 7.2 shutout innings Tuesday, for another victory, then Justin Masterson picking up his fifth win on Wednesday, in a game marked by controversy after the umpiring crew incorrectly ruled a game-tying home run by the A's to have been a double. Thursday the Wahoos finished off the 4-game sweep, with Scott Kazmir recording 10 strikeouts for the first time since 2009.
Michael Bourn returned to the team just in time for a big 3-game series in Detroit. The Indians got their butts kicked Friday night (leading to some doom and gloom around these parts), but on Saturday the lineup wore Justin Verlander out, collecting 6 hits and 5 walks, and chasing him after just 5 innings. Meanwhile, Ubaldo Jimenez struck out 8 over 6 innings, his second solid start of the week. Nick Hagadone allowed Detroit to make a game of it, but the Tribe held on. In Sunday's rubber match the Tigers look an early lead and had chances to blow it open, but couldn't capitalize, Bourn's speed helped tie the game in the 9th and the Tribe won in the 10th, moving into a share of 1st place.
Player of the Week: Nick Swisher (.308/.379/.692, 1.072 OPS, 8 H, 5 HBH, 6 R, 4 RBI) - His best week of the season so far.
Player of the Weak: Drew Stubbs (.143/.143/.143, 9 strikeouts) - It's good that Michael Bourn is back, because now Stubbs can be platooned (he doesn't hit right handed pitching).
Detroit Tigers (1-4)
The Tigers were in D.C. for a pair of games to begin the week. Anibal Sanchez pitched fairly well in the opener, but the offense managed just one run in a 301 loss. The offense was a bit better Thursday, most notably 3 hits by Omar Infante and a 3-run home run by Matt Tuiasosopo, but Doug Fister lasted only 3 innings, only the second time all year a Detroit started hasn't gone at least 5, and the Tigers had another loss.
Next up came three games at home against the red-hot Indians. Max Scherzer wasn't at his best Friday night, but it didn't matter, as led by home runs by Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Andy Dirks, Detroit's bats come alive for 10 runs on 15 hits. Justin Verlander didn't have his best stuff and lasted just 5 innings Saturday. A 7th inning rally made a game of it, but the Tigers couldn't finish the comeback bid. They were set to win the series finale, ahead 3-2 in the 9th, but Jose Valverde blew it, wasting a strong start by Rick Porcello and dropping into a tie for 1st place.
Miguel Cabrera already has 40 RBI, putting him on pace for 185. The AL record is 184 (Lou Gehrig, 1931) and the most by any player since 1938 is 165 (which I'm sure you recall was done by Manny Ramirez in 1999).
Player of the Week: Jhonny Peralta (.438/.550/.750, 1.300 OPS, 7 H, 4 BB, 1 HR, 8 R)
Player of the Weak: Austin Jackson (.158/.200/.211, 6 strikeouts) - Jackson didn't play Sunday because he's dealing with a sore hamstring.
Kansas City Royals (1-6)
The Royals began their week by finishing a series with the White Sox Monday. Kansas City was ahead 1-0 in the 9th after getting 8 shutout innings from James Shields, but closer Greg Holland couldn't hold the lead and K.C. lost in the 11th. Then they were off to Baltimore for 3 games. They had chances to win the opener, but hit into 3 double plays and lost 4-3. On Wednesday poor defense did them in, as 3 errors (including 2 by shortstop Alcides Escobar) allowed a pair of unearned runs to score in a 5-3 defeat. Escobar made another error Thursday, but it wasn't as damaging. Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas all homered and Jeremy Guthrie improved his record to 5-0 as K.C. avoided being swept.
They returned home for a set with the Yankees over the weekend. Wade Davis was hit hard Friday night in an 11-6 loss, his ERA now stands at 5.86 and he he might be another bad start or two from losing his spot in the rotation. James Shields was much better Saturday, lasting 8 innings, but the offense was quiet and the Royals went down again. On Sunday they entered another series finale just trying to keep from being swept, but this time they had no such luck, dropping their fifth game of the week as they prepare to embark on a 9-game road trip.
Player of the Week: Alex Gordon (.393/.379/.786, 1.165 OPS, 11 H, 3 HR, 5 R, 8 RBI) - Gordon continues to be the Royals' best player.
Player of the Weak: Alcides Escobar (.103/.103/.103, 3 errors)
Minnesota Twins (4-3)
The Twins had 4 games in Boston to begin their week. Monday they left 11 runners on base and lost in extra innings, but they bounced back to win the next three. Tuesday it was 7 shutout frames from Scott Diamond, Wednesday it was an explosion of offense, as the Twins scored 15 runs (having not score more than 8 all season before then). Rookie Oswaldo Arcia had 4 hits, Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe, and Ryan Doumit each had 3. Thursday's contest wasn't as dramatic, but a 5-3 win counts for just as much in the standings.
The Twins were back home to face the Orioles next. Mauer collected 3 more hits Friday, but they weren't enough to avoid a loss. Mauer didn't give up though, he had another 3-hit game Saturday, this time the Twins road them to victory. Sunday there wasn't much Minnesota offense at all (though Mauer did manage a paltry 2 hits), as they were blanked 6-0. The Twins are sitting at .500 though, which is better than most people expected.
After hitting 9 doubles last week, Joe Mauer already has 15 on the year, putting him on pace for 71. The MLB record is 67 and no one has hit 60 since 1936.
Player of the Week: Joe Mauer (.533/.600/.833, 1.433 OPS, 16 hits, 9 2B(!), 10 R, 4 RBI
Player of the Weak: Brian Dozier (.174/.174/.348, 8 strikeouts) - This is his second consecutive week in this spot.
Chicago White Sox (3-3)
The White Sox played Kansas City Monday, wrapping up a weekend series. Chris Sale allowed just 1 run over 7.1 innings and Chicago won it on a Jordan Danks HR in the 11th inning. Next the Sox traveled to Queens for 2 games with the Mets. Hector Santiago threw 7 shutout innings in the first game, but the real story was Chicago managing just one base runner all night, an Alex Rios single. The Sox bullpen cracked in the 10th and the Sox were defeated 1-0. They bounced back to take Wednesday's contest after getting home runs from Rios and Alejandro De Aza.
A weekend series at home against the Angels wrapped up Chicago's week. De Aza homered again Friday night, but it wasn't enough to avoid a loss. The Sox were defeated again Saturday, 3-2, the third time on the week they'd scored two runs or fewer. The offense wasn't much better Sunday, managing 3 runs, but Chris Sale took matters into his own hands by carrying a perfect game into the 7th inning and ending up with a complete game shutout.
Player of the Week: Alejandro De Aza (.316/.409/.579, .988 OPS, 6 H, 3 BB, 1 HR, 4 RBI)
Player of the Weak: Jeff Keppinger (.143/.143/.143) - His third week here out of six this season. Keppinger now has 125 PA so far and is yet to draw a single walk.
2013 Player Power Poll
1) Miguel Cabrera (Tigers): .379/.452/.600, 1.052 OPS, 17 HBH, 27 R, 40 RBI
2) Carlos Santana (Indians): .336/.437/.626, 1.063 OPS, 17 XBH, 22 R, 16 RBI
3) Justin Verlander (Tigers): 51.1 IP, 57 K, 1.93 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 2.3 bWAR
4) Anibal Sanchez (Tigers): 45.2 IP, 58 K, 1.97 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2.0 bWAR
5) Joe Mauer (Twins): .341/.418/.496, .915 OPS, 46 H, 15 2B, 18 BB, 22 R
The Week Ahead
Indians: 2 vs. Yankees, 2 @ Phillies, 4 vs. Seattle (series ends Monday)
Royals: 3 @ Angels, 3 @ Athletics
Twins: 3 vs. White Sox, 3 vs. Red Sox
White Sox: 2 @ Twins, 4 @ Angels