AL Central Week in Review (June 3-9)

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last week's action around the division, with the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Tribe (well, there's no 'good' from the Tribe this time) and their rivals.


A.L. Central standings through Sunday, June 9:

Team W L GB RS RA DIFF
Detroit 35 26 - 317 235 +82
Cleveland 30 32 5.5 295 290 +5
Kansas City 28 32 6.5 234 230 +4
Minnesota 27 33 7.5 252 278 -26
Chicago 27 34 8 214 249 -35

The Tigers have built their largest lead of the year. In fact, it's the biggest lead any team has had in the Central since the end of the 2011 season. Cool Standings (used by ESPN) now projects 81 wins the the Indians and gives them a 20% chance of making the playoffs (down from 40% a week ago), while Fangraphs advanced standings now project 78 wins for the Indians (4 fewer than a week ago), putting them 16 games back of Detroit and 10 games back of the second wildcard.

Detroit Tigers (5-1)

The Tigers began their week with three games at home against the Rays. Anibal Sanchez pitched 7 strong innings and Prince Fielder led the offense with 3 hits, including his 12th home run of the season in a 10-1 to begin the series. Wednesday's contest was still 0-0 heading into the 9th, but Doug Fister was left in too long and Detroit lose, 3-0. Next it was Max Scherzer's turn to pitch well and Miguel Cabrera's turn to collect 3 hits, as the Tigers took Thursday's rubber match.

Detroit stayed home for the weekend, with the Tribe coming to see them. Justin Verlander was more good than great, but Victor Martinez homered for the second straight day, the offense capitalized on defensive miscues by Cleveland, and Jose Valverde couldn't quite blow the save. Fielder had multiple hits Saturday and Sunday, as Detroit won both games and swept the series.

Sanchez was scratched his scheduled start on Sunday, but Jose Alvarez (making his MLB debut) pitched well in his place and Sanchez is expected to make his next scheduled start. In other injury news, Austin Jackson is expected back this week (as if Detroit wasn't doing well enough already).

Player of the Week: Victor Martinez (..348/.400/.652, 8 H, 2 HR, 5 R, 4 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Torii Hunter (.200/.259/.240 - This isn't even THAT awful. Damn Tigers...)

Cleveland Indians (0-6)

I don't think you need this recap to know it was a dreadful week for the Tribe, as they were swept by maybe Cleveland's two most hated opponents. First the Indians were swept in the Bronx, falling behind early in each game, then scoring enough to sucker you into getting your hopes up before losing. Adding insult to injury, Asdrubal Cabrerastrained his quad in the opener and had to be placed on the DL. Then came a sweep at the hands of Detroit, dropping them below .500 for the first time in over six weeks. Zach McAllister (the team's second best pitcher this year) was scratched from his start and put on the DL with a sprained finger on his throwing hand. Carlos Carrascowas called up, only to be shelled (he'll now begin serving his 7-game suspension).

A 4-15 run is worse than just some routine bad stretch of baseball, the sort most teams goes through each season (yes, 19 games is a somewhat arbitrary cutoff). Last season 12 teams suffered a 4-15 (or worse) stretch. None of them won more than 79 games. Of the 9 teams with such a stretch in 2011, just one had a winning overall record, and that was the Red Sox, whose awful run came in September and is considered one of the worst collapses in baseball history. 6 teams had a stretch like this in 2010, 10 teams in 2009, and all together from 2009 to 2012, there were 37 such teams. None of them made the playoffs, only three finished with a winning record (90 wins for the 2011 Red Sox, 84 for the 2009 Rays, 83 for the 2010 Rockies), and their average record was 70-92. I'll take the 'over' on that for this year's Indians, but things are pretty grim at the moment.

Player of the Week: No one.

Player of the Weak: Nick Swisher (.043/.154,.043 - 1 for 23, 7 K, 2 errors in one game, which may have been the difference between winning and losing.)

Kansas City Royals (5-1)

The Royals hosted Minnesota during the week and in Tuesday's opener they were sent to a franchise-record 11th straight home loss. The Royals have done a lot of losing over the last 28 years, so any record for futility they set is really saying something. They bounced back for a win on Wednesday, with Billy Butler supplying 3 hits and Jeremy Guthrie allowing only 1 run in 6 innings. Then K.C. took the series on Thursday, with Butler, Eric Hosmer, andLorenzo Cain each collecting a pair of hits.

The homestand continued with the Astros visiting for the weekend. James Shield threw seven solid innings Friday, allowing just 2 runs. He didn't get the win, but the Royals did, after scoring two late runs. On Saturday it was Ervin Santana's turn to pitch well and the offense did plenty in a 7-2 win. There wasn't as much offense on Sunday, butLuis Mendoza provided 7 scoreless frames and 8th inning runs gave K.C. a sweep of the series and a five-game winning streak. Would you believe that's their longest winning-streak since 2011? They haven't managed 8 straight wins in over a decade (and with Detroit up next, they aren't likely to get to 8 this time either).

Player of the Week: Billy Butler (.429/.500/.619, 9 H, 4 2B, 3 BB, 3 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Alcides Escobar (.111/.111/.222 - 2 for 18 with no walks.)

Minnesota Twins (2-4)

The Twins were in Kansas City from Tuesday to Thursday, and took the first game 3-0 on the strength of 6 shutout innings from Samuel Deduno and a Ryan Doumit home run. They dropped the next two games though, undone by a lack of offense and a wave of unearned runs and then by reliever Jared Burton allowing 4 late runs in the series finale. Doumit homered again in that one, and Justin Morneau had 2 hits, but they weren't enough.

The weekend brought a trip to our nation's capital, to face the Nationals. After rain washed away Friday night's game, the Twins were able to pull out a win on Saturday. Joe Mauer homered and Doumit drove in the game-winner in the 10th inning after Minnesota's bullpen had thrown 4.2 scoreless innings. On Sunday they played a double header.Scott Diamond was hit hard in the opener, while the Twins could muster just 3 hits and were shutout 7-0. The nightcap was a closer affair; MInnesota found itself down 5-4 in the 9th, but was able to get two men aboard with two outs before a Josh Willingham foul out left the Twins on the short end of the game and the series.

Player of the Week: Ryan Doumit (.273/.360/.591, 6 H, 2 HR, 3 BB, 5 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Jamey Carroll (.000/.158/.000 - This is his second straight week here and his OPS for the season is just .494. The 39-year-old may be reaching the end of his playing days.)

Chicago White Sox (3-4)

The White Sox were in Seattle to begin the week. Chicago got Gordon Beckham back Monday (he'd missed the last two months), but lost. On Tuesday Jake Peavy was hit early and often, exiting in the 3rd inning of what would become the White Sox' 8th straight defeat. The series ended in historic fashion Wednesday; the game was 0-0 through 13 innings, before the Sox blew it open with 5 runs. However, in the bottom half the Mariners became the first team ever to tie a game back up with so many runs so many innings into a game. Chicago scored again in the 16th though and 5 hours and 42 minutes after the game started, Chicago broke its losing streak.

Chicago then returned home for four games with Oakland. The Athletics won the first two games, each by only a run. The White Sox bounced back on Saturday, with John Danks allowing just 1 run over 8 innings, picking up his first home victory since 2011. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko each homered for Chicago along the way. The White Sox were able to salvage a series split on Sunday, this time behind home runs by Tyler Flowers and Alex Rios and a strong start by Hector Santiago.

Player of the Week: Alejandro De Aza (.393/.455/.429, 11 H, 4 BB, 5 R, 4 RBI

Player of the Weak: Dayan Viciedo (.100/.136/.150 - Another guy spending his second-straight week here, he's regularly being pulled late in games recently.)

2013 Player Power Poll

Pitchers:

1) Anibal Sanchez (DET) - 78.0 IP, 2.65 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 11.31 K/9, 2.19 BB/9

2) Chris Sale (CHW) - 77.1 IP, 2.68 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 8.38 K/9, 2.09 BB/9

3) James Shields (KC) - 93.0 IP, 2.81 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 8.13 K/9, 2.32 BB/9

4) Max Scherzer (DET) - 83.1 IP, 3.24 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 10.80 K/9, 2.16 BB/9

5) Doug Fister (DET) - 77.0 IP, 3.27 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.71 K/9, 1.40 BB/9

Hitters:

1) Miguel Cabrera (DET) - .363/.447/.641, 193 RC+, 89 H, 17 HR, 49 R, 67 RBI

2) Joe Mauer (MIN) - .332/.414/.498, 150 RC+, 76 H, 20 2B, 37 R

3) Prince Fielder (DET) - .289/.394/.509, 144 RC+, 36 BB, 12 HR, 51 RBI

4) Carlos Santana (CLE) - .284/.388/.483, 143 RC+, 34 BB, 16 2B, 33 R

5) Jhonny Peralta (DET) - .338/.382/.493, 138 RC+, 16 2B, 31 R, 26 RBI

The Week Ahead

Indians: 3 @ Rangers, 3 vs. Nationals

Royals: 3 vs. Tigers, 4 @ Rays

Tigers: 3 @ Royals, 3 @ Twins

Twins: 3 vs. Phillies, 3 vs. Tigers

White Sox: 3 vs. Blue Jays, 4 @ Astros

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