A.L. Central standings through Sunday, June 16:
For the first time all season, the Central has spread farther apart in the standings than a couple other divisions, mostly due to Chicago really struggling. Cool Standings (used by ESPN) now projects 82 wins the the Indians and gives them a 26% chance of making the playoffs (up from 20% a week ago), while Fangraphs' advanced standings now project 78 wins for the Indians, putting them 16 games back of Detroit and 8 games back of the second wildcard (2 fewer than a week ago).
Detroit Tigers (3-3)
The Tigers began their week in Kansas City. In Monday's opener, Miguel Cabrera hit his 18th home run of the year, but the Tigers managed little other offense and fell 3-2, with Doug Fister pitching all 8 innings in the loss. Detroit's offense didn't score many more next night, but Max Scherzer made 3 runs enough and the series was knotted. In Wednesday's finale, Justin Verlander threw 7 shutout innings, striking out 8 and allowing just 3 hits. The Tigers led 2-0 entering the 9th, but Jose Valverde struck again, sending the game to extra frames, where Phil Coke took his 4th loss of the season in relief.
The Tigers looked to get back on track with a weekend trip to Minnesota. In the opener Rick Porcello continued his recent success with 7 shutout frames. Prince Fielder homered and Jhonny Peralta had a pair of doubles in the 4-0 win. The news wasn't as good Saturday. The 6-3 loss Detroit suffered isn't a big deal, but Anibal Sanchez exiting in the 4th inning after his previous start was skipped due to shoulder soreness could be a huge deal. Sanchez has been placed on the DL, potentially derailing an All-Star caliber season. The Tigers did manage to win that rubber match, getting home runs from Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson.
Player of the Week: Austin Jackson (.333/.385/.583, 4 H and 1 HR in his first 3 games back after missing a month)
Player of the Weak: Victor Martinez (.143/.208/.190)
Cleveland Indians (4-2)
The Tribe was in Texas during the week, ending a road trip that had begun 0-6. The spiral continued Monday with a 6-3 loss in which all three runs scored on a double by Carlos Santana. The Indians finally broke the losing streak Tuesday, behind 8 innings from Corey Kluber, who allowed just 1 run. Every Cleveland starter collected at least 1 hit in the game, tying the series. In the rubber match, Ubaldo Jimenez only managed 5 innings, but also allowed just 1 run. Jason Kipnis had 3 hits, including his 9th home run, and the Tribe took the series.
The team returned to Cleveland to host the Nationals for the weekend. Justin Masterson struck out 10 on Friday night, giving up just 1 run in 7 innings. It was still 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th, when Drew Stubbs made a mad dash home on a grounder to first base and just beat the tag, winning the game and giving the Indians their first 3-game winning streak in almost a month. Saturday saw the Tribe fall behind 5-0, come back to take a 6-5 lead, then blow the lead and lose. Santana And Mark Reynolds both homered, but Scott Kazmir didn't survive the 3rd in a frustrating loss. On Sunday, Kluber took the mound again, and pitched 8 shutout innings, escaping multiple dangerous jams and winning himself a lot of new fans as the Indians won their second-straight series.
Player of the Week: Corey Kluber (2 starts, 16 IP, 0.56 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 11 K)
Player of the Weak: Mark Reynolds (.136/.174/.273, 11 K)
Kansas City Royals (5-2)
The Royals were at home against the Tigers during the week. In the first game, Jeremy Guthrie allowed only 2 runs over 6.1 innings and K.C. had its sixth-straight victory, its longest winning streak since 2011. The streak ended Tuesday, despite 6.2 strong innings from Wade Davis, as the offense managed just 5 hits (one of which was the first home run of David Lough's career). In the rubber match, James Shields allowed just 2 runs over 7 innings, but the bats were silenced for 8 innings. A Lorenzo Cain blast to left-center tied the game though and the Royals went on to win in the 10th. All three games in this series ended 3-2, with K.C. on the right end in two of them.
The Royals then had 4 games down in Tampa Bay. Ervin Santana allowed only 1 run (unearned) in 7.2 innings Thursday and the offense exploded for 10 runs, led by 3 hits by 2B Elliot Johnson, including a home run. Johnson, Salvador Perez, and Billy Butler each had a pair of hits Friday night, in another win for Kansas City. The Royals dropped Saturday's contest 5-3, but rebounded for another victory on Sunday, as Davis again pitched well. K.C. has now won 5 games in two straight weeks and finds itself only 1 game below .500, half a game back of 2nd place.
Player of the Week: Elliot Johnson (.389/.389/.722, 7 H, 5 R, 4 RBI)
Player of the Weak: Mike Moustakas (.263/.300/.263)
Minnesota Twins (3-3)
The Twins were at home to face the Phillies during the week. P.J. Walters lasted 7.1 innings in the opener, allowing just 1 earned run. Justin Morneau's third hit of the night plated what proved to be the game-winning run in the 8th inning, as Minnesota took the game 3-2. The Twins struck in the 8th again on Wednesday, this time it was a Clete Thomas double tying the game before Thomas himself scored on a wild pitch. Minnesota was in position for a sweep, leading the series finale 2-1 in the 8th, but Jared Burton couldn't hold the lead and the Twins were defeated.
Next up for Minnesota was a weekend spent hosting the Tigers. The offense could get nothing going Friday night, managing just 3 hits in a 4-0 loss. The bats bounced back on Saturday though, especially that of Trevor Plouffe, in his first game back after missing more than three weeks with a concussion and calf injury. Plouffe had 3 hits, including a home run, and drove in 3 runs in a 6-3 win that also featured 7 good innings from Samuel Deduno. The Twins managed just 3 hits on Sunday though, and dropped the series finale 5-2.
Player of the Week: Clete Thomas (.381/.409/.476, 8 H, 2 2B)
Player of the Weak: Pedro Florimon (.067/.125/.067, 1 single, 6 K)
Chicago White Sox (1-4)
The White Sox hosted Toronto to begin their week, winning 10-6 on Monday. Incredibly, this was just the third time all season they've scored more than 7 runs (the fewest by any MLB team). 4 hits by Adam Dunn, including 2 HR, led the way for Chicago. Addison Reed blew a 9th inning lead on Tuesday and the Sox went on to lose in 7-5 in the 10th, squandering another decent game from the offense. Wednesday's game was postponed due to expected thunderstorms in the area (which came, but weren't all that bad, as the Cubs were able to get their game in the same night).
The Sox traveled to Houston for the weekend. Friday night, Chris Sale made some history, becoming only the second pitcher in history to strike out 14+ and allow 0 earned runs, but take the loss (the first: Cleveland's own Sam McDowell, back in 1968). Dunn homered again Saturday, but Chicago was once again defeated. On Sunday, Chicago fell again, having scored just 8 runs in 3 games against a team that entered the series allowing an average of 5.3 per game. Tonight the Sox get one last chance to avoid being swept by the lowly Astros.
Player of the Week: Adam Dunn (.389/.455/1.056, 7 H, 4 HR, 6 R, 8 RBI)
Player of the Weak: Tyler Flowers (.286/.286/.286)
2013 Player Power Poll
1) Anibal Sanchez (DET) - 81.2 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1.115 WHIP, 11.13 K/9, 2.53 BB/9
2) Chris Sale (CHW) - 85.1 IP, 2.43 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 9.07 K/9, 2.00 BB/9
3) James Shields (KC) - 100.0 IP, 2.79 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 8.10 K/9, 2.34 BB/9
4) Max Scherzer (DET) - 90.1 IP, 3.19 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 10.56 K/9, 2.19 BB/9
5) Doug Fister (DET) - 92.2 IP, 3.21 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 7.38 K/9, 1.36 BB/9
1) Miguel Cabrera (DET) - .352/.447/.625, 189 RC+, 93 H, 18 HR, 54 R, 69 RBI
2) Joe Mauer (MIN) - .321/.409/.474, 145 RC+, 80 H, 20 2B, 37 BB, 38 R
3) Prince Fielder (DET) - .292/.389/.502, 143 RC+, 37 BB, 18 2B, 54 RBI
4) Carlos Santana (CLE) - .284/.387/.486, 145 RC+, 37 BB, 18 2B, 34 R
5) Jhonny Peralta (DET) - .329/.385/.481, 137 RC+, 18 2B, 31 R, 29 RBI
The Week Ahead
Indians: 3 vs. Royals, 3 vs. Twins
Royals: 3 @ Indians, 3 vs. White Sox
Twins: 3 vs. White Sox, 3 @ Indians
White Sox: 1 @ Houston, 3 @ Twins, 3 @ Royals