AL Central Week in Review (June 17-23)

Joe Robbins

Last week's action around the division, with the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Tribe and their rivals.


A.L. Central standings through Sunday, June 23:

Team W L GB RS RA DIFF
Detroit 42 32 - 373 291 +82
Cleveland 38 36 4 345 329 +16
Kansas City 35 38 6.5 285 277 +8
Minnesota 34 38 7 304 327 -23
Chicago 31 42 10.5 272 307 -35

Cool Standings (used by ESPN) now projects 83 wins the the Indians and gives them a 31% chance of making the playoffs (up from 26% a week ago), while Fangraphs' advanced standings now project 80 wins for the Indians, putting them 13 games back of Detroit and 5 games back of the second wildcard (3 fewer than a week ago).

Detroit Tigers (4-3)

The Tigers hosted Baltimore to begin their week. On Monday, Max Scherzer struck out 10 over 6 innings and was helped by 3 hits from Miguel Cabrera, including a home run. Justin Verlander wasn't as sharp, and took the loss Tuesday after allowing 5 runs and lasting just 5 innings. Rick Porcello was roughed about even worse as Detroit dropped Wednesday's rubber match. Jose Valverde also allowed 4 runs in a mop-up inning and has been designated for assignment. Joaquin Benoit will serve as closer for now.

The Tigers stayed home for a 4-game series with Boston next. Detroit trailed 3-2 in the 9th when Jhonny Peralta hit a walk-off home run for the win. Friday night Cabrera had 4 hits, one of which was his 20th home run, but Doug Fister was hit hard (6 runs on 11 hits over 3.1 innings) and the Tigers fell. Scherzer had another good start on Saturday and became the first starter to begin a season 11-0 since Roger Clemens in 1997 as Detroit won 10-3, with Victor Martinez leading the offense by driving in 5 runs. Verlander only lasted 5 innings in Sunday's finale, but the offense picked him up and the Tigers took the series.

Player of the Week: Miguel Cabrera (.536/.606/.821, 15 H, 2 HR, 6 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Prince Fielder (.143/.250/.143, 6 strikeouts)

Cleveland Indians (4-2)

The Tribe hosted Kansas City during the week and got a strong outing from Carlos Carrasco Monday, but the bats couldn't get anything going and a Matt Albers wild pitch (which probably should have been blocked by Carlos Santana) allowed the winning run to score for K.C. in the 9th. The Indians appeared to be headed for another loss Tuesday, until an 8th-inning rally brought them back for the win. In the series finale Justin Masterson struck out 8 and Michael Brantley hit two home runs (matching what had been his season total) to lead the team to victory and push them back above .500.

Next came a another series at home, this one against the Twins. Scott Kazmir had one of his best starts of the year on Friday, lasting 7 innings for only the second time all year, striking out 7 while allowing 1 run. The Indians put 6 runs up in the 1st inning Saturday, then held on for dear life. Corey Kluber wasn't sharp, but got through 5.2 frames while allowing only 3 runs, not so bad. The bullpen allowed 4 more to score, but they held on for an 8-7 victory, getting 3 hits apiece from Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis. Those same two each had 3 hits again Sunday, but this time they weren't enough, as Carrasco labored and the bullpen again allowed a couple to score. Still, the Indians took the series 2 games to 1, their 4th-straight series win.

Player of the Week: Jason Kipnis (.429/.519/.714, 9 H, 4 2B, 7 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Mike Aviles (.182/.296/.182)

Kansas City Royals (2-4)

The Royals were in Cleveland to start their week. On Monday James Shields allowed only 1 run in 6 innings and Kansas City scored the winning run in the 9th when Elliot Johnson scampered home after a wild pitch, moving the Royals into 2nd place. Ervin Santana pitched even better on Tuesday, but the offense and bullpen let K.C. down in a 4-3 loss. Rookie David Lough had three hits in Wednesday's finale, but the offense was otherwise a letdown and the Royal were again defeated. They scored just 8 runs over the 3 games; lack of offense is really hurting the team, wasting what might be the American League's best pitching.

The Royals returned home to host Chicago over the weekend. Jermey Guthrie was hammered for 6 runs and couldn't get out of the 3rd inning Friday night. Eric Hosmer had 2 hits, including a home run, but that was just about it for the offense in a 9-1 defeat. Wade Davis was much better in his start on Saturday, allowing 2 runs in 7 innings, but the bats were again stifled (though Hosmer had 2 more hits) and K.C. fell again. Shields wasn't his best Sunday, but the offense finally battled, getting back-to-back home runs from George Kottaras and Jerrod Dyson in the 5th and capitalizing on two errors to tie the game and then pull ahead in the 8th to avoid being swept.

Player of the Week: Eric Hosmer (.308/.333/.615, 8 H, 5 XBH, 4 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Lorenzo Cain (.111/.158/.111, 7 strikeouts)

Minnesota Twins (4-2)

The Twins were at home to face the White Sox during the week. Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit led Minnesota to victory in Tuesday's opener by each collecting 3 hits and driving in 2 runs. Kevin Correia pitched well on Wednesday, allowing just 2 runs in 6.2 frames, while home runs from Brian Dozier and Justin Morneau provided most of the scoring in another win for Minnesota. Dozier homered again Thursday, and he had plenty of company, as Oswaldo Arcia, Clete Thomas, and Eduardo Escobar each also went long and the Twins finished off the sweep.

The Twins traveled to Cleveland for the weekend dropped Friday night's game 5-1, as the offense managed just 5 hits 2 hits by Tribe killer Trevor Plouffe). On Saturday P.J. Walters walked 5 in the 1st inning, allowing 6 runs and getting pulled after retiring just two hitters. Mauer, Arcia, and Chris Parmalee each homered as Minnesota slowly pulled closer and closer, but the comeback fell just short in an 8-7 loss. Walks were again a problem on Sunday, as Pedro Hernandez issued 6 of them. He limited the damage though, and Minnesota used 12 hits (10 singles) to put up 5 runs and salvage a win.

Player of the Week: Joe Mauer (.407/.448/.778, 11 H, 4 2B, 2 HR, 8 R)

Player of the Weak: P.J. Walters (1 start, 0.2 innings, 5 BB, 6 ER)

Chicago White Sox (2-4)

The White Sox traveled to Minnesota for 3 games with the Twins, losing the first one 7-5 after coming back from an early 4-0 deficit to tie the game, wasting 4 hits from Paul Konerko. Chicago looked to bounce back Wednesday, with ace pitcher Chris Sale on the mound. Sale lasted just 5 innings though, allowing 4 runs, and the bullpen only made matters worse as the Sox lost again. John Danks allowed 12 hits and 6 runs Thursday. Konerko and Adam Dunneach homered, but it wasn't enough for Chicago to avoid the broom treatment.

The road trip continued in Kansas City for the weekend. Hector Santiago allowed only 1 run over 8 strong innings Friday. Dayan Viciedo and Alejando De Aza each homered in a 9-1 win. Jose Quintana allowed 2 runs in 5.1 innings Saturday, then the bullpen came on and pitched 3.2 shutout frames. A sacrifice fly from De Aza plated the go ahead run in the 9th and Addison Reed worked a scoreless frame for his 21st save in a 3-2 win. The short winning streak ended Sunday, when Jesse Crain (who had thrown 29 straight scoreless innings) gave up a pair of singles, then made an error, loading the bases, and with two outs, Alexei Ramirez let one through his legs, allowing the tying and winning runs to score.

Player of the Week: Adam Dunn (.389/.455/1.056, 7 H, 4 HR, 6 R, 8 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Tyler Flowers (.154/.200/.251, 5 strikeouts)

2013 Player Power Poll

Pitchers:

1) Chris Sale (CHW) - 90.1 IP, 2.69 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 9.07 K/9, 2.09 BB/9, 160 ERA+

2) Max Scherzer (DET) - 103.1 IP, 3.05 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 10.63 K/9, 2.09 BB/9, 139 ERA+

3) Anibal Sanchez (DET) - 81.2 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 11.13 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, 154 ERA+

4) James Shields (KC) - 111.0 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.03 K/9, 2.68 BB/9, 139 ERA+

5) Ervin Santana (KC) - 99.0 IP, 2.64 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 7.00 K/9, 1.36 BB/9, 154 ERA+

Hitters:

1) Miguel Cabrera (DET) - .370/.462/.644, 198 RC+, 108 H, 20 HR, 75 RBI

2) Joe Mauer (MIN) - .330/.413/.504, 153 RC+, 91 H, 24 2B, 46 R

3) Carlos Santana (CLE) - .278/.388/.477, 142 RC+, 43 BB, 18 2B, 36 R

4) Jhonny Peralta (DET) - .324/.383/.485, 137 RC+, 85 H, 21 2B, 35 R

5) Prince Fielder (DET) - .277/.376/.467, 129 RC+, 41 BB, 18 2B, 58 RBI

The Week Ahead

Indians: 4 @ Orioles, 4 @ White Sox

Royals: 2 vs. Braves, 4 @ Twins

Tigers: 3 vs. Angels, 3 @ Rays

Twins: 2 @ Marlins, 4 vs. Royals

White Sox: 2 vs. Mets, 4 vs. Indians

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