AL Central Week in Review (June 24-30)

USA TODAY Sports

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 30:

Team W L GB RS RA DIFF
Detroit 43 37 - 396 325 +71
Cleveland 44 38 - 396 368 +28
Kansas City 38 41 4.5 313 304 +9
Minnesota 36 42 6 329 357 -28
Chicago 32 47 10.5 298 350 -52

The Indians had a huge huge, winning six games on the road, while the Tigers stumbled, moving the teams into a tiw for 1st place. Cool Standings (used by ESPN) now projects 87 wins the the Indians and gives them a 43% chance of making the playoffs (up from 31% a week ago), while Fangraphs' advanced standings now project 82 wins for the Indians, putting them 9 games back of Detroit and 4 games back of the second wildcard (1 fewer than a week ago).

Detroit Tigers (1-5)

The Tigers hosted the Angels during the week and were swept. The opener was a 14-8 smashing, with Rick Porcello allowing 7 runs in 4.1 innings and FIVE errors by Detroit leading to 5 unearned runs. On Wednesday Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter each homered, but it wasn't enough to escape another defeat. It took extra innings Thursday afternoon to complete the sweep, when Doug Fister allowed just 1 run in 7 innings, but got little help from the lineup and Phil Coke couldn't prevent a pair of runs from scoring in the 11th, leading to a 3-1 loss.

Detroit was off to Tampa Bay for the weekend and Friday night they snapped the losing streak on the shoulders of 7 strong innings from Max Scherzer, who picked up the win, making him 12-0 on the season, the first starter to reach that record since Roger Clemens all the way back in 1986. Cabrera had a pair of home runs in the win, while Prince Fielder added one. Saturday, Justin Verlander continued to be less than his best, but limited the damage to 3 runs (2 earned). For the second time of the week though, Detroit fell in extras, with a 10th inning highlighted by Cabrera taking offense at being pitched high and tight by Fernando Rodney. In Sunday's finale, Rick Porcello beaned Ben Zobrist (warnings were issued, but he was not ejected), but the Rays had the last laugh, winning 3-1, dropping Detroit to 1-5 for the week.

Player of the Week: Miguel Cabrera (.417/.440/1.125, 10 H, 5 HR, 7 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Jhonny Peralta (.190/.261/.190)

Cleveland Indians (6-2)

The Tribe began their week in Baltimore. Ubaldo Jimenez allowed just 2 runs, but made it through only 5.1 innings Monday, but the bullpen pitched shutout baseball the rest of the way and Michael Brantley drove in 4 runs to lead the team to victory. Tuesday, Justin Masterson cruised through 6 innings, then had things fall apart on him in the 7th, leading to a 6-3 loss. Scott Kazmir was great on Wednesday, allowing just one (unearned) run in 7.1 frames, but the Indians trailed in the 9th before rallying for the win. Jason Kipnis homered for the second game in a row. Unfortunately, Corey Kluber was off his game in Thursday's finale and the Indians settled for a split series.

Next came a weekend trip to Chicago, for 4 games in 3 days with the White Sox. Friday was a doubleheader. Trevor Bauer was knocked out in the 1st inning of game 1, setting up what seemed like a grim situation. The offense exploded for 19 runs though, led by Kipnis reaching base safely 6 times (3 2B, 3 BB) and scoring 4 runs. Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez also made their returns in that game. In the nightcap, The Indians led early, but trailed late. In the 9th inning though, they put together a rally, topped off by Nick Swisher hitting a long home run to right field. Vinnie Pestano earned the save at 1:06 a.m., in what was the longest doubleheader in MLB history for two 9-inning games. Ubaldo took the mound again Saturday and was shaky again. Once again though, the pen backed him up, this time with four scorless frames. Home runs by Kipnis and Cabrera led the team to another win. Masterson made things easy on his teammates Sunday, becoming the first pitcher in baseball with 3 shutouts this season (and the first Indian with 3 in a season since Dennis Martinez in 1994). The win gave Cleveland a sweep and a share of 1st place.

Player of the Week: Jason Kipnis (.478/.606/1.043, 11 H, 9 BB, 9 R, 10 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Trevor Bauer (1 start, 0.2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER)

Kansas City Royals (3-3)

The Royals hosted Atlanta for two games during the week. Eric Hosmer homered on Tuesday, but it wasn't enough to keep K.C. from losing 4-3. Luis Mendoza pitched Wednesday and allowed only 2 runs in 6.1 innings. Alex Gordon hit his 7th home run of the year, but it wasn't until he collected his 3rd hit of the night, a single in the 11th inning, that K.C. was able to pick up the win.

The Royals were then off to Minnesota for the weekend. Jeremy Guthrie pitched pretty well in the series opener, but the offense managed just 1 run in a 3-1 loss. The bats awoke Friday though, with two home runs from Hosmer, along with one apiece from Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas. It was the kind of support James Shields has been missing all season, and it allowed him to pick up just his third win of the year (even though he has an impressive 2.99 ERA and averages 7 innings a start). Things broke bad again Saturday though, as Wade Davis allowed 6 runs and left after recording only 3 outs. The bullpen pitched 7 shutout innings, but the Royals couldn't come back. K.C. did manage to salvage a split of the series on Sunday though, led by rookie David Lough, who had a huge game, with 3 doubles and a home run in a 9-8 win.

Also: The Royals designated Jeff Francoeur for assignment.

Player of the Week: Eric Hosmer (.292/.320/.792, 7 H, 4 HR, 6 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Lorenzo Cain (.188/.235/.313)

Minnesota Twins (2-4)

Minnesota traveled to Miami for two games with the Marlins. Kevin Correia allowed only 2 runs in 6 innings Tuesday, but the offense never got much going and the bullpen allowed a couple more to score, leaving the Twins with a 4-2 loss. The hitting didn't pick up much Wednesday, and Scott Diamond last only 5 innings as Minnesota fell again.

The Twins then returned home to host the Royals for 4 games. Samuel Deduno was on his game Thursday night, allowing just 1 run over 7 innings. Justin Morneau had a pair of doubles and Glen Perkins picked up his 20th save of the season. Friday, P.J. Walters continued to struggle, allowing 6 runs and finished just 3 innings in what became a 9-3 defeat. Top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson was called up and pitched Saturday's game. He allowed only 2 runs in 6 innings and picked up a win in his MLB debut, with a Trevor Plouffe 3-run homer providing most of the damage in a 6-2 win. Morneau, Plouffe, and Clete Thomas each homered in Sunday's finale, but neither Correia or the bullpen could record outs, and Minnesota dropped the game 9-8.

Player of the Week: Justin Morneau (.350/.409/.700, 7 H, 4 2B, 6 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Joe Mauer (.208/.296/.208)

Chicago White Sox (1-5)

Chicago hosted the Mets for two games during the week. Chris Sale struck out 13 over 8 innings. Closer Addison Reed couldn't hold the lead (due largely to a ridiculous infield fly with two outs that saw 2B Gordon Beckham come crashing in at the last second, causing the ball to fall in, tying the game. Chicago rallied to win in the bottom of the 9th though. On Wednesday the bats were silenced and the Sox were shutout for the 7th time already in 2013 (by week's end they'd take shutout #8, which leads the American League), giving them a split of the short series.

After their second day off of the week, the Sox hosted Cleveland next. Friday's doubleheader began with Chicago scoring 5 runs in the 1st inning with Adam Dunn and Jeff Keppinger each homering. Hector Santiago couldn't hold the lead though, allowing 5 runs of his own before exiting in the 3rd. Brian Omogrosso had an even harder time, allowing 9 runs in 2.1 innings of relief. The Sox scored a season-high 10 runs, but allowed 19. Game 2 included 3 more hits from Keppinger and Chicago led 8-5 in the 9th. Reed fell apart though, allowing 4 runs that left the Pale Hose with another loss. Saturday brought a more ho-hum 4-3 defeat, about as typical a score for the 2013 White Sox as there is. Sale took the bump Sunday, looking to prevent a sweep, and struck out 10 in 8 innings. Chicago's offense never scored though and out came the brooms.

Player of the Week: Jeff Keppinger (.409/.480/.636, 9 H, 4 R, 4 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Alex Rios (.050/.091/.050, 5 strikeouts)

2013 Player Power Poll

Pitchers:

1) Chris Sale (CHW) - 106.1 IP, 2.79 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 9.65 K/9, 2.03 BB/9, 158 ERA+

2) Max Scherzer (DET) - 110.1 IP, 3.10 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 10.69 K/9, 2.04 BB/9, 138 ERA+

3) Anibal Sanchez (DET) - 81.2 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 11.13 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, 156 ERA+

4) James Shields (KC) - 111.0 IP, 2.99 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.98 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, 136 ERA+

5) Justin Masterson (CLE) - 124.0 IP, 3.48 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 9.07 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, 110 ERA+

Hitters:

1) Miguel Cabrera (DET) - .373/.461/.680, 207 RC+, 118 H, 25 HR, 82 RBI

2) Jason Kipnis (CLE) - .299/.384/.533, 153 RC+, 22 2B, 51 RBI, 19 RBI

3) Joe Mauer (MIN) - .320/.404/.480, 144 RC+, 96 H, 24 2B, 49 R

4) Carlos Santana (CLE) - .289/.378/.458, 134 RC+, 46 BB, 20 2B, 37 R

5) Prince Fielder (DET) - .274/.370/.469, 128 RC+, 43 BB, 21 2B, 62 RBI

The Week Ahead

Indians: 3 @ Kansas City, 4 vs. Tigers (ending Monday)

Royals: 3 vs. Indians, 3 vs. Athletics

Tigers: 4 @ Blue Jays, 4 @ Indians (ending Monday)

Twins: 4 vs. Yankees, 3 @ Blue Jays

White Sox: 3 vs. Orioles, 3 @ Rays

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