AL Central Week in Review (July 8-14)

Jason Miller

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, July 14:

Team W L GB RS RA DIFF
Detroit 52 42 - 477 388 +89
Cleveland 51 44 1.5 454 429 +25
Kansas City 43 49 8 365 373 -8
Minnesota 39 53 12 379 427 -48
Chicago 37 55 14 345 405 -60

Cool Standings (used by ESPN) now projects 87 wins the the Indians, and gives them a 39% chance of making the playoffs (up from 28% a week ago), while Fangraphs' advanced standings now project 84 wins for the Indians, putting them 8 games back of Detroit and 6 games back of the second wildcard (1 fewer than a week ago).

Detroit Tigers (4-3)

Detroit began its week with a series finale against the Indians, winning 4-2 in ten innings, when Victor Martinez plated two runs with a double. Max Scherzer allowed 2 runs in 7 innings of work.

The Tigers then returned home to host the White Sox, whom they somehow hadn't yet played all season. Justin Verlander struggled Tuesday, giving up 12 hits and 5 runs in 7 innings. Miguel Cabrera hit one of 3 Detroit home runs, but they weren't enough to escape defeat. On Wednesday the Tigers banged out 15 hits in an 8-5 win, with Cabrera, Martinez, and Prince Fielder each collecting 3. The benches cleared in the 6th inning of Thursday's finale, shortly after Anibal Sanchez allowed a grand slam. Detroit went on to lose 6-3. These teams still have 16 games against one another, so if bad blood lingers, there's plenty of time for things to get ugly.

Detroit ended its first half with three at home against the Rangers. The Tigers put up 11 hits and got 6 innings of 2-run ball from Doug Fister in a 7-2 win in Friday night's contest. Saturday was a different story, as Detroit's offense managed just 1 run. Meanwhile, Scherzer gave up 4 runs in 6 innings and took his first loss of the season, dropping him to 13-1. In Sunday's rubber match, Torii Hunter, Martinez, and Jhonny Peralta each homered and Verlander threw 7 shutout innings (taking a no-hitter into the 7th). Verlander didn't return for the 8th though, because of a sore quad. It's reportedly not serious, but will certainly be worth keeping an eye on.

Player of the Week: Victor Martinez (.444/.483/.704, 12 H, 5 XBH, 6 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Austin Jackson (.172/.226/.310, 10 K)

Cleveland Indians (5-2)

The Tribe hosted the Tigers on Monday, concluding a 4-game set. Scott Kazmir allowed 2 runs in 5.2 innings but the Indians lost 4-2 in ten innings. Lonnie Chisenhall drove in both Cleveland runs.

The homestand continued against the Toronto. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched 6 shutout frames Tuesday, then the pen pitched 3 more. The offense had only 4 hits, but that was enough for a 3-0 win. Justin Masterson started Wednesday's game with 6 shutout innings too, but went back out for the 7th and allowed a pair. Rich Hill, Joe Smith, and a Michael Bourn error combined to allow 3 runs in the 9th, and a comeback attempt in the bottom half fell just short, leaving the Tribe with a 5-4 loss. Danny Salazar made his MLB debut on Thursday, and it was a great one. He regularly hit 97 MPH on the radar, striking out 7 in 6 innings, while allowing just 1 run on 2 hits. Frankly, he was even better than that line sounds.

The first half concluded with the Indians hosting K.C. Corey Kluber struck out 8 in 7.2 shutout innings Friday, while Carlos Santana had a pair of hits and drove in the winning run in a 3-0 win. Kazmir was on the bump again Saturday. He gave up his only 2 runs of the night in the 7th (exiting after 6.2). Fortunately, the Tribe had a cushion (because Chisenhall hit a grand slam in the 6th!), and won 5-3. That made five consecutive quality starts for the Tribe, an impressive run. That streak ended Sunday, because Jimenez lasted just 4 innings (allowing 4 run on 8 hits and 2 walks). The offense battled all day though. Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera each had 3 hits and Jason Kipnis reached safely 4 times in a 6-4 win, sending the Indians into the All-Star break on a 4-game winning streak.

Player of the Week: Danny Salazar (1 start, 6 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 7 K) - The first Indian with 7+ Ks in his debut since Luis Tiant in 1964.

Player of the Weak: Mark Reynolds (.214/.267/.214, 7 K) - His playing time also dropped, as he sat out three games.

Kansas City Royals (2-5)

The Royals began their week in the Bronx for 4 games. Jeremy Guthrie allowed just 1 run in 6.2 innings Monday, while the offense collected 7 extra-base hits in a 5-1 win. James Shields also gave up just 1 run in his start on Tuesday, going 7 innings. Billy Butler homered for the second straight game and K.C. had another victory, this time 3-1. Wade Davis couldn't keep the string of good starts going though, he allowed 8 runs and exited without retiring anyone in the 6th. The offense never got going and K.C. lost 8-1. They were defeated again on Thursday, despite 3 hits from David Lough, as Ervin Santana gave up 8 runs.

The Royals traveled to Cleveland to complete their first half. Bruce Chen made his first start of the year Friday night, after pitching successfully from the pen this season, and allowed just 1 hit in 6 shutout innings. The offense never scored though, and the bullpen allowed 3 runs to score in a loss. Guthrie wasn't as sharp on Saturday as he was earlier in the week. He lasted 7 innings, but allowed 5 runs in another Kansas City defeat. James Shields kept getting into long innings Sunday, leaving after 5 innings, and Tim Collins then allowed 3 more to score. The sweep left Kansas City with a 5-game losing streak and little chance of making the playoffs, as they're now 8 games back.

Player of the Week: Billy Butler (.286/.355/.536, 8 H, 2 HR)

Player of the Weak: Salvador Perez (.087/.192/.130)

Minnesota Twins (2-5)

The Twins began their week in Tampa Bay, in the midst of a tough road trip. Aaron Hicks had 4 hits Monday, but Minnesota lost 7-4. Rookie Kyle Gibson pitched 6 innings Tuesday, giving up 4 runs as the Twins lost again. Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit each had 3 hits on Wednesday, and Minnesota's bullpen pitched 7.1 shutout innings before finally cracking in the 13th inning, sending the team to a 4-3 defeat. The Rays completed the 4-game sweep on Thursday, as Minnesota managed only 4 hits all game.

The road trip and first half ended with 3 games in New York to face the Yankees. Starter Scott Diamond had allowed just 1 hit in 3.1 shutout innings when rain delayed the game. He didn't take the mound when play resumed and his replacement, Ryan Pressly allowed 2 runs to score. Those proved to be all it took as the Twins lost their sixth straight game, dropping them into a tie for last place. They ended the streak Saturday, getting 7 good innings from Samuel Deduno and home runs from Trevor Plouffe, Doumit, and Pedro Florimon. Minnesota then took the series with a 10-4 win Sunday afternoon, 3 hits from Justin Morneau and a home run by Hicks led the way.

Player of the Week: Joe Mauer (.423/.531/.577, 11 H, 4 2B, 6 BB)

Player of the Weak: Oswaldo Arcia (.045/.045/.045, 12 K)

Chicago White Sox (3-4)

The White Sox had a makeup game against the Cubs on Monday. Things were tied heading into the 8th, when Matt Thornton and Nate Jones combined to allow 5 runs to score, putting things out of reach.

The White Sox were in Detroit next. Jose Quintana started the opener, going 8 innings and allowing 3 runs. Dayan Viciedo hit two home runs and Adam Dunn added one, helping Chicago to an 11-4 win. Dylan Axelrod was hit early and often on Wednesday, in what was ultimately an 8-5 loss, evening the series. Chris Sale wasn't his best in Thursday's rubber match, he allowed 10 hits in 6.2 innings, but he limited the scoring to just 3 runs. Chicago was behind 5-3 in the 6th, then rookie catcher Josh Phegley connected for a grand slam, putting the Sox ahead for good.

The weekend brought Chicago to Philadelphia for a series in which 9 innings were never enough. Rain created a Saturday doubleheader. The Sox won the front end 5-4 in 11 innings, getting 4 hits from Alexei Ramirez. Hector Santiago gave up just 1 run in the nightcap, striking out 9 in 7.1 innings. The offense only managed one run of its own though, and the Sox fell in the 13th. Chicago trailed 3-0 in Sunday's finale, but tied the game against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. The comeback was wasted though, the Pale Hose just lost in 10 innings instead of 9.

The White Sox also traded LH reliever Matt Thornton to Boston for OF prospect Brandon Jacobs.

Player of the Week: Alejandro De Aza (.414/.469/.793, 12 H, 6 XBH, 7 R)

Player of the Weak: Jeff Keppinger (.241/.290/.241)

2013 Player Power Poll

Pitchers:

1) Chris Sale (CHW) - 120.0 IP, 2.85 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 9.83 K/9, 2.03 BB/9, 154 ERA+, 4.6 bWAR, 3.2 fWAR

2) Max Scherzer (DET) - 129.2 IP, 3.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 10.55 K/9, 2.15 BB/9, 135 ERA+, 3.8 bWAR, 4.0 fWAR

3) Anibal Sanchez (DET) - 92.0 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10.86 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, 147 ERA+, 2.5 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR

4) Justin Verlander (DET) - 126.0 IP, 3.50 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.93 K/9, 3.21 BB/9, 123 ERA+, 2.9 bWAR, 3.0 fWAR

5) James Shields (KC) - 134.2 IP, 3.21 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7.75 K/9, 2.67 BB/9, 129 ERA+, 2.1 bWAR, 2.7 fWAR

Hitters:

1) Miguel Cabrera (DET) - .365/.458/.674, 204 RC+, 132 H, 30 HR, 73 R, 95 RBI, 49 bBat*, 51 fBat*

2) Jason Kipnis (CLE) - .301/.383/.514, 149 RC+, 23 2B, 57 RBI, 21 SB, 22 bBat, 21 fBat

3) Joe Mauer (MIN) - .320/.402/.473, 142 RC+, 113 H, 30 2B, 50 R, 19 bBat, 20 fBat

4) Carlos Santana (CLE) - .275/.382/.466, 137 RC+, 53 BB, 23 2B, 43 RBI, 19 bBat, 15 fBat

5) Prince Fielder (DET) - .267/.363/.457, 123 RC+, 50 BB, 21 2B, 69 RBI, 10 bBat, 11 fBat

*bBat and fBat are abbreviations I'm using for the hitting component of WAR at Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs, respectively.

The Week Ahead

All-Star Game (Tuesday night)

Indians: 3 @ Twins

Royals: 3 vs. Tigers

Tigers: 3 @ Royals

Twins: 3 vs. Indians

White Sox: 3 vs. Braves

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