A.L. Central standings through Sunday, July 7:
Cool Standings (used by ESPN) now projects 84 wins the the Indians, and gives them a 28% chance of making the playoffs (down from 43% a week ago), while Fangraphs' advanced standings now project 81 wins for the Indians, putting them 12 games back of Detroit and 7 games back of the second wildcard (3 more than a week ago).
Detroit Tigers (5-2)
The Tigers were in Toronto for four games with the Blue Jays. Prince Fielder and Omar Infante each homered in the series opener, but Detroit was still defeated 8-3. Tuesday's game got off to a rocky start, as Doug Fister allowed 4 runs in the 1st inning. He allowed 6 overall, in 6 innings, but the bats and bullpen saved him, with a Miguel Cabrerahome run leading the charge in a 7-6 win. On Wednesday Max Scherzer became the first pitcher since Roger Clemens to start a season 13-0, in a game marked by bad blood after Infante was taken out by a late and high slide at second base and Torii Hunter later being hit by a pitch (Infante has not played since then). In Thursday's finale,Justin Verlander pitched 7 shutout innings in an 11-1 romp. Austin Jackson led the offense with 4 hits.
Next up came a big series in Cleveland. Rick Porcello provided 7 shutout innings and the offense put up 9 hits and 4 walks in a 7-0 win. Anibal Sanchez returned on Saturday, after missing almost a month with a strained shoulder, and while he went only 5 innings, he was just as good as he had been before the injury, allowing only one run. Cabrera, Fielder, and Hunter each homered in Detroit's 9-4 victory. Cabrera and Hunter each homered again Sunday (1 of 4 hits for Cabrera), but Fister again allowed 6 runs, and while the Tigers came back to tie the game late, Al Alburquerque coughed up 3 runs in the 8th, sending Detroit to defeat. The series concludes Monday.
Player of the Week: Torii Hunter (.444/.433/.815, 12 H, 5 XBH, 11 RBI)
Player of the Weak: Jhonny Peralta (.226/.250/.290, 11 K, his second straight week here)
Cleveland Indians (2-4)
The Tribe started the week in Kansas City. In Tuesday's contest Carlos Santana drove in two runs without collecting a hit and the team did just enough to pull out a 6-5 victory, despite Corey Kluber allowing 4 runs in just 5.1 innings.Jason Kipnis continued to run hot on Wednesday, hitting an inside-the-park home run (Kipnis was also named the AL Player of the Month that afternoon), but Scott Kazmir exited without retiring anyone in the 5th and Bryan Shaw then gave up 3 hits, costing the Indians the lead in an eventual 6-5 defeat. In the rubber match, Ubaldo Jimenez cruised through 5 shutout innings, only to have the wheels fall off in the 6th. A parade of relievers only managed to throw gasoline on the fire, turning what had been a 5-0 lead into a frustrating 10-7 loss.
The Indians then returned home to host the Tigers. The series got off to a dreadful start, as Justin Mastersonallowed 11 base runners and 6 runs in only 4.1 innings, while the offense got nothing going in a 7-0 loss. Things were hardly any better Saturday. Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn homered, but Carlos Carrasco allowed 7 runs in 3.1 frames in another defeat (he was demoted to Columbus Sunday morning). On the bright side, Kipnis and Masterson were named to the AL All-Star team. On Sunday the Tribe jumped out to 6-1 lead on the strength of a fine start by Kluber (including 10 strikeouts) and home runs from Santana, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Michael Brantley. Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano gave up that lead, but Brantley's second long ball of the afternoon put the Tribe up for good in a 9-6 win. The series concludes Monday.
Player of the Week: Michael Brantley (.348/.423/.652, 8 H, 2 HR, 6 RBI)
Player of the Weak: Mark Reynolds (.000/.136/.000, 0 for 19, 10 K)
Kansas City Royals (3-3)
The Royals began their week by hosting the Indians, losing the opener 6-5, despite a grand slam from Alex Gordon, after Luis Mendoza allowed 4 runs in 4 innings. Jeremy Guthrie wasn't really any better in his start on Wednesday, but the offense battled, and a solo home run by Eric Hosmer in the 7th put K.C. ahead, with Greg Holland later picking up his 18th save. James Shields didn't have his best stuff in the rubber match, causing the Royals to fall behind, 5-0. A Lorenzo Cain grand slam and solo shot from George Kottaras tied it in the 6th, a Hosmer home run tied it again in the 7th and 3-run double by Salvador Perez in the 8th put Kansas City on top to stay.
The Athletics paid a visit next. Friday night the Royals were unable to score until the 9th inning, and at that point it was too little, too late, losing by a score of 6-3, even though Wade Davis struck out 8 over 7 innings. Ervin Santanaalso lasted 7 frames in his start on Saturday, allowing 3 runs. K.C. trailed at that point, but rallied for a pair of late runs to win 4-3. In Sunday's finale, Mendoza again had trouble, this time allowing 5 runs in a 2nd inning he couldn't survive. Kottaras and Gordon each homered, but the game was never close and ended 10-4, Oakland.
Player of the Week: Eric Hosmer (.360/.370/.600, 9 H, 2 HR, 6 R, two straight weeks here)
Player of the Weak: David Lough (.143/.143/.190)
Minnesota Twins (1-6)
The Twins hosted the Yankees during the week and held a 4-3 lead late in the first game, only to have Jared Burtonand Brian Duensing combine to allow 7 runs in the 8th and 9th, sending them to a 10-4 loss. On Tuesday it was Anthony Swarzak's turn to get rocked in relief, as he allowed 4 runs in a 7-3 loss. The pen was better on Wednesday, but quiet bats meant another defeat, and on Thursday Minnesota was swept, as rookie starter (and top pitching prospect) Kyle Gibson allowed 8 runs on 11 hits, wasting two home runs by Justin Morneau.
The Twins then took to the road, heading to Toronto. Friday night saw Minnesota shut out, extending the losing streak to 6 games, after the Twins hadn't lost more than two in a row since May. Thw tables were turned on Saturday though, as Mike Pelfrey and three relievers combined for a 4-hit shutout, and the offense scored six runs, led by Brian Dozier, who homered and drove in 4 runs on the afternoon. The series finale brought home runs fromAaron Hicks and Trevor Plouffe, but Scott Diamond allowed 6 runs and the bullpen gave up another 5, leaving the Twins with an 11-5 loss, their sixth of the week.
Player of the Week: Brian Dozier (.310/.394/.517, 9 H, 4 XBH, 7 RBI)
Player of the Weak: Pedro Florimon (.125/.125/.125, 2 for 16)
Chicago White Sox (2-4)
The White Sox were at home to face the Orioles and were able to snap a 5-game losing streak on Tuesday, with a 5-2 win paced by 7 innings from John Danks, home runs by Conor Gillaspie and Adam Dunn, and 3 hits fromGordon Beckham. Hector Santiago also went 7 innings Wednesday, but the offense was quiet and Matt Lindstromallowed another two runs in relief, leading to a 4-2 loss. Jose Quintana had 11 strikeouts in 7 shutout frames, but after Nate Jones allowed a pair of Orioles to score in the 8th, the game was knotted in the 9th, until Dunn hit a walk-off home run, giving Chicago a series win.
The Sox faced the Rays in Tampa Bay over the weekend. David Axelrod broke Chicago's string of strong starts, getting knocked out in the 2nd inning of what became an 8-3 defeat. Chris Sale struck out 9 in 7 innings Saturday, but the Sox were shut out 3-0. It was the 9th time that's happened this season, putting them on pace to be shut out 17 times, which would be the most for any American League since the 2003 Tigers. Danks again went 7 innings Sunday, but the offense scored but 1 run (on the first career home run by Josh Phegley). The Sox are averaging 3.67 runs per game, worst in the AL.
Player of the Week: Gordon Beckham (.500/.500/.682, 11 H, 1 HR, 3 RBI)
Player of the Weak: Dayan Viciedo (.200/.238/.200, 6 K)
2013 Player Power Poll
1) Chris Sale (CHW) - 113.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 9.77 K/9, 1.99 BB/9, 158 ERA+, 4.4 bWAR, 3.4 fWAR
2) Max Scherzer (DET) - 116.2 IP, 3.09 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 10.72 K/9, 2.01 BB/9, 139 ERA+, 3.4 bWAR, 3.7 fWAR
3) Anibal Sanchez (DET) - 86.2 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 10.90 K/9, 2.49 BB/9, 159 ERA+, 2.8 bWAR, 3.4 fWAR
4) Justin Verlander (DET) - 112.0 IP, 3.54, 1.36 WHIP, 9.56 K/9, 3.29 BB/9, 122 ERA+, 2.5 bWAR, 3.0 fWAR
5) Ervin Santana (KC) - 118.0 IP, 2.90 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 7.17 K/9, 1.83 BB/9, 141 ERA+, 2.2 bWAR, 1.7 fWAR
1) Miguel Cabrera (DET) - .368/.457/.679, 205 RC+, 125 H, 28 HR, 67 R, 90 RBI, 46 bBat*, 49 fBat*
2) Jason Kipnis (CLE) - .296/.382/.522, 149 RC+, 22 2B, 54 RBI, 20 SB, 21 bBat, 20 fBat
3) Joe Mauer (MIN) - .312/.391/.465, 136 RC+, 102 H, 26 2B, 49 R, 15 bBat, 16 fBat
4) Carlos Santana (CLE) - .266/.373/.455, 131 RC+, 49 BB, 21 2B, 40 RBI, 15 bBat, 12 fBat
5) Prince Fielder (DET) - .266/.361/.462, 123 RC+, 46 BB, 21 2B, 66 RBI, 10 bBat, 11 fBat
*bBat and fBat are the abbreviations I'm using for the hitting component of the WAR calculations at Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs, respectively.
The Week Ahead
Indians: 1 vs. Tigers, 3 vs. Blue Jays, 3 vs. Royals
Royals: 4 @ Yankees, 3 @ Indians
Tigers: 1 @ Indians, 3 vs. White Sox, 3 vs. Rangers
Twins: 4 @ Rays, 3 @ Yankees