AL Central Week in Review (August 5-11)

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, August 11:

Team W L GB RS RA DIFF
Detroit 69 47 - 598 443 +155
Cleveland 63 55 7 546 518 +28
Kansas City 61 54 7.5 468 440 +28
Minnesota 52 63 16.5 461 520 -59
Chicago 44 72 25 425 508 -83

Cool Standings (used by ESPN) now projects 86 wins the the Indians, and gives them a 19% chance of making the playoffs, Baseball Prospectus' projects 86 wins, with an 18% chance of making the playoffs, and Fangraphs' advanced standings project 85 wins, putting them 11 games back of Detroit and 5 games back of the second wildcard. All of those are big drops from a week ago.

Detroit Tigers (5-2)

Before a key series in Cleveland began, Detroit learned that SS Jhonny Peralta would be suspended for 50 games for his involvement with Biogenesis, basically ending his season. The Tigers then trailed 2-0 after 8 innings Monday, despite Anibal Sanchez striking out 11 in 7.2 innings. Before a single out was recorded in the 9th though, the Tigers scored 4 runs, with a 3-run HR by Alex Avila doing the most damage, and Detroit won 4-2. Justin Verlander allowed just 1 run in 8 innings Tuesday, and a 3-run HR by Don Kelly helped the Tigers to an easy win. Detroit trailed 3-2 in the 8th on Wednesday, until Miguel Cabrera hit a massive home run. The game eventually went 14 innings, but Detroit pulled out another victory. Thursday's contest included far less drama, as the Tigers took an early 8-0 lead and never looked back. Max Scherzer lowered his ERA to 2.84 while picking up his 17th win.

Their biggest lead of the season in hand, the Tigers moved on to New York for the weekend. Miguel Cabrera hit a long home run to centerfield of Mariano Rivera to tie Friday night's game in the 9th, but Detroit wound up losing in the 10th. Sanchez pitched Saturday, and once again allowed just 2 runs, this time in 7 innings. Cabrera, Austin Jackson, andTorii Hunter all homered in the 9-3 Tigers win. Verlander started Sunday's rubber match, and while he struck out 9, he also allowed 4 runs in 7 innings. Detroit trailed 4-2 in the 9th, when Miguel Cabrera became the first player ever to homer off RIvera twice in the same series. Two batters later, Victor Martinez homered too, tying the game. As on Friday though, the Tigers went on to lose, wasting their comeback.

Player of the Week: Miguel Cabrera (.429/.515/.929, 12 H, 4 HR, 11 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Hernan Perez (.100/.143/.100, 5 strikeouts)

Cleveland Indians (1-6)

The Tribe hosted the Tigers and were staked to a 2-0 lead Monday night, with Corey Kluber throwing 7.1 shutout innings. Chris Perez came apart in the 9th though, and the Indians took a tough 4-2 loss. Adding insult to injury, Kluber, who has been arguably the team's best pitcher this year, landed on the DL with a strained finger. Justin Mastersoncouldn't stop the bleeding Tuesday, as the Indians lost again, managing just 4 hits along the way. Danny Salazar made his second career start Wednesday, and through 7.2 innings he'd limited baseball's most potent lineup to just 2 runs, while striking out 10. He was left in too long though, and while the Indians managed to extend the game to 14 innings, they lost again in the end. After battling Wednesday, the Tribe seemed flat on Thursday. Zach McAllister didn't survive the 3rd inning of a 10-3 loss, as the Indians were swept out of contention in the Central.

The Indians stayed home for the weekend, hosting the Angels. They fell behind 5-0 in the 1st inning Friday night, asScott Kazmir was unable to keep the roll he'd been on going. Carlos Carrasco eventually entered, providing 5 shutout innings, but the offense never got going in a 5-2 defeat. Carrasco will start Wednesday, as Terry Francona wants to get Kazmir some rest. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched fairly well Saturday, but Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen let the game get out of hand in the 8th, and the Tribe took its 6th straight loss. The streak seemed headed for 7, as the Indians fell behind 5-0 Sunday. Suddenly the bats woke up though, for seemingly the first time all week. Nick Swisher and Mike Aviles each hit 2-run homers in the 6th, the Santana tied it with a solo shot in the 7th, before Michael Bourn put them ahead with a single, allowing the Indians to salvage a win at the end of one of their worst weeks in recent history.

Player of the Week: Corey Kluber (1 start, 7.1 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K)

Player of the Weak: Lonnie Chisenhall (.118/.167/.118, 6 strikeouts)

Kansas City Royals (5-2)

The Royals hosted the Twins to begin the week, and stormed to a 13-0 victory in the series opener. LGFT Jeremy Guthrie pitched a 4-hit shutout and the offense featured 4 hits from Mike Moustakas and 3 from Eric Hosmer, including a home run. After all that hitting on Monday, K.C. managed just 4 hits Tuesday and didn't score. James Shields allowed all of the runs in a 7-0 loss. The bats rebounded for Wednesday's finale though, the Royals put up 14 hits, including Alex Gordon's 12th HR of the year. Closer Greg Holland picked up his 30th save of the season in a 5-2 win.

Boston came to town next, bringing the American League's best record with them. Bruce Chen tossed 7.2 shutout innings Thursday, while Billy Butler and Justin Maxwell each homered in a 5-1 win for Kansas City. Ervin Santana was roughed up for 6 runs in 3.2 innings Friday, but a 6-run 6th inning by the Royals put them back ahead and the bullpen provided 5.1 scoreless frames in another victory. Hosmer, Butler, and Maxwell each had 3 hits along the way. K.C. fell on Saturday, despite multihit games from Hosmer and Butler again, as Guthrie wasn't as sharp as in his previous start, but in Sunday's finale the Royals bounced back for a 4-3 win, as Shields went 7 innings and Gordon hit his third home run of the week. K.C. has gone an AL-best 18-5 since the All-Star break, and has entered the wildcard race.

Player of the Week: Billy Butler (.429/.484/.679, 12 H, 4 2B, 6 R)

Player of the Weak: Miguel Tejada (.167/.211/.167)

Minnesota Twins (4-3)

The Twins were in Kansas City during the week. The bats managed just 4 hits Monday, though it hardly mattered, asKevin Correia gave up 6 runs while going just 2 innings, and reliever Ryan Pressly allowed 7 more to score in a 13-0 shellacking. Minnesota turned the tables Tuesday, winning 7-0 on the strength of 8.1 shutout frames from Andrew Albers and home runs by Brian Dozier, Justin Morneau, and Chris Colabello. Dozier added 3 more hits Wednesday, but the Twins lost the rubber match 5-2.

Next up for Minnesota was a trip to Chicago, for four games that would include a doubleheader on Friday. Morneau homered twice to power the Twins to a 7-5 win in the front end, and an Oswaldo Arcia home run in the 10th inning gave Minnesota a 3-2 victory in the nightcap. Morneau and Arcia each homered again on Saturday, but the Twins lost 5-4. In Sunday's finale, Correia rebounded from his rough start earlier in the week to go 7 shutout innings, striking out 7. Dozier and Joe Mauer each homered in a 5-2 win for Minnesota.

Player of the Week: Brian Dozier (.345/.412/.759, 10 H, 2 HR, 7 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Josh Willingham (.118/.211/.353, 7 strikeouts)

Chicago White Sox (4-3)

The White Sox hosted the Yankees for three games and came away with a surprising sweep. Monday's game got a lot of attention due to Alex Rodriguez making his first appearance of the season, but Jose Quintana was the real story. He allowed just 1 run in 6.2 innings as Chicago won 8-1. Chris Sale continued his outstanding season by allowing just 1 run (unearned) in 7.1 innings Tuesday and the Sox won 3-2. Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, and Gordon Beckham each had a pair of hits in Wednesday's finale. It took 12 innings, but Chicago finished the series with a 6-5 win, giving them their firsts sweep since May.

The Sox traded Alex Rios to Texas on Friday, then hosted Minnesota for the weekend. Friday brought a doubleheader and Chicago led the opener 3-1 going into the 7th, but four different relievers were charged with runs in an eventual 7-5 defeat. In the second game, Alexei Ramirez and Blake Tekotte each hit a solo home run, but that was all the scoring for the Sox, who lost 3-2 in 10 innings. Paul Konerko had a pair of hits Saturday, and Jordan Danks homered, helping Chicago to a 5-4 win. Sunday's contest was much the same as Friday night's, as two solo home runs (by Adam Dunnand Conor Gillaspie) provided the only scoring in another loss.

Player of the Week: Alexei Ramirez (.382/.382/.618, 13 H, 2 HR, 2 SB, 7 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Tyler Flowers (.167/.167/.167, 6 strikeouts)

2013 Player Power Poll

Pitchers:

1) Max Scherzer (DET) - 158.1 IP, 2.84 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 9.95 K/9, 1.99 BB/9, 148 ERA+, 5.0 bWAR, 4.8 fWAR

2) Chris Sale (CHW) - 149.1 IP, 2.77 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.70 K/9, 2.11 BB/9, 156 ERA+, 5.4 bWAR, 4.0 fWAR

3) Anibal Sanchez (DET) - 125.2 IP, 2.58 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.95 K/9, 2.72 BB/9, 163 ERA+, 3.8 bWAR, 4.2 fWAR

4) Jose Quintana (CHW) - 143.1 IP, 3.70 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.28 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, 117 ERA+, 3.6 bWAR, 2.7 fWAR

5) Justin Verlander (DET) - 158.2 IP, 3.57 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.74 K/9, 3.23 BB/9, 118 ERA+, 2.6 bWAR, 3.5 fWAR

Hitters:

1) Miguel Cabrera (DET) - .365/.459/.686, 150 H, 36 HR, 85 R, 110 RBI, 208 wRC+ 58 bBat*, 61 fBat*

2) Joe Mauer (MIN) - .318/.402/.462, 130 H, 32 2B, 56 R, 139 wRC+, 21 bBat, 21 fBat

3) Jason Kipnis (CLE) - .290/.370/.483, 27 2B, 68 RBI, 21 SB, 138 wRC+, 22 bBat, 20 fBat

4) Carlos Santana (CLE) - .264/.363/.444, 60 BB, 29 2B, 50 RBI, 126 wRC+, 17 bBat, 14 fBat

5) Torii Hunter (DET) - .311/.341/.474, 137 H, 27 2B, 71 R, 121 wRC+ 10 bBat, 12 fBat

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

The Week Ahead

Indians: 3 @ Twins, 3 @ Athletics

Royals: 3 vs. Marlins, 5 @ Tigers

Tigers: 3 @ White Sox, 5 vs. Royals

Twins: 3 vs. Indians, 4 vs. White Sox

White Sox: 3 vs. Tigers, 4 @ Twins

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