A.L. Central standings through Sunday, August 18:
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 20% chance of making the playoffs, and Fangraphs projects 86 wins, putting them 9 games back of Detroit and 5 games back of the second wildcard. All of those figures are nearly identical to what they were a week ago.
Detroit Tigers (4-4)
The Tigers began their week in Chicago. On Monday, Miguel Cabrera homered, but Detroit didn't manage much other offense and was defeated. Max Scherzer was on the mound Tuesday, but didn't seem to have his best stuff. He allowed 3 runs (2 earned) in 6 innings and for the second night in a row, the lineup didn't provide much help as the Tigers fell again. Detroit managed to salvage the series finale, though only after falling behind early. Cabrera tied the game with a 3-run homer in the 3rd and Detroit eventually pulled ahead and then held on for a 6-4 win.
The Tigers then returned home for a 5-game series with the Royals. Anibal Sanchez pitched the opener, and as he has in most of his starts this year, he pitched very well, giving up 1 run in 7.1 innings. Prince Fielder hit his first home run in three weeks and Detroit won 3-1. Justin Verlander allowed 2 runs in 8 innings in the first game of a Friday doubleheader, but the offense managed only 2 hits in a 2-1 defeat. The lineup wasn't any better in the second game, which Detroit lost 3-0. Saturday's contest was tied heading into the bottom of the 9th, but on the very first pitch, Miguel Cabrera hit a walk-off home run, tying the series. Cabrera homered again on Sunday (his 40th of the season) and Scherzer went 8 innings while giving up only 2 runs, picking up his 18th win in a 6-3 victory.
Player of the Week: Miguel Cabrera (.303/.361/.727, 10 H, 4 HR, 10 RBI)
Player of the Weak: Austin Jackson (.107/.219/.143)
Cleveland Indians (3-3)
The Indians began a 9-game road trip by heading to Minnesota. Danny Salazar lasted just 4 innings Monday and the home run he allowed to the first batter he faced turned out to be too big a deficit for the lineup to overcome, as the offense put up just 2 hits in a shutout loss. Zach McAllister gave up on 2 runs (1 earned) in 6 innings Tuesday. The Tribe scored a run in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, and then Ryan Raburn added a 2-run home run in the 6th during a 5-2 Cleveland win. The Indians were behind 7-3 entering the 8th inning of Wednesday's series finale, but after a Michael Brantley single made it 7-4, Jason Giambi tied the game with his 8th home run of the season. Carlos Santana put the Tribe ahead in the 10th with a home run of his own, but Chris Perez lost that lead. In the 12 inning, the Indians took the lead again, and this time it held up, as they took the game and the series.
The road trip continued in Oakland, and with the A's holding onto the second wildcard, the series was a chance for the Indians to make up ground in their quest for the playoffs, or fall further back. Friday night the Tribe put 17 runners on base, but was only able to score 2 runs. Justin Masterson pitched well after a 1st inning HR, allowing 3 runs in 7.2 innings, but that left Cleveland with a frustrating 3-2 defeat. On Saturday Ubaldo Jimenez took a no-hitter into the 6th (though his pitch count meant there was zero chance he'd complete such a thing), ultimately allowing 1 run in 5.2 innings. The bullpen provided 3.1 frames of shutout baseball and the offense contributed 7 runs, including home runs by Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, in an easy 7-1 win. Scott Kazmir started Sunday's rubber match, but looked out of gas. 10 hits led to 5 runs in his 5 innings. Ryan Raburn moved into a tie for the team lead with his 15th home run, but it wasn't enough to avoid a 7-3 loss that leaves the team 4.5 games out of a playoff spot.
Player of the Week: Jason Kipnis (.375/.444/.458, 9 H, 2 2B, 4 R)
Player of the Weak: Michael Bourn (.130/.167/.261, 10 strikeouts)
Kansas City Royals (3-5)
The Royals hosted the Marlins to begin their week. Wade Davis allowed only 2 runs in 6 innings Monday and KC used 12 hits to win 6-2. Tuesday night turned into a pitchers' duel, with Bruce Chen throwing 7 shutout frames for the Royals. After 9 innings, the game was still scoreless, with Kansas City having managed only 3 hits. In the 10th, Miami pushed a run across, leaving the Royals with a 1-0 loss. The bats didn't do much better Wednesday, and after Ervin Santana allowed only 1 run in 6 innings, bad defense and relief pitching combined to turn a 2-1 lead into a 5-2 defeat.
The Royals then headed to Detroit for 5 games with the Tigers. KC dropped Thursday's opener, but bounced back in Friday's doubleheader. In the first game, Danny Duffy pitched 6 shutout innings, allowing only 1 hit, and Eric Hosmer hit his 13th HR of the year to help the Royals to a 2-1 victory. In the nightcap, James Shields provided 7 shutout innings and Hosmer homered again as Kansas City won 3-0. Davis wasn't as solid on Saturday as he had been earlier in the week, and was knocked out in the 4th inning. The game was tied heading into the 9th, but Aaron Crow's first pitch was tattooed over the wall, leaving KC with a 6-5 loss. in Sunday's rubber match, Bruce Chen's streak of 6 straight quality starts came to an end as he allowed 6 runs in 5.1 innings and the Royals lost 6-3, dropping them 6.5 games out of the second wildcard.
Player of the Week: Billy Butler (.333/.394/.533, 10 H, 2 HR, 4 R)
Player of the Weak: Alex Gordon (.129/.129/.161, 10 strikeouts)
Minnesota Twins (2-5)
The Twins hosted Cleveland during the week. On Monday Andrew Albers became the first MLB pitcher since Tom Phoebus in 1966 to go 8+ shutout innings in each of his first two career starts. He pitched a shutout as Minnesota won. Tuesday was a different story, as Samuel Deduno allowed 5 runs and the Twins offense struggled through a 5-2 loss. Minnesota jumped out to 7-3 lead Wednesday, but blew the lead and lost in 12 innings. Joe Mauer had 5 hits in defeat, including a home run that tied the game in the 10th. He's pretty good.
The homestand continued as the White Sox came to town. Trebor Plouffe had a pair of hits, including his 12th HR of the year, leading the Twins to a 4-3 win Thursday. Mauer had 3 more hits Friday, including another HR, but the rest of the line floundered through a 5-2 loss. Albers' shutout streak ended in the 1st inning Saturday, one of 5 runs he allowed in 5 innings of what went on to be an 8-5 loss. The Twins put a lot of men on base in Sunday's finale, but left 12 of them there, ultimately falling by a score of 5-2, their 3rd loss in 4 games to the last place White Sox.
Player of the Week: Joe Mauer (.375/.412/.625, 12 H, 2 HR, 7 RBI)
Player of the Weak: Justin Morneau (.207/.207/.241, 6 strikeouts)
Chicago White Sox (5-2)
The White Sox hosted Tigers to begin the week. Chris Sale continued his steller season by pitching a complete game Monday, allowing just 2 runs. Gordon Beckham and Jeff Keppinger each had 3 hits in the win. Hector Santiago pitched well on Tuesday, allowing just 2 runs (1 earned) in 6 innings. Avisail Garcia (acquired in the 3-team Jake Peavy deal) put the Sox ahead with a triple and Chicago eventually won 4-3 (despite 3 errors by shortstop Alexei Ramirez). The Pale Hose jumped out to a 3-0 lead Wednesday and seemed poised to sweep, but John Danks couldn't hold the lead and Chicago fell 6-4.
The Sox then headed to Minnesota. Paul Konerko, who has really struggled for the last month (.215/.279/.312) had his first extra-base hit in a week, but the Sox lost Thursday's opener 4-3. Jose Quintana helped them rebound Friday night, as he struck out 7 while allowing 2 runs in 6.2 innings. Keppinger homered for the second time of the week and Adam Dunn added his 28th blast of the year, as Chicago gained a 5-2 win. Sale struck out 8 in 7 innings Saturday, allowing 3 runs, while Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza each homered in an 8-5 victory. Sunday, Ramirez had 3 hits, including a HR, to lead the Sox to a 5-2 win, making them 9-5 in the last two weeks.
Player of the Week: Adam Dunn (.385/.467/.577, 10 H, 3 XBH 4 R)
Player of the Weak: Josh Phegley (.261/.261/.364, 6 strikeouts)
2013 Player Power Poll
1) Chris Sale (CHW) - 165.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 9.53 K/9, 1.96 BB/9, 156 ERA+, 6.1 bWAR, 4.6 fWAR
2) Max Scherzer (DET) - 172.1 IP, 2.82 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 9.66 K/9, 1.98 BB/9, 149 ERA+, 5.4 bWAR, 5.3 fWAR
3) Anibal Sanchez (DET) - 133.0 IP, 2.50 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.74 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, 168 ERA+, 4.3 bWAR, 4.5 fWAR
4) Justin Verlander (DET) - 166.2 IP, 3.51 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.64 K/9, 3.19 BB/9, 120 ERA+, 3.0 bWAR, 3.6 fWAR
5) Jose Quintana (CHW) - 150.0 IP, 3.66 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.38 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, 118 ERA+, 3.8 bWAR, 2.8 fWAR
1) Miguel Cabrera (DET) - .360/.452/.689, 160 H, 40 HR, 89 R, 120 RBI, 207 wRC+ 61 bBat*, 64 fBat*
2) Joe Mauer (MIN) - .322/.403/.474, 142 H, 34 2B, 62 R, 143 wRC+, 24 bBat, 25 fBat
3) Jason Kipnis (CLE) - .294/.374/.481, 29 2B, 72 RBI, 22 SB, 139 wRC+, 23 bBat, 22 fBat
4) Carlos Santana (CLE) - .262/.363/.443, 63 BB, 30 2B, 54 R, 124 wRC+, 18 bBat, 15 fBat
5) Billy Butler (KC) - .289/.382/.428, 125 H, 65 BB, 62 RBI, 121 wRC+ 14 bBat, 14 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 @ Angels, 3 vs. Twins
Royals: 3 vs. White Sox, 3 vs. Nationals
Tigers: 3 vs. Twins, 3 @ Mets
Twins: 1 vs. Mets, 3 @ Tigers, 3 @ Indians
White Sox: 3 @ Royals, 3 vs. Rangers