AL Central standings (through Sunday, May 11):
Four of the five teams had a winning record last week, topped by Cleveland. Detroit has the best record in MLB though, and has already built a solid lead over its AL Central brethren.
Here's a recap of each AL Central team's action from last week, with highlights, lowlights, injury updates, and more:
Detroit Tigers (4-3)
SB Nation Site: Bless You Boys
The Tigers began their week by winning the first three games of a 4-game set at home against Houston, before losing the series finale on Thursday. Victor Martinez hit three home runs in the series, while Miguel Cabrera hit two. Max Scherzer pitched 8 shutout innings on Monday, while Robbie Ray (who was the centerpiece of Detroit's return on the deal that sent Doug Fister to Washington) made his MLB debut on Tuesday, allowing only 1 run in 5.1 innings.
The weekend brought the Twins to town. The Tigers offense never got anything going Friday night, and despite allowing only 2 runs in 7 innings, Justin Verlander took the loss against Minnesota for the first time in more than four years. Scherzer helped Detroit rebound on Saturday, picking up his fifth win of the season, while getting help in the form of more home runs from Cabrera and Martinez. Leading 3-0 after 6 innings on Sunday, the Tigers looked like they would take the series, but their shaky bullpen struck again, allowing the win to slip away.
Random Stat of the Week: The Tigers have attempted 1.21 stolen bases per game, highest in the American League. Their 75% success rate places them in the middle of the pack (tied for 7th in the AL).
Chicago White Sox (4-3)
SB Nation Site: South Side Sox
The White Sox played four games against the Cubs this week, first two at Wrigley, then two at Comiskey US Cellular. Good starts by Jose Quintana and Hector Noesi helped the Sox win the first two games, and they won Wednesday's contest too, with Gordon Beckham hitting his second home run in as many days. The Pale Hose couldn't finish off the season-series sweep though, dropping Thursday's game 12-5, after rookie Scott Carroll allowed 6 runs in 4 innings. Alexei Ramirez had 4 hits in the loss, lifting his average to .338.
The Sox hosted Arizona over the weekend, and won the first game 9-3, as Ramirez added another two hits and Jose Abreu hit his 13th home run of the year. Paul Konerko finally hit his first home run of the season Saturday (#435 for his career, 43rd most of all time), but it wasn't enough to avoid defeat. The offense went quietly on Sunday, leaving Chicago with a 5-1 loss that dropped them back below .500 on the season.
Random Stat of the Week: White Sox starting pitchers have walked 4.48 batters per 9 innings, the highest rate of any team in baseball. Their Starters (3.89) and their relievers (5.47) are both dead last in MLB.
Kansas City Royals (4-3)
SB Nation Site: Royals Review
The Royals were out west this week, starting in San Diego. Eric Hosmer hit his first home run of the season Monday, but KC blew leads in the 9th and 12 innings and lost. They rebounded for an extra-inning win on Tuesday, after Jeremy Guthrie allowed just 1 run in 8 innings, then they took the series with another win on Wednesday, this time by a decisive 8-0 score. Hosmer had 3 hits and drove in 4 runs, while James Shields tossed 7 shutout innings, continuing his strong season.
The next stop was Seattle. Danny Duffy pitched well Thursday, but Kansas City's offense managed only four hits and never got a runner as far as third base, losing 1-0. Jason Vargas threw 7 shutout frames Friday, and 3 hits apiece for Hosmer, Salvador Perez, and Alex Gordon helped the Royals to a 6-1 win. Saturday was another loss caused by too-little offense, but the lineup bounced back for its best game of the week on Sunday, scoring 9 runs on 12 hits to grab hold of a series split before returning home.
Cleveland Indians (5-2)
SB Nation Site: Let's Go Tribe
The Indians hosted Minnesota during the week, and dropped Monday's game (despite getting 6.2 shutout innings from Zach McAllister) because the offense could manage only 3 hits in 10 innings. The Tribe bounced back to pull out close wins on Tuesday and Wednesday, then blew Thursday's game wide open for a 9-4 win. Asdrubal Cabrera narrowly missed becoming the first Indian to hit for the cycle since 2003 (only 7 in franchis history have ever done it), due to the official scorer ruling that what might have been a triple was only a double (with the advance to third base coming on a throw home).
The Tribe traveled to Tampa Bay next, where they extended their season-best winning streak to four games Friday night, getting 9 strikeouts from Corey Kluber, and home runs by Cabrera, Michael Brantley, and Mike Aviles. John Axford was pulled with the bases loaded and two runs in, and while the Indians held on to win, it was announced on Saturday he's being removed from the closer's role. Cleveland lost that evening's game, but the Indians took Sunday's rubber match 6-5, with Josh Tomlin making his second solid start of the week, and Nyjer Morgan playing hero with 3 hits, including his first home run.
Random Stat of the Week: Carlos Santana has an awful .147 BA, but the highest walk rate in MLB, at 20.0%, allowing him hold a .319 OBP at the moment, which is above the MLB average.
Minnesota Twins (3-4)
SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town
The Twins were in Cleveland for four games during the week. They won the opener 1-0 in 10 innings, after Kyle Gibson pitched 7 shutout innings and Eduardo Escobar hit his first home run of the season. The rest of the series didn't go so well, as Minnesota fell behind before the end of the 3rd inning in each game, and was never able to come back and pull ahead. Joe Mauer missed the entire series with back spasms, and Thursday's loss dropped the Twins into the division cellar.
It was off to the Motor City next, and Minnesota was able to win Friday night on the strength of 7 shutout innings by Phil Hughes, who improved to 4-1. Gibson was hit hard early on Saturday, and chased after only 2 innings in a lopsided loss (Mauer returned, so there was that). Sunday's finale didn't look good for Minnesota, who trailed 3-0 heading into the 7th, but they rallied to take a 4-3 lead, and Glen Perkins picked came in with two outs in the bottom of the 8th and retired all four batters he faced, picking up his tenth save of the season.
Random Stat of the Week: Ricky Nolasco has allowed a .320 batting average and .893 OPS to opposing hitters; both figures are the highest in the American League.
Royals: Francisley Bueno (P) is on the DL with a sprained finger, he could be back this week; Bruce Chen (SP) is on the 15-day DL with a bulging disc, he will be out until at least late May; Omar Infante (2B) has not played since May 6 due to back stiffness
Tigers: Andy Dirks (OF) is on the DL with a back injury, he could return in early June; Joel Hanrahan (RP) is on the DL as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, he could join the team in early June; Jose Iglesias (SS) is out til at least August with fractured shins; Luke Putkonen (RP) is out with right elbow inflammation, he could be back this week; Anibal Sanchez (SP) is out with finger laceration, but is expected to throw a simulated game on Tuesday and could be back Sunday
Twins: Oswaldo Arcia (OF) is on the DL with a strained wrist, he could return this week; Sam Fuld (OF) was placed on the 7-day DL with a concussion; he could be back this week; Mike Pelfrey is on the 15-day DL with a strained left groin, he could be back next week; Josh Willingham (OF) is on the DL with a fractured left wrist, he could be back this week
White Sox: Adam Eaton (OF) is on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain; Nate Jones (RP) is on the 6-day DL after having back surgery, he could be back after the All-Star break; Jeff Keppinger (INF) is on the DL after having back surgery, he could be back this week; Felipe Paulino (SP) is on the DL with right rotator cuff soreness, he could be back this week; Chris Sale (SP) is on the DL with a left forearm strain, he could be back next week
Player Power Poll
(Each week this alternates between the division's top hitters and pitchers of the season)
5) Yordano Ventura (KC) 42.1 IP, 2.34 ERA, 183 ERA+, 3.37 FIP, 9.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9
4) Corey Kluber (Cle) 51.2 IP, 3.48 ERA, 110 ERA+, 2.39 FIP, 9.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9
3) James Shields (KC) 53.1 IP, 2.70 ERA, 158 ERA+, 3.46 FIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.0 BB/9
2) Justin Verlander (Det) 54.0 IP, 2.67 ERA, 157 ERA+, 2.90 FIP, 7.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9
1) Max Scherzer (Det) 53.0 IP, 2.04 ERA, 205 ERA+, 2.79 FIP, 11.2 K/9, 2.70 BB/9
The Week Ahead
Indians: 3 @ Blue Jays, 3 vs. Athletics
Royals: 2 vs. Rockies, 4 vs. Orioles
Tigers: 3 @ Orioles, 3 @ Red Sox
Twins: 3 vs. Red Sox, 3 vs. Mariners
White Sox: 3 @ Athletics, 3 @ Astros