AL Central standings (through Sunday, July 13):
The Tigers had another winning week, and have built a commanding lead. Here's a recap of each AL Central team's action from last week:
Detroit Tigers (5-1)
SB Nation Site: Bless You Boys
The Tigers began their week with two games at home against the Dodgers. Justin Verlander gave up 5 runs in the 1st inning on Tuesday, but followed that up with 5 more innings without allowing any more runs. Meanwhile, Detroit's offense exploded for 14 runs on 20 hits, including a triple by Miguel Cabrera, which doesn't happen every week (or even every year). The Tigers picked up a sweep of the short series on Wednesday, winning 4-1 on the strength of 7 strong innings from Max Scherzer and a double and triple from Austin Jackson.
Next up was a four-game set in Kansas City, against the 2nd place Royals. The Tigers lit them up for 19 hits Thursday, and won 16-4. Cabrera and Eugenio Suarez each had a pair of doubles in the romp, part of 8 two-baggers for the team on the night. Friday's game was far closer, but Detroit won 2-1, with Anibal Sanchez going 7 innings. Rick Porcello picked up his 12th win of the year Saturday, allowing 1 run in 7 innings. Alex Avila and J.D. Martinez each homered in the 5-1 victory. The Tigers led 2-0 in the 7th inning Sunday, nine outs from a sweep and a perfect week. Verlander (who'd been cruising, gave up four straight singles to start the inning though, and by the time the inning ended, Detroit was behind 5-2, which would be the final score.
Random Stat of the Week: Rajai Davis' 24 stolen bases are the most by a Tiger in the first half since Roger Cedeno had 28 in 2001.
Kansas City Royals (3-4)
SB Nation Site: Royals Review
The Royals were in Tampa Bay during the week. They won the opener 6-0, after James Shields struck out 10 in 7 shutout frames, and Alex Gordon and Omar Infante each pitched in 3 hits. On Tuesday Kansas City left 11 men on base, turning 13 hits into only 3 runs, and losing 4-3. Yordano Ventura wasn't sharp in the rubber match, and the Royals trailed 4-2 heading into the 9th, still in the game only because the bullpen had a great night. In the 9th Salvador Perez hit his 11th home run of the season, a 3-run shot that put KC ahead and gave them a win.
KC hosted the Tigers for four games to end the first half. Things did not go well. Thursday was a 16-4 loss, with every Royals pitcher who appeared allowing multiple runs, including 8 in 4 innings by Jeremy Guthrie. Kansas City did better Friday, but lost again, this time 2-1. Shields pitched 7 innings Saturday, giving up only 2 runs, but the offense floundered and when Aaron Crow gave up 3 more runs in the 9th, any chance of a comeback was gone. The Royals trailed 2-0 in the 7th, but rallied to score 5 runs that inning, with a ground-rule double by Eric Hosmer capping the scoring, and allowing them to avoid a crushing sweep. Still, a 6.5-game deficit, less than three weeks after they were in 1st place, represents a very disappointing position for Kansas City.
Random Stat of the Week: Reliever Wade Davis' 1.13 ERA is the lowest in Royals franchise history by any pitcher with 30+ innings in the first half.
Cleveland Indians (4-3)
SB Nation Site: Let's Go Tribe
The Indians hosted the Yankees for a four-game set during the week. Justin Masterson lasted only 2 innings in the opener, as the Tribe fell 5-3. I've wanted him to go on the DL for weeks, and this game finally made it happen, so at least there's that. Cleveland bounced back for a 5-3 win Tuesday; Trevor Bauer went 7 innings and Michael Brantley had 3 hits, including a home run. The Indians had a number of good chances to win on Wednesday, but squandered each of those opportunities and lost in 14 innings, having left 11 men on base. They rebounded again in the series finale though, winning 9-3, with the bullpen giving 4.1 shutout innings, Carlos Santana hitting his 14th home run, and Roberto Perez becoming the first Indian to homer in his MLB debut since Kevin Kouzmanoff in 2006.
The Tribe hosted the White Sox to conclude their first half. Corey Kluber wasn't his best Friday night, but he limited the damage, and homers from David Murphy and Nick Swisher led Cleveland to a 7-4 win. Zach McAllister returned to the rotation after a DL stint and extended rehab in Triple-A kept him away for nearly two months. He did well, allowing 3 runs in 7 innings, but Brantley's 15th home run was just about the only offense, and the Indians fell 6-2. Trevor Bauer pitched 6.2 shutout innings and struck out 10 Sunday. Bryan Shaw blew the lead in the top of the 8th, but Yan Gomes hit a two-run homer in the bottom half and the Tribe won 3-2, getting back to .500 at the break.
Random Stat of the Week: Michael Brantley's 113 hits are the most by an Indians hitter in the first half since Kenny Lofton had 114 in 1996.
Chicago White Sox (3-4)
SB Nation Site: South Side Sox
The White Sox began their week with four games at Fenway. They won the opener 4-0, getting 6.2 shutout innings from Scott Carroll and home runs from Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo. Chicago won again on Tuesday, this time 8-3, with Jose Abreu and Conor Gillaspie both collecting 3 hits, including a pair for extra bases from each of them. Chris Sale gave up just 1 run in 7.2 innings Wednesday, but a pair of relievers turned that 4-1 lead into a 5-4 loss, wasting homers from Abreu and Gillaspie. In the finale, Gillaspie homered again, tying the game in the 9th, but Chicago went on to lose it in the 10th, settling for a split series.
The Pale Hose wrapped up their first half with a weekend in Cleveland. Three times in Friday's opener, Chicago took the lead, but they immediately lost it in each of those innings, and eventually fell 7-4. Carroll pitched 5 shutout innings Saturday before leaving with a stiff back. Abreu's 29th home run of the year gave the Sox an early lead, and the bullpen held on for a 6-2 win, evening the series. John Danks gave up only 1 run in 7 innings Sunday, and an 8th-inning rally put Chicago ahead 2-1, but Javy Guerra promptly gave those runs back, and the Sox lost 2-1, dropping them into a tie for last place at the break.
Random Stat of the Week: Chris Sale's 2.08 ERA is the lowest by a qualified White Sox starter in the first half since Britt Burns posted a 2.06 before the break in 1980.
Minnesota Twins (5-2)
SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town
The Twins were in Seattle for four games, but lost the first one 2-0 while striking out 14 times and managing only 4 base runners all night. Kevin Correia pitched pretty well, but took his 11th loss of the season. On Tuesday the Twins turned the tables, and won 2-0, getting 8 strikeouts in 7.1 shutout innings from Phil Hughes, along with a home run from Sam Fuld. Kyle Gibson tossed 6 shutout frames Wednesday, and the offense took advantage of 6 walks and 9 hits (including a pair of doubles by Brian Dozier) to win 8-1. The Twins won again Thursday, taking a lead early on and then holding off a number of potential rallies to take three of four on the road against one of the leagues better teams.
Next up were three games in Colorado. As they had in Seattle, the Twins lost the opener, with Eduardo Nunez driving in the team's only two runs with a pair of groundouts. Also as they had in Seattle, Minnesota recovered well. The won Saturday's contest 9-3, with Correia pitching well again, and this time getting the win. He even drove in a run with a double, his first hit in a year and a half with Minnesota. The offense kept things going Sunday, scoring 13 runs on 18 hits, including 3 by Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, and Eduardo Escobar. Dozier's including two home runs, giving him 18 for the first half, as Minnesota rolled into the break playing about as well as it has all season.
Random Stat of the Week: Phil Hughes is the first Twins pitcher 10+ wins and 100+ strikeouts at the All-Star break since Johan Santana in 2007.
Indians: Michael Bourn (OF) is on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain, he could return at the end of July; Jason Giambi (DH) was moved to 60-day DL with left knee inflammation, he could return in August; Justin Masterson (SP) was placed on the 15-day DL with right knee inflammation, he could return next week; Nyjer Morgan (OF) is on the 60-day DL with a sprained right knee, he could return next week
Royals: Alex Gordon (OF) has missed a few games with a sprained wrist, but is not expected to land on the DL;Jason Vargas (SP) was placed on the 15-day DL after needing an appendectomy, he could return next week
Tigers: Andy Dirks (OF) is on the DL recovering from back surgery, he could return next week; Joel Hanrahan (RP) is on the DL recovering from Tommy John surgery, he could join the team next week; Victor Martinez (DH) has not played for more than a week because of a sore back, but is expected back after the All-Star break; Luke Putkonen(RP) is on the 60-day DL with right elbow inflammation, he could return in late August
Twins: Joe Mauer is on the 15-day DL with a right oblique strain, a possible return date is TBD; Ricky Nolasco (SP) was placed on the 15-day DL with a right elbow strain, a possible return date is TBD; Mike Pelfrey (SP) is on the 60-day DL with an elbow injury, he could return in September; Danny Santana (SS) is on the 15-day DL with a bone bruise in his left knee, he is expected to return after the All-Star break
White Sox: Adam Eaton (OF) has missed a couple games with a sore right ankle, but he is not expected to go on the DL; Nate Jones (RP) is on the 60-day DL recovering from back surgery, he could return in late July; Matt Lindstromis on the 15-day DL with a left ankle tendon injury, he could return in August; Alexei Ramirez (SS) has missed a couple games with a sore back, but is not expected to go on the DL
Player Power Poll
(Each week this alternates between the division's top hitters and pitchers of the season)
5) Lonnie Chisenhall - .328/.392/.515, 156 wRC+ in 298 PA, 86 H, 20 2B, 9 HR, 39 R
4) Miguel Cabrera - .306/.364/.534, 142 wRC+ in 387 PA, 105 H, 34 2B, 14 HR, 75 RBI
3) Victor Martinez - .328/.391/.599, 165 wRC+ in 340 PA, 99 H, 19 2B, 21 HR, 55 RBI
2) Jose Abreu - .292/.342/.630, 159 wRC+ in 351 PA, 94 H, 20 2B, 29 HR, 73 RBI
1) Michael Brantley - .322/.382/.519, 154 wRC+ in 390 PA, 113 H, 22 2B, 15 HR, 10 SB
The Week Ahead
Indians: 4 @ Tigers
Royals: 3 @ Red Sox
Tigers: 4 vs. Indians
Twins: 3 vs. Rays
White Sox: 3 vs. Astros