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MLB news: AL Central week in review (April 22-28)

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Last week's action around the division, with the good, the bad, and the ugly, from the Tribe and their rivals.

Ed Zurga

A.L. Central standings through Sunday, April 28:

Kansas City 13 9 - 96 79 +17
Detroit 13 10 .5 115 94 +21
Minnesota 11 10 1.5 88 89 -1
Chicago 10 14 4 83 96 -13
Cleveland 9 13 4 97 107 -10

All five teams remain bunched together (closer than any other division), both by wins and losses and by run differential, no one one has been able to really take advantage of the rest of the Central stumbling. Here's a look at each teams' results from last week:

Kansas City Royals (3-2)

The opener of the Royals' series in Detroit was postponed, to be made up later in the year. Wade Davis couldn't get of the 4th inning on Wednesday, hindered in part by a Mike Moustakas error, which led to the first of 4 unearned runs that frame. K.C. bounced back on Thursday, though they waited til late. In the 10th Alex Gordon hit a massive grand slam to deep center field to break the game wide open and get the Royals a win. The Indians came to town for the weekend, after rain Friday, K.C. got 7 shutout innings from Ervin Santana on Saturday and secured a win. They took the front-end of Sunday's doubleheader 9-0, including home runs by Alcides Escobar and Gordon. The nightcap didn't go as well, as the Royals were beaten 10-3.

Kansas City's bullpen is leading the league with a K-rate of 11.09 strikeouts per 9 innings.

Player of the Week: Alcides Escobar (.381/.458/.619, 1.077 OPS, 8 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 SB, 4 R)

Player of the Weak: Lorenzo Cain (.143/.176/.214, .391 OPS, just 2 hits)

Detroit Tigers (4-1)

The Tigers were at home to face the Royals during the week, but Tuesday's contest was postponed, turning it into a two-game set. Max Scherzer wasn't his best on Wednesday, but Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, and Victor Martinez all had two hits and led the Tigers to a win. Justin Verlander pitched very well Thursday, but Bruce Rondon blew the lead in the 8th and Phil Coke took the loss in the 10th, costing Detroit the opportunity to move into 1st place. The Tigers faced Atlanta over the weekend, and the Ks came in bunches. Anibal Sanchez set a franchise record with 17 strikeouts Friday night, Detroit's pitchers recorded a whopping 39 whiffs for the series and the Tigers scored 25 runs for good measure, earning a convincing sweep of the Braves.

Detroit's pitching staff has a combined ERA of 3.71, 5th in the AL. Their FIP is a sparkling 2.69, easily the best in the league, but they have allowed a BABIP of .323, making them the unluckiest in the league. It's not a good sign for the rest of the division, because that luck is likely to even out over time.

Player of the Week: Anibal Sanchez (1 start, 8 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, franchise record 17 K)

Player of the Weak: Phil Coke (1 appearance, 1.1 IP, 4 ER, 1 H, 4 BB, 27.00 ERA, 3.75 WHIP)

Minnesota Twins (3-3)

The Twins hosted the Marlins for two games, and after Monday's game was postponed, they played a doubleheader Tuesday instead. Minnesota took the front end behind a good start by Kevin Correia and the first career home run for Oswaldo Arcia, one of their top prospects. The Twinkies dropped the second game when Mike Pelfrey was shelled, then had a day off before the Rangers came to town for 4 games. Minnesota dropped a pair of one-run games to begin the series, but took Saturday's contest and then won again on Sunday, with Correia shutting out Texas' potent lineup for 8 innings as the Twins managed a split.

Minnesota's bullpen has a league leading ERA of 2.49 and a league leading FIP of 2.98.

Player of the Week: Kevin Correia (2 starts, 15 IP, 2 ER, 11 H, 2 BB, 7 K, 1.20 ERA, 0.87 WHIP)

Player of the Weak: Chris Parmelee (.158/.150/.158, .308 OPS, a rare better BA than OBP performance)

Chicago White Sox (3-3)

Chicago hosted the Tribe and was in position to win Monday's opener, leading 2-1 in the 8th, but Matt Thornton couldn't hold onto it and the Sox fell. Tuesday's game was postponed due to crap weather. On Wednesday the Sox got 4 innings of shutout relief and Alex Rios' 6th home run of 2013 helped them eek out a victory. Tampa was next into town. On Thursday, Adam Dunn's 4th home run of the year pushed his average above .100 and the Sox won. They took Friday's contest too, getting home runs from Hector Gimenez, Tyler Greene, Conor Gillaspie, and Kragan Vincent, only one of whom I made up. Chicago uncharacteristically allowed 18 runs between Saturday and Sunday's games, turning their advantage into only a series split.

Starting pitcher Gavin Floyd has been placed on the 15-day DL with a sore elbow, the third significant White Sox player there (Gordon Beckham, Dayan Viciedo). The Sox are also scoring the fewest runs in the league.

Player of the Week: Conor Gillaspie (.333/.435/.667, 1.101 OPS, 6 H, 4 BB, 2 HR, 4 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Tyler Flowers (.000/.000/.000, 0.000 OPS, an 0 for 14 week, with 6 strikeouts. He might not be the "catcher of the future" after all)

Cleveland Indians (2-3)

The Indians were in Chicago at the start of the week and Justin Masterson continued his strong April by allowing just 2 runs in 7 innings. A late hit by Asdrubal Cabrera scored two runs, putting the Tribe ahead and Chris Perez closed out the victory. Tuesday's game (the one I had tickets to!) was postponed and no one remembered to tell the Cleveland offense to return on Wednesday, leading to a frustrating 3-2 loss. The road trip continued in Kansas City, but rain struck again, postponing Friday's contest, leading to a Sunday doubleheader. First was Saturday's game though. This time the Indians got runners on, but couldn't get them in, losing 3-2 again. They were crushed 9-0 in Sunday's first game, but bounced back to win 10-3 in the evening, with 4 hits from Carlos Santana.

The Tribe BABIP has climbed to league average, so it's hard to cry "bad luck" at this point, they just aren't hitting consistently enough.

Player of the Week: Asdrubal Cabrera (.412/.412/.588, 1.000 OPS, 7 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SB, finally a good week!)

Player of the Weak: Drew Stubbs (.118/.158/.118, .276 OPS, 2 singles, 1 BB, 5 K)

2013 Player Power Poll

1) Anibal Sanchez (Tigers): 3-1, 33.2 IP, 41 K, 9 BB, 1.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP

2) Carlos Santana (Indians): .388/.453/.687, 1.140 OPS, 8 2B, 4 HR, 12 R, 10 RBI

3) Ervin Santana (Royals): 3-1 36.0 IP, 31 K, 5 BB, 2.00 ERA, 1.03 WHIP

4) Miguel Cabrera (Tigers): .375/.440/.552, 992 OPS, 6 2B, 3 HR, 18 R, 26 RBI

5) Prince Fielder (Tigers): .294/.421/.541, .962 OPS, 6 2B, 5 HR, 13 R, 22 RBI

The Week Ahead

Indians: 1 @ Royals, 2 vs. Phillies, 3 vs. Twins

Royals: 1 vs. Indians, 3 vs. Rays, 3 vs. White Sox

Tigers: 3 vs. Twins, 4 @ Astros

Twins: 3 @ Tigers, 3 @ Indians

White Sox: 3 @ Rangers, 3 @ Royals

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