AL Central standings (through Sunday, April 13):
It's no surprise that the division is so closely bunched together, given how little of the season has been played. That said, I gave a hard time believing anyone expected the White Sox to lead MLB in runs scored through the first two weeks of the season, but that's where we stand.
Here's a recap of each AL Central team's action from last week, with highlights, lowlights, injury updates, and more:
Detroit Tigers (2-3)
SB Nation site: Bless You Boys
The Tigers spent their week in California, beginning with a pair of games against the Dodgers. Max Scherzer pitched very well Tuesday, but couldn't pick up a win (which has to be an odd sensation for him, after last year). Detroit lost when Joba Chamberlain and Phil Coke conspired against them in the bottom of the 10th inning. Wednesday's game went to extras too. Nick Castellanos hit his first career home run in the 3rd, but Joe Nathan continued Detroit's bullpen troubles by allowing 3 runs in the 9th. Victor Martinez won it with a solo shot in the 10th though, giving Detroit a split. On Wednesday Nathan said he was pitching with a "dead arm," but he'll attempt to work through it.
The Tigers traveled down I-5 to San Diego for the weekend, but on Friday night they were completely dominated by Andrew Cashner, the Padres' young ace. A Rajai Davis single in the 6th was Detroit's only hit of the 6-0 loss. They rebounded for 6-2 win Saturday night, when the story was Justin Verlander, who not only pitched 7 strong innings (to improve his Interleague record to 22-2), he also collected the first two hits of his career. With Scherzer on the mound for Sunday's series finale, Detroit seemed poised for victory, but a bad 4th inning and another weak showing from the lineup sent them to defeat.
Injuries: Andy Dirks (OF) is out til at least June with a back injury; Jose Iglesias (SS) is out til at least August with fractured shins; Bruce Rondon (P) is out for the year due to Tommy John surgery
Chicago White Sox (4-3)
SB Nation site: South Side Sox
The White Sox traveled to Colorado to face the Rockies. They dropped the opener 8-1 as the offense floundered and Felipe Paulino gave up 6 runs before exiting in the 5th. Jose Quintana pitched far better on Tuesday and the lineup came to life in a big way, putting up 15 runs on 19 hits. Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu each homered twice in a 15-3 romp. Unfortunately for Chicago, Garcia tore the labrum in his left shoulder while attempting to make a diving catch Wednesday, and he will now miss the rest of the season. Adding insult to injury, the Sox lost the game 10-4, with Erik Johnson having a rough go of things.
The Pale Hose returned home to host the Indians for 4 games. Jose Abreu homered twice agains on Thursday and Alexei Ramirez added a blast as well, helping Chicago to a 7-3 win. The White Sox had lost 14 games in a row to the Indians, making Thursday's win something to celebrate. Chris Sale was on the hill Friday night, but he struggled with his command and left after only 5 innings. The offense had his back though, with Ramirez, Adam Eaton, Adam Dunn, and Conor Gillaspie each collecting 2 hits in a 9-6 win. Paulino struggled again Saturday and Chicago fell 12-6. Sunday's finale (which was delayed twice by rain) headed to the 9th with Chicago up a run. They blew the lead, but Ramirez hit a walk-off 2-run shot in the bottom half to give the Sox a 4-3 win.
Injuries: Gordon Beckham (2B) could return this week from a strained oblique; Avisail Garcia (OF) was placed on the DL with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, he is out for the year; Nate Jones (P) is on the DL with a lower back injury, no timetable for his return has been announced; Jeff Keppinger (INF) is on the DL while recovering from shoulder surgery, he could return in late Apri
Minnesota Twins (3-3)
SB Nation site: Twinkie Town
After spending the season's first week on the road, Minnesota held its home opener Monday, but Oakland ruined things by jumping all over Twins starter Kevin Correia, who allowed 6 runs in an 8-3 loss. After a day off the series resumed on Wednesday. Minnesota fell behind 4-0 in the 1st, but battled back to tie the game late, with Brian Dozier driving in two with a home run and a sacrifice fly. The Twinkies fell in the 11th though, when reliever Jared Burton gave up a long home run. The offense managed only 3 hits on Thursday, and Mike Pelfrey continued Minnesota's starting-pitching woes as they were swept.
The Twins were able to turn things around on the weekend though, starting with a 10-1 win over Kansas City. Kyle Gibson (a highly rated prospect since being a 1st-round pick in 2009) allowed only 1 run in 6.1 innings with Trevor Plouffe had 3 hits to pace the offense. Ricky Nolasco gave up just 1 run in 8 innings Saturday and the Twins took advantage of poor defense by the Royals, with Joe Mauer hitting a 3-run homer after the inning should have been over. Dozier also homered in 7-1 win. Minnesota trailed 3-2 in the 8th on Sunday, but took advantage of a throwing error to score two runs on a chopper back to the pitcher, and held on for a 4-3 win to sweep the series.
Injuries: Oswaldo Arcia (OF) was placed on the DL with a strained wrist, he could return next week; Jason Bartlett (SS) was placed on the DL with a left ankle sprain, he could return in late April; Josh Willingham (OF) was placed on the DL with a fractured left wrist, he could return in late April
Cleveland Indians (3-4)
SB Nation site: Let's Go Tribe
The Indians hosted San Diego to begin the week, but rain postponed Monday's game, which meant the Tribe would play its second doubleheader in as many weeks on Wednesday. First came Tuesday, when Corey Kluber's 8 strikeouts and David Murphy's first home run with the team propelled Cleveland to an 8-6 win. Zach McAllister was fantastic in the front end of Wednesday's twin bill, tossing 7.2 shutout innings with 7 Ks and 0 walks. A Jason Kipnis homer provided all the scoring in a 2-0 victory. Trevor Bauer was called up for the nightcap; he allowed only 2 runs (1 earned) in 6 innings, with 8 strikeouts, but the offense let him down and the Tribe could not complete the sweep.
Next was a trip to Chicago. Thursday night Danny Salazar posted one of the strangest pitching lines you'll ever see, striking out 10 before being pulled during the 4th inning, making him the first pitcher in MLB history to accomplish that feat. Cleveland lost 7-3. Friday's starter, Carlos Carrasco also failed to stick around long, as the Indians lost again. Justin Masterson went on Saturday, but couldn't find the plate, and was finished after only 4.2 innings (the first time he's gone back-to-back starts without completing at least 5 innings since April of 2010). Home runs by Murphy, Kipnis, and Nick Swisher kept the game tight though, and the bullpen allowed just one hit in 4.1 innings in a 12-6 win. Kluber pitched well Sunday (2 runs in 7.1 IP) and a 9th-inning rally put Cleveland ahead 3-2, but John Axford picked up his first blown save and the Indians lost 4-3.
Injuries: Michael Bourn (OF) is expected to return this week from a strained hamstring; Jason Giambi (DH) could return next week from a fractured rib
Kansas City Royals (2-4)
SB Nation site: Royals Review
KC hosted the Rays to begin their week, with Jason Vargas allowing only 1 run in 8 innings Monday, with a bases-clearing doubled by Alcides Escobar providing most of the scoring in a 4-2 win. Yordano Ventura cleared 100 MPH with his fastball multiple times on Tuesday, giving the Royals 6 shutout innings. Kansas City left 10 runners on base though, and closer Greg Holland allowed a run in the 9th, leaving KC with a 1-0 loss. The rubber match included another strong start for the Royals, this time by Jeremy Guthrie, and Alex Gordon's first home run of the year was the big blow in a 7-3 victory.
The Royals headed to Minnesota for the weekend, but they might as well have stayed home. Bruce Chen allowed 6 runs before being pulled in the 4th inning, and three relievers each allowed the scoring to continue in a 10-1 loss. The defense (which has been a real strength for Kansas City) failed them Saturday, as two errors in the 2nd inning allowed 6 unearned runs to score, helping to chase James Shields in the 6th of a 7-1 defeat. Vargas was sharp again Sunday giving up just 2 runs in 7 innings. KC led in the 8th, but reliever Wade Davis made a bad throw home on a comebacker with the bases loaded, allowing the tying and go ahead runs to score, and the Royals were swept.
Injuries: Tim Collins was placed on the DL with an elbow strain, he could be back near the end of April; Luke Hochevar (P) is out for the year due to Tommy John surgery
Player Power Poll
(Each week this alternates between the division's top hitters and pitchers of the season)
5) Jose Quintana (CWS) - 19.0 IP, 2.37 ERA, 182 ERA+, 3.72 FIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9
4) Max Scherzer (Det) - 20.0 IP, 2.70 ERA, 154 ERA+, 2.69 FIP, 11.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9
3) Justin Verlander (Det) - 21.0 IP, 2.57 ERA, 161 ERA+, 2.76 FIP, 5.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9
2) Jason Vargas (KC) - 22.0 IP, 1.64 ERA, 251 ERA+, 4.50 FIP, 4.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9
1) Chris Sale (CWS) - 20.1 IP, 2.66 ERA, 162 ERA+, 1.86 FIP, 8.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9
The Week Ahead
Indians: 3 @ Tigers, 3 vs. Blue Jays
Royals: 3 @ Astros, 3 vs. Twins
Tigers: 3 vs. Indians, 3 vs. Angels
Twins: 3 vs. Blue Jays, 3 @ Royals
White Sox: 3 vs. Red Sox, 3 @ Rangers