AL Central standings (through Sunday, April 13):
Chicago and Minnesota are #1 and #2 in the American League in runs scored, while Detroit is #13. Just as we all expected.
Here's a recap of each AL Central team's action from last week, with highlights, lowlights, injury updates, and more:
Detroit Tigers (3-2)
SB Nation site: Bless You Boys
The Tigers hosted Cleveland to begin the week, but Tuesday's game was postponed due to below-freezing temperatures and snow. Anibal Sanchez made it through only 5 innings Wednesday, but the real problem was Detroit's offense, which managed only a pair of runs in a 3-2 loss. The offense was better on Thursday, when Ian Kinsler homered and Miguel Cabrera hit his fourth double of the season. Justin Verlander walked 4 and lasted only 5 innings, but that was enough in a 7-5 victory.
The homestand continued with the Angels visiting for the weekend. Drew Smyly made it through just 3 innings Friday and Detroit went on to lose 11-6, with Kinsler's 3 hits the only real bright spot on the night. The Tigers bounced back for a 5-2 win Saturday, led by 9 strikeouts in 7 innings by Max Scherzer and home runs from Nick Castellanos and Victor Martinez. Sunday's rubber match was a pitchers' duel, but Detroit's Rick Porcello got the best of it, allowing only 1 run over 7 innings. Joe Nathan picked up his third save in a 2-1 win that kept Detroit alone in 1st place.
The Tigers also released shortstop Alex Gonzalez, whose OPS was .452. He'll be replaced by Danny Worth. Not familiar with Worth? Learn what you need to know here.
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
Kansas City Royals (5-1)
SB Nation site: Royals Review
The Royals began their week is Houston, which is a good place for a team to get itself turned around. Omar Infante hit his first home run as a Royal, while rookie starter Yordano Ventura picked up the first win of his MLB career. Wednesday's game took 11 innings, but ended as another win for KC, as Danny Valencia and Mike Moustakas each homered. On Thursday the Royals finished off the sweep on the strength of 12 strikeouts from James Shields, who allowed only 1 run in 8 innings.
Then it was back home to host Minnesota for the weekend. Jason Vargas continued his great start to the season by delivering 7 shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 1.24 in four starts, each of which has gone 7 or more innings. Thewin moved KC into a tie for 1st place. Bruce Chen wasn't so sharp Sunday, but Alex Gordon had 3 hits, the bullpen pitched 4 shutout innings, and the Royals won 5-4, their fifth straight win. Kansas City couldn't finish off a perfect week, as Ventura allowed 4 runs in just 4 innings, and the bullpen allowed 4 more in an 8-3 loss.
Injuries: Lorenzo Cain was placed on the 15-day DL with a left groin strain, he could be back in early May; Tim Collins is out with an elbow strain, he could return in late April; Luke Hochevar (P) is out for the year due to Tommy John surgery
Minnesota Twins (3-3)
SB Nation site: Twinkie Town
The Twins were at home to face Toronto to start their week. Chris Colabello had 3 hits Tuesday, but Phil Hughes struggled for the third straight time and Minnesota fell 9-3. Winter weather postponed Wednesday's game, which was rescheduled for Thursday, creating a double header. Kyle Gibson pitched 8 shutout innings for the Twins in the day's first game, while Colabello and Joe Mauer each had a pair of hits in a 7-0 victory. Colabello's hot series continued with 3 more hits in the night cap, while Brian Dozier hit his fifth home run of the season as the Twins won 9-5 to take the series.
Next up was a trip to Kansas City. Ricky Nolasco continued to not earn his shiny new contract, giving up 5 runs on 11 hits Friday. The Twins didn't manage much offense of their own, and lost 5-0. Minnesota got another mediocre start on Saturday, this time by Kevin Correia. Colabello and Kurt Suzuki each had 2 hits, but they weren't enough to prevent a 5-4 loss. Hughes allowed 9 hits over 6 innings in Sunday's finale, but limited the scoring to 3 runs. Dozier and Trevor Plouffe each had 3 hits, and rookie Josmil Pinto hit his fourth home run in the 8-3 win.
Injuries: Oswaldo Arcia (OF) is out with a strained wrist, he could return next week; Jason Bartlett (SS) is out with a left ankle sprain, he could return in late April; Josh Willingham (OF) is out with a fractured left wrist, he could return in late April
Chicago White Sox (2-4)
SB Nation site: South Side Sox
The White Sox hosted Boston during the week. Rookie Erik Johnson tossed 6.2 very good innings Tuesday, striking out 9 while allowing only one run. The game was tied in the bottom of the 9th until a throwing error by Boston allowed Chicago to grab a 2-1 win. Wednesday's game went 14 innings, at which point the White Sox were compelled to put position player Leury Garcia into the game as a pitcher; he gave up a pair of runs and Chicago lost 6-4. Chris Sale gave the Pale Hose an excellent chance to take the series on Thursday, with 10 strikeouts and only 1 run allowed in 7 innings, but the offense and reliever Ronald Belisario were no help in a 3-1 loss. Sale threw 127 pitches, the most by any AL pitcher so far this season.
The Sox traveled to Texas next. Felipe Paulino was rocked for 10 runs on 13 hits Friday, before finally being pulled in the 4th inning of a 12-0 rout, having thrown 103 pitches. Paulino landed on the DL with a strained rotator cuff and I fault manager Robin Ventura for having left his pitcher in for so long on a night he clearly didn't have it. Saturday's game was closer, but another loss for the White Sox, and Adam Eaton left early with a sore hamstring. The lineup tried to its best to make up for a slow week by pouring on 16 runs Sunday, the most by the White Sox since 2012. Jordan Danks, Jose Abreu, and Dayan Viciedo each homered, while Marcus Simien had 4 hits in the romp.
Injuries: Gordon Beckham (2B) could return this week from a strained oblique; Adam Eaton is out with a sore left hamstring, he is expected back in a day or two; Avisail Garcia (OF) is out for the year with a torn labrum in his left shoulder; Nate Jones (P) is out with a lower back injury, no timetable for his return has been announced; Jeff Keppinger (INF) is out while recovering from shoulder surgery, he could return in late April; Felipe Paulino was placed on the 15-day DL with right rotator cuff soreness, no timetable for his return has been announced
Cleveland Indians (2-3)
SB Nation site: Let's Go Tribe
The Indians week got off to a delayed start when Tuesday's scheduled game in Detroit was postponed by weather. On Wednesday Zach McAllister made his second strong start in a row, allowing just 1 run in 6 innings. A triple by Yan Gomes drove in a pair of runs in a 3-2 win. Danny Salazar looked great through 3 innings on Thursday, but as they did in his first two starts of the season, the wheels came off and he didn't survive the 5th. Cleveland lost 7-5. Salazar has incredible stuff, but he's got a 7.71 ERA, andI wonder if the team is considering sending him to Triple-A for a few weeks.
The Tribe returned home to host Toronto. Justin Masterson rebounded from a couple bad starts to strike out 9 in 6.1 innings Friday, the the offense left 12 men on a base in a 3-2 loss, wasting Carlos Santana's first home run of the season and 3 hits by Jason Kipnis. Things got worse Saturday, as the Indians mustered only 4 hits and didn't score a single run, losing 5-0. On Sunday it looked like things were headed for a sweep, as despite a home run and a double from Michael Brantley, the Tribe trailed 4-2 in the 6th. David Murphy cleared the bases with a double though, andJohn Axford picked up his sixth save (after loading the bases), giving the Indians a much-needed win.
Injuries: Jason Giambi (DH) will return today from a fractured rib
Player Power Poll
(Each week this alternates between the division's top hitters and pitchers of the season)
1) Alexei Ramirez (CWS) - .360/.400/.587, 178 wRC+, 27 H, 4 HR, 15 R
2) Chris Colabello (MIN) - .353/.397/.529, 165 wRC+, 24 H, 9 2B, 20 RBI
3) Trevor Plouffe (MIN) - .313/.420/.493, 161 wRC+, 21 H, 7 2B, 14 R
4) Josmil Pinto (MIN) - .233/.411/.535, 171 wRC+, 13 BB, 4 HR, 8 R
5) Michael Brantley (CLE) - .284/.368/.478, 146 wRC+, 19 H. 3 HR, 16 RBI
Top scientists are working 'round the clock to determine how that list came together.
The Week Ahead
Indians: 4 vs. Royals, 3 @ Giants
Royals: 4 @ Indians, 3 @ Orioles
Tigers: 4 vs. White Sox, 3 @ Twins
Twins: 3 @ Rays, 3 vs. Tigers
White Sox: 4 @ Tigers, 4 vs. Rays (finishing next Monday)