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Corey Kluber and Jason Kipnis help Indians gain on Tigers in AL Central

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A look the action around the division during the final week of the season's first half, with highlights, lowlights, injuries, schedules, and more...

Duane Burleson


AL Central standings (through Sunday, July 20):

Team W L GB RS RA DIFF
Tigers 54 41 - 449 408 +41
Indians 50 48 5.5 438 437 +1
Royals 48 49 7 388 392 -4
White Sox 47 52 9 425 450 -25
Twins 44 53 11 408 434 -26

The Indians jumped back into second place and got as close to first as they've been in a while. Meanwhile, Kansas City looked lost.

Detroit Tigers (1-3)

SB Nation Site: Bless You Boys

Miguel Cabrera hit the only home run of the All-Star Game, off NL starter Adam Wainwright. Max Scherzer pitched a shutout inning in the game, while Ian Kinsler struck out in his only at bat.

The Tigers hosted Cleveland for four games over the weekend. Anibal Sanchez rolled through six shutout innings Friday, but then got pulled without recording an out in the 7th, and was charged with 4 of 7 runs Detroit gave up that frame in a 9-3 loss. Saturday was a doubleheader. In the day game the offense was stymied again, and after rookie Drew VerHagen started with 4 shutout innings, he ran into trouble in the 5th, and the Tigers went on to lose 6-2. In the second game Max Scherzer struggled from the start and his arm appeared (to me) to be bothering him. He only allowed 2 runs, but labored all game, throwing a ton of pitches and allowing a lot of base runners. He couldn't finish the 6th inning and Joe Nathan gave up another 3 runs in the 9th, leaving Detroit with a 5-2 defeat. Drew Smyly pitched 7 good innings Sunday and Torii Hunter hit a homer to lead the offense as the Tigers grabbed a 5-1 win to avoid the sweep.

Random Stat of the Week: Victor Martinez has a strikeout rate of only 7.6%, best in the American League.

Cleveland Indians (3-1)

SB Nation Site: Let's Go Tribe

Michael Brantley was robbed of a single by Dee Gordon in the All-Star Game, who made a diving stop of a well-struck ball. Brantley made a catch in left field too, and that was the extent of the ASG action for the Indians.

The Indians were in Detroit to kick off the second half of the season. On Friday Trevor Bauer turned in a solid start, allowing 3 runs in 6 innings while striking out 5. The offense was quiet for six innings, and then exploded for 7 runs in the 7th. Jason Kipnis hit two home runs to lead the Tribe to a 9-3 win. Should -have-been-an-All-STar Corey Kluber picked up where he left off in the first of two games on Saturday, striking out 10 while allowing just 2 runs in 8.2 innings in a 6-2 victory. Yan Gomes had 3 hits and scored 3 runs, while Kipnis had a pair of RBI singles. In the nightcap of the doubleheader, recent acquisition Chris Dickerson hit two solo home runs, and with the game tied in the 9th, Carlos Santana hit a bases-clearing double and the Indians won 5-2. Cleveland couldn't get the brooms out on Sunday, as Josh Tomlin struggled through 4.1 innings and the offense went cold, leading to a 5-1 loss.

Random Stat of the Week: Lonnie Chisenhall is tied with Mike Trout for the league's highest BABIP, at .367, while Carlos Santana has the league's lowest figure, at .233.

Kansas City Royals (0-3)

SB Nation Site: Royals Review

Salvador Perez went 0 for 1 in the All-Star Game, and was the only starter not given a second plate appearance. and was unable to throw out Andrew McCutchen on a stolen base attempt.

The Royals traveled to Boston to start off the second half. Omar Infante and Eric Hosmer each had 3 hits Friday, and Kansas City jumped out to a 4-1 lead through five innings, but James Shields and Scott Downs were touched up for 4 runs in the 6th and the Royals lost 5-4. Danny Duffy gave up only 2 runs (1 earned) in 6.2 innings Saturday, but the offense managed almost nothing all night, and KC lost 2-1, dropping them into 3rd place in the division. The offense was even worse on Sunday, with only 4 hits in the game. Yordano Ventura was knocked around for all of the damage in a 6-0 loss. The Royals have a losing record for the first time in six weeks. it's getting to be do-or-die time in Kansas City.

Random Stat of the Week: Kansas City hitters have the fewest strikeouts (572), walks (231), and home runs (55) in the American League. Not a fan of the three true outcomes.

Chicago White Sox (2-1)

SB Nation Site: South Side Sox

Alexei Ramirez singled and scored a run in the All-Star Game, while Jose Abreu went 0 for 1. Chris Sale pitched an inning, hitting Chase Utley with a pitch (not something you see every ASG) and then giving up an RBI double.

The White Sox hosted Houston for the weekend. Chicago won 3-2 on Friday, getting 4 shutout innings from the bullpen, a two-run homer from Dayan Viciedo, and an RBI doubled from Tyler Flowers that provided the go-ahead run in the 7th. Flowers and Adam Eaton each had 3 hits Saturday, and the bullpen provided another 3 scoreless frames in a 4-3 win. The Sox were unable to complete the sweep though, because John Danks gave up 7 runs on 12 hits in 4.1 innings Sunday, and after the offense rallied to tie the game in the 6th, reliever Daniel Webb ruined the pen's perfect weekend by giving up 4 runs in the 7th, putting the score at 11-7, which is where it would end.

Random Stat of the Week: White Sox relievers have walked 4.67 batters per 9 innings. That's not only the highest rate in the American League, it's the highest in the league by any team since 2010.

Minnesota Twins (0-3)

SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town

For eight innings the All-Star Game's host team didn't have anyone see any action, but in the 9th inning closer Glen Perkins and catcher Kurt Suzuki both came on and worked a 1-2-3 inning to nail down the save.

The Twins began the second half by hosting Tampa Bay. Kyle Gibson gave up 6 runs in Friday's opener, while a Trevor Plouffe home run provided Minnesota's only scoring in a 6-2 loss. On Saturday it was a 9th-inning single by Kurt Suzuki that brought in the Twins' only run; they managed only 5 hits all game, while Phil Hughes gave up 5 runs in a 5-1 defeat. Kendrys Morales had a pair of hits Sunday, and the final score was closer than it had been in either of the first two games, but Minnesota lost again, this time 5-3, dropping them 9 games below .500 and 11 games out of first. If they hadn't already, it's time for the Twins to forget about 2014 and get back to planning for the future.

Random Stat of the Week: Twins pitchers have a lot in common with Royals hitters, they have the lowest strikeout rate (6.12 K/9), lowest walk rate (2.54 BB/9), and lowest home run rate (0.81 HR/9) in the American League.

Injuries

Indians: Michael Bourn (OF) is on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain, he could return next week; Jason Giambi (DH) is on the 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: Salvador Perez (C) was out on Sunday with a groin strain, but is expected back Monday or Tuesday; 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 in August; Joel Hanrahan (RP) was moved to the 60-day DL as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery, he could return in August; Luke Putkonen (RP) is on the 60-day DL with right elbow inflammation, he could return in August

Twins: Joe Mauer (1B) is on the 15-day DL with a right oblique strain, a possible return date is TBD; Ricky Nolasco (SP) is 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

White Sox: Nate Jones (RP) is on the 60-day DL recovering from back surgery, he could return in August; Matt Lindstrom is on the 15-day DL with a left ankle tendon injury, he could return in August

Player Power Poll

(Each week this alternates between the division's top hitters and pitchers of the season)

Pitchers

5) Anibal Sanchez (DET) - 100.2 IP, 3.22 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 127 ERA+, 6.9 K/9, 2.3 BB/9

4) Jose Quintana (CHI) - 124.1 IP, 3.26 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 123 ERA+, 8.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9

3) Max Scherzer (DET) - 132.0 IP, 3.34 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 123 ERA+, 10.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9

2) Chris Sale (CHI) - 95.0 IP, 2.08 ERA, 2,48 FIP, 193 ERA+, 9.7 K/9, 1.5 BB/9

1) Corey Kluber (CLE) - 140.1 IP, 2.95 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 128 ERA+, 9.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9

The Week Ahead

Indians: 3 @ Twins, 4 @ Royals

Royals: 3 @ White Sox, 4 vs. Royals

Tigers: 3 @ Diamondbacks, 4 @ Angels

Twins: 3 vs. Indians, 4 vs. White Sox

White Sox: 3 vs. Royals, 4 @ Twins