AL Central standings (through Sunday, July 27):
The Royals jumped back into second place and gained two games on first-place Detroit. The White Sox also kept themselves on the very edge of playoff contention (in the Wild Card race).
Detroit Tigers (3-4)
SB Nation Site: Bless You Boys
The Tigers were out west for the week, beginning in Arizona. Justin Verlander gave up 3 runs and 6.2 innings Monday, while Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson each homered in a 4-3 win. On Tuesday Rick Porcello pitched well and Detroit took the lead on a 2-run single by Hunter in the 8th, but Phil Coke gave the lead right back, leaving the team with a 5-4 loss. The offense exploded in the series finale, led by 3 hits from Rajai Davis and capped by a 3-run homer from Miguel Cabrera (his 15th of the season) as the Tigers won 11-5.
The next stop on the trip was Anaheim. Max Scherzer struck out 11 in the opener, a 6-4 Detroit win, but the series went downhill for the Tigers from there. Drew Smyly struck out a career-high 11 on Friday, but another home run by Cabrera provided Detroit's only scoring in a 2-1 loss. Verlander made his second quality start of the week on Saturday, but Detroit couldn't get a base runner any farther than first base after the 1st inning, and lost 4-0. An RBI-double by Victor Martinez put the Tigers ahead in the 1st on Sunday, but that was it. Porcello allowed only 1 run in 7 innings, but Detroit lost 2-1 after putting only one man on base in the final 8 innings and watching Joba Chamberlain give up a late home run.
Kansas City Royals (5-2)
SB Nation Site: Royals Review
The Royals traveled to Chicago's South Side to begin their week. Alex Gordon had 2 hits on Monday, but the offense otherwise struggled to get much going in the opener, and KC lost 3-1. The bats bounced back the next night, led by a pair of home runs from Mike Moustakas. Bruce Chen did well for 5 innings and the bullpen pitched 4 shutout frames to help the cause, and the Royals won 7-1. James Shields then delivered 7 strong innings on Wednesday, and the Royals pulled out a 2-1 win to take the series.
It was back home to host the Indians for 4 games next. Greg Holland blew a save for just the second time all year on Thursday, which meant Danny Duffy didn't get the win after pitching 7 shutout innings, but a Nori Aoki single won the game in the 14th for Kansas City. Salvador Perez had 3 hits on Friday, and Billy Butler hit a 2-run homer in the the 8th to give the Royals a 6-4 win. Butler homered again on Saturday, as KC came back from an early 5-0 deficit to win 7-5. The Royals then took an early lead on Sunday, looking for a massive sweep, but Chen was hit hard and they lost 10-3. Butler had 3 hits on the afternoon, wrapping up his best series of the season.
Cleveland Indians (2-5)
SB Nation Site: Let's Go Tribe
The Indians were in Minnesota at the start of the week. They came back from an early deficit to tie the game in the 8th, but then gave the run back and lost 4-3. Danny Salazar made his first MLB start in two months on Tuesday. He lasted only 5 innings, but allowed just 1 run. Carlos Santana led the Tribe offense with 4 hits, including a home run and a pair of doubles. On Wednesday the bats went quiet, and while Trevor Bauer pitched a decent game, he would have had to toss a shutout if he was going to pick up a win. The Indians lost 4-3.
The final stop on Cleveland's 11-game road trip was Kansas City. Corey Kluber took a perfect game into the 7th inning, and a shutout into the 8th, but then Ryan Raburn made just about the worst play you'll ever see, allowing an unearned run to score. The Tribe rallied to send the game to extras, but lost in the 14th. Carlos Santana hit a pair of home runs Friday, but the rest of the team did little to help, and the Indians lost 6-4, dropping them back below .500. Santana homered again on Saturday, and doubled, helping the Tribe to a 5-0 lead, but they squandered that and lost again. Salazat struck out 7 in 7 innings Sunday, and the Indians avoided being swept as the offense finally found its way in a 10-3 win highlighted by two more homers by Santana, who had a whopping 5 of them for the series.
Chicago White Sox (4-3)
SB Nation Site: South Side Sox
The White Sox hosted Kansas City during the week. Chris Sale struck out 7 in 7 innings on Monday, as Chicago won 3-1. Scott Carroll wasn't nearly as sharp on Tuesday, giving up 5 runs on 11 hits in 5 innings. Adam Dunn hit his 15th home run of the season, but there was little other offense to speak of in a 7-1 defeat. Jose Quintana pitched a good game in Wednesday's series finale, but the offense was a no-show again, and a 9th inning error by Tyler Flowers helped the game-losing run to score.
It was then off to Minnesota for 4 games. Hector Noesi gave up just 2 runs in 7.2 innings on Thursday, leading Chicago to a 5-2 win that also included 3 hits by Adam Eaton. Jose Abreu hit his 30th home run of the season in the 1st inning on Friday, and the Pale Hose never looked back, coasting to a 9-5 victory. Chris Sale continued his fantastic season by striking out 12 in 8 shutout innings on Saturday, lowering his ERA to 1.88. An Alexei Ramirez home run and 3 hits by Conor Gillaspie led the offense in a 7-0 win. Carroll pitched a much better game than his previous appearance, but the bullpen blew a late lead and Chicago lost 4-3, leaving them just short of the sweep.
Minnesota Twins (3-4)
SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town
The Twins hosted Cleveland for three games and won the opener 4-3 after Josh Willingham hit an 8th-inning home run, his 9th of the year. Brian Dozier had 3 hits in Tuesday's game, but it was otherwise a poor effort for the team, and Minnesota lost 8-2. The offense wasn't that much better in Wednesday's rubber match, though Oswaldo Arcia homered, but 5 quality innings from Anthony Swarzak in his first start since 2012 and 4 shutout innings from the bullpen gave the Twins a 4-3 win.
Next into town were the White Sox. Minnesota managed only 3 hits in the opener, and Phil Hughes exited early after taking a comebacker off his shin, as the Twins lost 5-2. Arcia and Willingham each homered on Friday, but Kevin Correia was a mess on the mound, and Minnesota lost 9-5. Logan Darnell was rocked for 7 runs on Saturday, but even 1 would have been too many, as the offense was blanked in a 7-0 loss. The Twins avoided the embarrassment of being swept at home by pulling out a 4-3 win in the series finale, with an RBI triple by Danny Santana and a late 2-run single by Sam Fuld highlighting the proceedings.
Indians: Michael Bourn (OF) is on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain, he could return next week; Lonnie Chisenhall (3B) missed the last couple days with an illness, but should be back Tuesday; Jason Giambi (DH) is on the 60-day DL with left knee inflammation, he could probably be back whenever, but the team has better options; Justin Masterson (SP) was placed on the 15-day DL with right knee inflammation, he is expected back on Friday; Nyjer Morgan (OF) is on the 60-day DL with a sprained right knee, he could return next week
Royals: Eric Hosmer (1B) has not started any of the last four games, due to a bruised hand, but he should be back in the lineup in the next couple days; Jason Vargas (SP) is 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) is on the 60-day DL as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery, hos return this season is in doubt; Patrick McCoy (RP) is on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain, he could return this week; 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, he could return this weekend; 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; Zach Putnam (RP) was placed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation, he could return next week
Player Power Poll
(Each week this alternates between the division's top hitters and pitchers of the season)
5) Carlos Santana (CLE) - .232/.371/.456, 138 wRC+ in 415 PA, 20 HR, 72 BB, 50 RBI
4) Miguel Cabrera (DET) - .309/.364/.531, 143 wRC+ in 434 PA, 16 HR, 36 2B, 81 RBI
3) Victor Martinez (DET) - .320/.383/.566, 154 wRC+ in 383 PA, 21 HR, 21 2B, 57 RBI
2) Michael Brantley (CLE) - .318/.376/.505, 149 wRC+ in 439 PA, 126 H, 27 2B, 65 RBI
1) Jose Abreu (CWS) - .294/.344/.619, 159 wRC+ in 393 PA, 30 HR, 25 2B, 79 RBI
The Week Ahead
Indians: 3 vs, Mariners, 3 vs. Rangers
Royals: 3 vs. Twins, 3 @ Athletics
Tigers: 3 vs. White Sox, 3 vs. Rockies
Twins: 3 @ Royals, 3 @ White Sox
White Sox: 3 @ Tigers, 3 vs. Twins