AL Central standings (through Sunday, August 3):
It was a good week for the top three teams in the division, but only one of them added a Cy Young winner to the mix.
Detroit Tigers (4-2)
SB Nation Site: Bless You Boys
The Tigers hosted the White Sox and were smoked 11-4 in the opener, as Anibal Sanchez was mediocre as the starter and new acquisition Joakim Soria was a disaster in relief, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits while recording only 1 out. Max Scherzer pitched a much better game Wednesday, allowing only 1 run in 7 innings, while Nick Castellanos' 7th home run highlighted a 6-run 1st inning that Detroit never looked back from. Drew Smyly gave up 4 runs on 11 hits Thursday, in his final start for the Tigers. The game was still tied in the 7th, when Soria made a throwing error to help load the bases before hitting a batter to put Detroit back behind in an eventual defeat.
The Rockies were next into town, and that was good news for Detroit. Justin Verlander gave up only 2 runs in 8 innings Friday, and Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler each had a pair of hits in a 4-2 win. On Saturday Rick Porcello matched Verlander's 2 runs in 8 innings, and topped him by striking out 10. Meanwhile, David and Kinsler each had 3 hits this time, as did Alex Avila, and Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez all homered in an 11-5 romp. Sanchez rebounded from his rough start earlier in the week to strike out 12 in 7 shutout innings Sunday, and Victor's 23rd home run of the year led the offense in a 4-0 win, giving the Tigers a sweep.
Kansas City Royals (4-2)
SB Nation Site: Royals Review
The Royals hosted Minnesota during the week. James Shields issued 4 walks in 6 innings in the opener, but limited the damage to 2 runs. Unfortunately for KC, their offense was a no-show, and they lost 2-1. Danny Duffy topped Shields by walking 6 in 5.2 innings, and allowing 4 hits, but somehow giving up just 1 run. Alex Gordon had 3 hits, including a pair of doubles, to lead the charge in a 3-2 victory. The Royals fell behind early in the series finale, but tied it in the 5th, then went ahead on a triple by Alcides Escobar in the 7th, and held on for the win.
It was off to Oakland for the weekend. Jeremy Guthrie pitched 6 shutout frames on Friday, Raul Ibanez hit a solo shot in the 5th, and the KC bullpen got the final nine outs, giving the Royals a 1-0 win. It was a different story on Saturday, as Jason Vargas gave up 7 runs in the 5th inning and Kansas City fell 8-3. In the series finale Omar Infante and Billy Butler each had 3 hits, and James Shields worked 8 innings while allowing only 2 runs. Greg Holland picked up his AL-leading 31st save of the season in the 4-2 victory.
Cleveland Indians (4-2)
SB Nation Site: Let's Go Tribe
The Indians hosted Seattle and lost 5-2 Tuesday, as Trevor Bauer was hit hard while lasting just 4.1 innings, and the offense had little to show for itself. The Tribe bats weren't much livelier Wednesday; a Yan Gomes double knocked in the only 2 runs they scored all night, but those were more than enough, because Corey Kluber was dominant, pitching only the 7th Maddux in franchise history. At 85 pitches, it was MLB's most efficient shutout since June of 2012, and he threw only 16 balls all night. Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana each drove in a pair of runs in Thursday's rubber match, and Cleveland led heading into the 8th, but Bryan Shaw blew that lead and they lost 6-5.
Next up was a weekend set at home against Texas. David Murphy had 4 hits against his former team Friday night, and Michael Brantley added 3. All nine starters had at least one hit and run scored in a 12-2 romp for the Tribe. Runs were much harder to come by on Saturday, as Cleveland scored only two, but T.J. House and four relievers combined on a shutout, and the Indians won again. They were down 3-1 in the 9th on Sunday, but Murphy tied the game with a home run, and in the 12th inning Michael Brantley won it with another long ball, giving the Indians their first sweep in two months, and pushing them back above .500.
Chicago White Sox (3-3)
SB Nation Site: South Side Sox
The White Sox traveled to Detroit and slugged their way to an 11-4 win on Tuesday, highlighted by Jose Abreu's 31st home run of the year, one of 3 hits he had on the night. Adam Dunn also homered, while Jose Quintana picked up the win. Dunn homered again on Wednesday, but this time had little help from the rest of the lineup, and Hector Noesi was hit hard in a 7-2 defeat. Six doubles highlighted a 7-4 victory for Chicago in the series finale, including a pair by Abreu, who better figure out where he's going to put his AL Rookie of the Year Award. He could also be this year choice for MVP voters who simply refuse to vote for Mike Trout. (a large bloc, as the last two years have proven)
Chicago hosted the Twins for the weekend, and it was an action-packed series. Chris Sale gave up 5 runs in the 3rd inning Friday, but the Sox scored in almost every inning to keep themselves in the game. They scored 4 in the 8th to take the lead, then held on for a 10-8 victory. Adam Eaton had 4 hits Saturday, and Alexei Ramirez homered, but it was Chicago's turn to blow a lead in the 8th inning, and they lost 8-6. Jose Quintana was inefficient on Sunday, so while he allowed only an unearned run, he lasted just 5 innings. The Sox led 3-1 at that point, but a parade of five relievers each gave up multiple runs, a total of 15 of them over the last four innings, and Chicago was crushed, 16-3.
Minnesota Twins (3-3)
SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town
The Twins were in Kansas City to begin the week. Kyle Gibson pitched 7 shutout innings in the opener, while Danny Santana had 2 hits and scored both runs in a 2-1 Minnesota victory. Phil Hughes pitched a decent game Wednesday, but the Twins' offense was light on output again (aside from Josh Willingham's 11th HR of the season) and they lost 3-2. Yet another soft showing by the lineup, combined with poor work by the Minnesota bullpen, led to a 6-3 loss in the final game, wasting a good outing by starter Kevin Correia.
It was off the Chicago to face the White Sox next. The pitching was rough on Friday, but a Chris Parmalee homer put the Twins ahead 7-6 in the 8th, but reliever Casey Fien handed that lead right back, and Minnesota lost 10-8. The Twins lost the lead late again on Saturday, but this time they bounced right back to reclaim it, and got themselves an 8-6 win, highlighted by 4 hits from Trevor Plouffe. Minnesota was behind 3-1 heading into the 6th inning of Sunday's rubber match. Then the offense went nuts, scoring 15 runs in the final four innings. All nine starters scored at least one of those runs, and Santana joined Joe Mauer as the only Twins with a 5-hit game this decade.
Trade Deadline Moves
|Team||Notable Additions||Notable Subtractions|
|Indians||prospects||Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson|
|Royals||Jason Frasor, Liam Hendriks||Danny Valencia, prospects|
|Tigers||David Price, Joakim Soria||Austin Jackson, Drew Smyly, prospects|
|Twins||Tommy Milone, Stephen Pryor||Sam Fuld, Kendrys Morales|
The Tigers are the only teams that made a move with major implications for this season. Rick Porcello would be the #2 starter for most teams in the division, but in Detroit, he's now back to being the #5 guy. I find it odd that Kansas City basically stood pat, but trying to figure out Dayton Moore's process is not for the faint of heart. The Indians sent away their two most-tenured players, but neither was a major contributor this season anyway. I like what the Twins did, but it's not going to matter in 2014.
Indians: Michael Bourn (OF) is on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain, he is expected to return next week; Jason Giambi (DH) is on the 60-day DL with left knee inflammation, he probably won't be back til rosters expand in September; Nyjer Morgan (OF) is on the 60-day DL with a sprained right knee, he could return next week; Nick Swisher (DH) exited Sunday's game with a sore right wirst, he will be evaluated on Monday
Royals: Eric Hosmer (1B) was placed on the 15-day DL with a fractured right hand, he could return in late August
Tigers: Andy Dirks (OF) is on the DL recovering from back surgery, he could return next week; Joel Hanrahan (RP) is on the 60-day DL as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, his return this season is in doubt; Luke Putkonen (RP) is on the 60-day DL with right elbow inflammation, he could return in late 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, he could return next week; Mike Pelfrey (SP) is on the 60-day DL with an elbow injury, he could return in September
White Sox: Avisail Garcia (OF) is on the 60-day DL while recovering from shoulder surgery, once thought to be out for the year, he could return in August; Nate Jones (RP) underwent Tommy John surgery, and is out for the year; Matt Lindstrom is on the 15-day DL with a left ankle tendon injury, he could return this week; Zach Putnam (RP) was placed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation, he could return this week
Player Power Poll
(Each week this alternates between the division's top hitters and pitchers of the season)
5) Rick Porcello (DET) - 141.1 IP, 3.18 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 129 ERA+, 5.6 K/9, 1.9 BB/9
4) Jose Quintana (CHI) - 142.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 126 ERA+, 7.9 K/9, 2.7 BB/9
3) Max Scherzer (DET) - 146.0 IP, 3.27 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 126 ERA+, 10.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9
2) Chris Sale (CHI) - 116.0 IP, 2.09 ERA, 2.29 FIP, 189 ERA+, 10.0 K/9, 1.6 BB/9
1) Corey Kluber (CLE) - 158.1 IP, 2.61 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 144 ERA+, 9.7 K/9, 1.9 BB/9
The Week Ahead
Indians: 2 vs. Reds, 2 @ Reds, 3 @ Yankees
Royals: 3 @ Diamondbacks, 3 vs. Giants
Tigers: 4 @ Yankees, 3 @ Blue Jays
Twins: 2 vs. Padres, 4 @ Athletics