The AL Central has spread itself out just a bit in the past week, due mainly to the Cleveland Indians being red hot and a couple of other teams are ice cold. The Central’s last place teams, a virtual tie between the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox, still have the best records of any last place teams in baseball. There are some teams tough in the Central, who consider themselves contenders, but if they don’t get things going in the right direction soon, they will just end up pretenders.
1) Cleveland Indians (25-17): Last week – 5-2, including wins in their last 4 games. Summary: The Indians made a big move this week, sliding past Detroit to take over the divisional lead. After only scoring 1 run while splitting a double header on Monday, the Indians scored 29 runs in the other 5 games of the week. This week, they finish up a wrap around series with Seattle before playing host to the Tigers in a big 2-game series. They then travel to Boston for four. While it is still early and only two games, the Indians would love to win both of those match ups against the Tigers. They hold a 2 game lead right now over Detroit and would love to extend that during head-to-head play. Team Leaders – Hitting: Average – Michael Bourn (.321), Home Runs – Mark Reynolds (12), RBI – Reynolds (37). Pitching: Wins – Justin Masterson (7), Saves – Chris Perez (6), ERA (starters) – Zach McAllister (2.65).
2) Detroit Tigers (23-19): Last week – 3-4. Summary: The Tigers got a little beat up by the Rangers this weekend and get a break with a day off on Monday before facing the Indians for 2 in Cleveland. Detroit is showeing a little vulnerability and they don’t want the Indians to gain any confidence. After the brief series with the Indians, Detroit returns home to face another divisional opponent for four games when the Twins visit. The Tigers need to take care of the bottom teams from the Central when they appear on the schedule and cannot let the Indians get too far ahead. Team Leaders – Hitting: Average – Miguel Cabrera (.387), Home Runs – Cabrera (11), RBI – Cabrera (47). Pitching: Wins – Doug Fister, Max Scherzer (5), Saves – Jose Valverde (4), ERA (starters) – Anibal Sanchez (2.77).
3) Kansas City Royals (20-20):Last week – 2-4. Summary: After starting 17-10, the Royals have only won 3 games out of their last 13. Six of those 10 losses were by 1 run and two more were by 2 runs. They have only scored 24 runs in those 10 losses. It is a big week for Kansas City. They are 4 games back of the Indians but get three games in Houston. They must win at least two of those match-ups. Then they get the Angels in a 4-game series at home. The Royals need to find away to score runs fro their improved pitching if they want to stay in this race. Another bad week could bury the Royals. Team Leaders – Hitting: Average – Alex Gordon (.343), Home Runs – Gordon (6), RBI – Billy Butler (30). Pitching: Wins – Jeremy Guthrie (5), Saves – Greg Holland (7), ERA (starters) – James Shields(2.45).
4) Chicago White Sox (19-23):Last Week – 4-3. Summary: Despite losing their last two, it was a good week for the White Sox as they passed the Twins (by mere percentage points) into fourth place. The Sox stay at home this week, hosting Boston for three then getting the Miami Marlins, the worst team in the majors, for three over the weekend. Chicago must win at least 2 against the Marlins. As a team struggling to crawl back into contention, the Sox cannot afford to lose games to the worst teams. They need to make a move now. The Red Sox will be tough but the Pale Hose need to take advantage of the Marlins. Team Leaders – Hitting: Average – Alex Rios (.301), Home Runs – Rios, Adam Dunn (10), RBI – Rios (25). Pitching: Wins – Chris Sale, Jake Peavy (5), Saves – Addison Reed (14), ERA (starters) – Sale (2.53).
5) Minnesota Twins (18-22): Last week – 1-5. Summary: The Twins have dropped 5 in a row and things are not looking up for this week. Minnesota takes to the road against some very tough squads. After a 3-game series in Atlanta, Minnesota has to go to Detroit for a big 4-game tilt. The Twins need to find a way to win 1 in Atlanta and 2 in Detroit, at the very least, to hope to continue to hang into the divisional race. Another bad week, or a continuation of their losing streak could mean the end of the Twins’ hopes for 2013. Team Leaders – Hitting: Average – Joe Mauer (.342), Home Runs – Josh Willingham (5), RBI – Justin Morneau (29). Pitching: Wins – Kevin Corriea (4), Saves – Glen Perkins (8), ERA (starters) – Correia (3.35).
This upcoming week will be a big week for the Tigers, Royals, and Twins especially. The Tigers do not want the Indians thinking they can win the division and the Royals need to turn things back around quickly if they do not want the same thing to happen in 2013 as happens to the Royals just about every year – out of it by June 1st. The Twins are in serious danger of being buried deep in the divisional standings with another bad week. The Twins do not have the firepower, either hitting or pitching, to make a big comeback in the win column. We’ll see in a week if the standings spread out even more.