Oh, this crazy AL Central! The Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, and Kansas City Royals have been blazing hot since the All-Star break, so despite all of the winning, The Tigers are still in the driver’s seat. These three teams are a combined 36-11 since the All-Star break, a terrific combined win total, and each of the teams have had a winning streak of at least 8 games. These teams are on fire!
Late in the week, even the Minnesota Twins got into the act, completing a 3-game sweep over the weekend. Only the Chicago Whit Sox have nothing to cheer about, as they have lost their last 10 outings.
1)Detroit Tigers (64-45): Last week – 5-0. Since the All-Star break – 12-3. Summary: The Tigers are doing their utmost to frustrate the Indians and Royals by not allowing them to cut into their divisional lead, despite their great play. In their five wins this past week, the Tigers only allowed 5 total runs while compiling 24 of their own. They are currently on an 8-game winning streak. Detroit has a couple of monster match-ups this week. First they travel to Cleveland for a 4-game clash with the divisional lead at stake. The Indians are 3 games back and would like nothing more than sweep Detroit, or at the very least, win 3. The Tigers want to hold them with at least a split. Then the Tigers head to New York, where the Yankees are fighting for their wild card life. The Tigers will have to deal with the loss of Jhonny Peralta, who was suspended today. The acquisition of Jose Iglesias last week will help soften that particular blow.
AL Stat Rank – Hitting: Home Runs – 126 (5th), BA – .279 (1st), OPS – .782 (2nd). Pitching: Strikeouts – 950 (1st), ERA – 3.61 (2nd), WHIP – 1.23 (3rd).
2) Cleveland Indians (62-49, 3 GB): Last week – 6-1. Since the All-Star break – 11-5. Summary: The Indians bounced back from a so-so stretch of games after the break to eventually put together an 8-game winning streak before dropping a game on Friday. They recovered to win both games on Saturday and Sunday to stay within 3 games of Detroit. There is a lot at stake this week for the Tribe when the Tigers come calling for 4 games, then Cleveland hosts a dangerous Angels team over the weekend. A split or worse with the Tigers does the Indians no good. They must win at least 3 to keep in contact with Detroit in the Central.
AL Stat Rank – Hitting: Home Runs – 118 (8th), BA – .259 (7th), OPS – .745 (6th). Pitching: Strikeouts – 897 (3rd), ERA – 4.03 (9th), WHIP – 1.32 (9th).
3) Kansas City Royals (56-52, 7.5 GB): Last week – 5-1. Since the All-Star break – 13-3. The Royals just had their best road trip in their franchise history, going 8-1, and maybe their best stretch of games in years, yet they have only gained a half game on the Tigers since the All-Star break. Kansas City has been getting terrific performances from both their rotation and bullpen, and just enough hitting to win 13 games, including a 9-game winning streak tossed in there. This week, Kansas City matches up for 3 games with the suddenly hot Twins, then host the Boston Red Sox, who sport the best record in the American League, for 4 games. The Royals must win at least 2 in each series. to stay in the hunt.
AL Stat Rank – Hitting: Home Runs – 72 (15th), BA – .256 (8th), OPS – .685 (12th). Pitching: Strikeouts – 797 (11th), ERA – 3.58 (1st), WHIP – 1.30 (8th).
4) Minnesota Twins (48-60, 15.5 GB): Last week – 3-3. Since the All-Star break – 9-7. Summary: Although the Twins have played above .500 over since the break, they have dropped 3.5 games farther behind. The Twins are now hoping to be spoilers and to gain experience for some younger guys. This week, the Twins go on the road to Kansas City for 3, then 3 more in Chicago. The Twins could aim for .500 as a goal, but being 12 games under, it will be hard to attain that mark.
AL Stat Rank – Hitting: Home Runs – 97 (13th), BA – .241 (13th), OPS – .691 (11th). Pitching: Strikeouts – 652 (15th), ERA – 4.28 (11th), WHIP – 1.40 (14th).
5) Chicago White Sox (40-69, 24 GB): Last week – 0-7. Since the All-Star break – 3-14. Summary: In the midst of a 10-game skid right now, it is hard to come up with anything rah-rah to say about the White Sox. They are not winning. They traded one of their best starting pitchers and one of their best relievers. They are spiraling right now, but they can still try to play spoiler. They do have Chris Sale, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Alex Ramirez, and Alejandro De Aza so their cupboard is not bare. This week, they host the Yankees for 3 and the Twins for 3.
AL Stat Rank – Hitting: Home Runs – 99 (12th), BA – .246 (10th), OPS – .674 (13th). Pitching: Strikeouts – 866 (7th), ERA – 3.95 (8th), WHIP – 1.29 (5th).
The Central is far from settled as the top three teams play each other a lot down the stretch. The longer time goes on though, the harder it will be to challenge the Tigers. The Indians and Royals still have to be positive because both are in the thick of things for the second wild card berth as well.