Josh Willingham. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Playoff Race: Josh Willingham helps Royals pull away from Tigers

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On August 11, the Kansas City Royals overhauled Detroit to take a 1/2 game lead in the A.L Central. On the same day, GM Dayton Moore filled Kansas City’s offensive hole by acquiring Josh Willingham from the Twins. Twelve days later, the Royals are not only still in first place, they have expanded their lead to 2.5 games.

Yordano Ventura picked up his 10th win with 6 strong innings while allowing only one earned run, while Billy Butler and Josh Willingham hit solo home runs in KC’s 6-3 win over the Rangers in Arlington.

However, manager Ned Yost was forced to use Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland when Francisley Bueno turned a 5-1 margin into a precarious 5-3 lead by allowing back to back doubles to open the 7th.

Sigh. Herrera, Davis, and Holland could form a devastating weapon in October—if they aren’t worn down by hard road to get there.

A.L. CENTRAL

Rk Tm W L W-L% GB Home Road 1Run vRHP vLHP ≥.500 <.500 last10 last30
1 KCR 71 56 .559 33-28 38-28 17-21 51-38 20-18 38-35 33-21 7-3 23-7
2 DET 68 58 .540 2.5 33-29 35-29 19-18 43-39 25-19 36-33 32-25 5-5 13-17
3 CLE 64 63 .504 7.0 37-25 27-38 18-17 48-43 16-20 31-38 33-25 6-4 14-16
4 CHW 59 69 .461 12.5 31-32 28-37 21-20 42-52 17-17 36-42 23-27 3-7 12-18
5 MIN 57 70 .449 14.0 28-35 29-35 17-19 38-46 19-24 35-46 22-24 4-6 13-17
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/23/2014.

The latest bump comes courtesy of Detroit’s relief meltdown against the Twins in the 6th inning. After the Tigers pulled within 1 run at 6-5, the Twins hung 9 runs on the beleaguered Detroit pitching staff. The bullpen could not stop the bleeding until the game was  a laugher.

The Twins ended up winning 20-6.

Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski’s “Stars and Scrubs” strategy looks like it’s failing due to injuries to too many stars. Anibal Sanchez is on the DL. Justin Verlander is struggling with a sore shoulder and hasn’t been himself all season. And, the star reliever Dombroski acquired to stabilize the Tigers’ pen, ex-Royal Joakim Soria, is also on the DL.

The Tiger simply don’t have the depth right now to withstand those injuries.

Meanwhile, Cleveland also lost 5-1 to the Astros, on top of news that they have likely lost RF Nick Swisher for the rest of the season.

A.L. WILD CARD

Rk Tm W L W-L% GB Strk Home Road 1Run vRHP vLHP ≥.500 <.500 last10 last30
1 LAA 76 51 .598 L 1 41-23 35-28 23-18 55-35 21-16 32-38 44-13 8-2 17-13
2  OAK 75 52 .591 W 1 42-22 33-30 17-17 54-37 21-15 42-33 33-19 3-7 15-15
3 BAL 73 53 .579 L 1 34-26 39-27 25-18 52-38 21-15 42-35 31-18 6-4 20-10
4 KCR 71 56 .559 W 1 33-28 38-28 17-21 51-38 20-18 38-35 33-21 7-3 23-7
5  SEA 69 58 .543 W 1 34-32 35-26 14-23 42-41 27-17 39-28 30-30 7-3 17-13
6  DET 68 58 .540 0.5 L 2 33-29 35-29 19-18 43-39 25-19 36-33 32-25 5-5 13-17
7  NYY 65 61 .516 3.5 W 2 31-31 34-30 21-16 47-43 18-18 31-33 34-28 4-6 16-14
8  TOR 65 63 .508 4.5 L 1 33-27 32-36 11-12 48-46 17-17 33-38 32-25 3-7 15-15
9  CLE 64 63 .504 5.0 L 2 37-25 27-38 18-17 48-43 16-20 31-38 33-25 6-4 14-16
10  TBR 63 65 .492 6.5 W 2 29-36 34-29 18-16 47-48 16-17 37-49 26-16 5-5 18-12

Seattle pulled off 5-run, 9th inning rally to beat Boston 5-3 at Fenway Park. The Mariners remain 2 games behind Kansas City with the victory. k the

Seattle also overtook the Tigers to gain a .5 game lead on Detroit for the 2nd wild card. Right now, the Tigers are a team in trouble.

New York is hanging in there with 2-straight victories, after a 2-6 swoon. Right now, the Yankees look like an old and tired club that just doesn’t have the horses to make noise in the Wild Card race, much less make a run at Baltimore for the division lead.

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Tags: Billy Butler Greg Holland Josh Willingham Kansas City Royals Yordano Ventura

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