AL Central Update – 7/7/13: Detroit, Cleveland Starting To Separate


The AL Central is starting to separate. Detroit and Cleveland are beginning to establish breathing room from the rest of the division. Only the Royals are within shouting distance of those top two teams, and they are 6 games behind. Minnesota and Chicago has fallen behind by double digit games.

Jul 7, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter (48) celebrates his three-run home run beside Cleveland Indians first baseman Nick Swisher (33) in the eighth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

1) Detroit Tigers (48-39): Last week – 5-2. Summary: The Tigers bounced back, as good teams do, from a poor showing the week before. Detroit sandwiched 5 straight wins between losses to start and end the week. The Tigers won 2 or the first three games of a series with the Indians that ends tonight. The rest of the week features them hosting a struggling White Sox squad and an always dangerous Texas Rangers team. While neither of these series will have much direct impact on the divisional race, just adding wins and keeping ahead of the pack will keep the other Central teams from fermenting hope that the Tigers will falter. Team Leaders – Hitting: Extra Base Hits – Miguel Cabrera (49); Grounded Into Double Plays – Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Cabrera (13); Pitches Seen – Fielder (1510). Pitching: Innings Pitched – Max Scherzer (116.2); Induced Double Plays – Justin Verlander (10); Pitches Thrown – Verlander (1937).

2) Cleveland Indians (46-42): Last week – 2-4. Summary: Things could have gone better for the Indians last week as they dropped lost four to the Tigers and the Royals. Pitching was again the bugaboo as they surrendered 43runs  in 6 games. This week, Cleveland has one more against Detroit, 3 at home against Toronto, and 3 against the 3rd place Royals. The Indians have been up and down this season but they cannot afford to have two bad weeks in a row going into the All-Star break. They need to grab the Monday game against the Tigers,  and win 2 out of three in the other two series to stay close to the Tigers. Team Leaders – Hitting: Extra Base Hits – Jason Kipnis (38); Grounded Into Double Plays – Mike Aviles (10); Pitches Seen – Kipnis (1514). Pitching: Innings Pitched – Justin Masterson (128.2); Double Plays Induced – Masterson (15); Pitches Thrown – Masterson (1982).

3) Kansas City Royals (41-44): Last week – 3-3. Summary: Last week was typical of the Royals’ roller coaster season. They just can’t figure out a way to have their pitching and their hitting clicking at the same time for any extended time, leading them to hover right below .500. Now in the middle of a brutal 20-game stretch, Kansas City needs to play better than .500 ball to have any kind of chance of catching the Indians and the Tigers. This week, the Royals head to the Big Apple for four games against the Yankees, then they have an important 3-game tilt against the Indians in Cleveland. They have to find away to win at least 4 games this week or risk falling be the way side soon. Team Leaders – Hitting: Extra Base Hits – Alex Gordon (26); Grounded Into Double Plays – Alex Escobar (10); Pitches Seen – Gordon (1457). Pitching – Innings Pitched – James Shields (122.2); Double Plays Induced – Wade Davis, Shields (13); Pitches Thrown – Shields (1945).

Jul 5, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kevin Correia (30) throws against the Toronto Blue Jays in the third inning at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

4) Minnesota Twins (37-48): Last week – 1-6. Summary: Minnesota has bounced back from a couple of bad weeks already this season to challenge for 3rd place but it will be come harder and harder as the season progresses. This week, the Twins go on the road to face a surging Tampa Bay squad for four, then they play the always tough Yankees for three. The Twins are on the verge of being out of the race and another bad week going into the All-Star break will probably seal their 2013 fate. Team Leaders – Hitting: Extra Base Hits – Joe Mauer (34); Grounded Into Double Plays – Brian Dozier (10); Pitches Seen – Mauer (1564). Pitching: Innings Pitched – Kevin Correia (105.1); Double Plays Induced – Correia (16); Pitches Thrown – Correia (1636).

5) Chicago White Sox (34-51): Last week – 2-4. Summary: The Sox dropped 2.5 more games out of first place and are now 13 off the pace, virtually eliminated from the race. This week, things shouldn’t be any easier for the South Siders. The have a rain make-up today against the Cubs then travel to Detroit to face the first place Tigers, then on to Philadelphia to face another underachieving team before the break. At this point, it is going to be very difficult to make up ground an a week-to-week basis on the Tigers. The Sox will be sellers over the next 3 weeks or so. Team Leaders – Hitting: Extra base Hits – Adam Dunn, Alex Rios (31); Grounded Into Double Plays – Tyler Flowers, Rios (9); Pitches Seen – Alejandro De Aza (1522). Pitching: Innings Pitched – Chris Sale (113.1); Double Plays Induced – Matt Lindstrom (10); Sale (1735).

Next week, we will summarize this week’s games and take a look at each team’s All-Star Game representatives.