A.L. Central Week in Review

 

The White Sox acquired Kevin Youkilis, Brett Myers, and Francisco Liriano in advance of last Tuesday’s trade deadline, and at this point, the roster isn’t likely to change much. The Sox rolled into last week having won 5 of their previous 6 games, looking to continue their strong play and hold onto their narrow lead over Detroit, who’s established itself as the only other contender in the division. Let’s take a look at the A.L. Central Week in Review:

 

Chicago: The White Sox began their week in Minnesota and A.J. Pierzynski’s 17th home run of the year staked them to a 4-0 lead in the 1st innings of Monday’s opener. Shaky pitching and defense gave that lead away though and the Sox went on to lose the game. On Tuesday Francisco Liriano made his White Sox debut and held his former team to 2 runs over 6 innings. It was 2-2 in the 9th when Pierzynski homered again; this time the lead held up. Wednesday’s rubber match was another close contest. Jake Peavy pitched 8 strong innings, striking out 8 and giving up just 2 runs on 5 hits. The Sox bats did enough to pull out a 3-2 win.

The Sox then came home to play the Angels. On Friday, Philip Humber wasn’t sharp, but the offense kept the team in it, highlighted by home runs from Pierzynski and Alex Rios. In the 10th inning Rios (who I’d written about earlier that day) hit his second home run of the game and the Sox had a big win. Saturday brought another poor start from the Sox rotation, this time by Gavin Floyd. There were also extra innings for the second night in a row. This time the Pale Hose drew the short end of the stick and were defeated. Liriano made his second start for the team Sunday. He lasted just 5 innings, but gave up just 1 run. The Sox were behind though, when Pierzynski came up in the 7th and hit yet another home run, his fifth of the week (his power this season is historic). The White Sox held on to win the game and the series.

Record for the week: 5-1

Player of the week: A.J. Pierzynski – .333/.400/1.167, 1.567 OPS, 6 H, 5 HR, 6 R, 11 RBI

Detroit: The Tigers were in Boston to start their week and on Monday the offense never got on track and Max Scherzer, while he struck out 9, also gave up 5 runs in 6.1 innings, taking the loss. Tuesday’s contest saw Justin Verlander walk 4 and allow 6 hits, leading to 4 runs through 5 innings, at which time the game went to a lengthy rain delay, and was then called, with the Tigers losing. The 5 innings outing ended a streak of 63 starts in which Verlander had gone at least 6 innings, dating back to 2010. In Wednesday’s series finale, home runs from Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Delmon Young led Detroit to a 7-5 win.

The Tigers were back home for the weekend, hosting the Indians. Anibal Sanchez, acquired from Miami last week, limited Cleveland to 2 runs over 6 innings. Prince Fielder had 3 hits, including his 18th home run of the year, and Detroit coasted to a 10-2 win. Doug Fister took a perfect game into the 6th inning Saturday night, and a shutout into the 9th. He then gave up one run, but still pitched a complete game in another Tigers victory. On Sunday Max Scherzer had a very Max Scherzeresque start, striking out 9, but lasting just 5 innings. The Tigers fell behind 5 times, but came back to tie the game in the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 7th innings; then in the 10th, down 8-5, they tied it again. At that point, Cabrera came to the plate and hit his 27th home run of the season, giving Detroit a sweep of the series.

Record for the week: 4-2

Player of the week: Prince Fielder – .421/.520/.842, 1.362 OPS, 8 H, 5 BB, 2 HR, 6 R, 7 RBI

 

The also-rans:

Cleveland: Ten days ago the Indians were still theoretically a contender; they had a winning record and were only 3.5 games out of 1st place. Since then they have lost 9 games in a row and have been outscored by a combined score of 74-28. Derek Lowe was released after giving up 7 runs in less than 3 innings Monday; his offseason acquisition must be considered a bust.

Record for the week: 0-6

 

Kansas City: The Royals were the beneficiaries of Cleveland’s awful play, getting a sweep out of their series against the Tribe in Kansas City, the Royals’ first sweep since June. Play got a bit tougher over the weekend, when the Rangers came to town, but Kansas City was able to salvage one win from the series when they took Sunday’s finale by a score of 7-6 in ten innings.

Record for the week: 4-2

 

Minnesota: The Twins week began with a win over the White Sox, but they lost the other two games in that series. Minnesota had a big weekend though; they traveled to Boston and took three of four from the Red Sox, including a dramatic comeback win on Saturday, when Joe Mauer’s 3-run homer in the 9th inning put the Twins ahead. Minnesota has won 7 of its last 10.

Record for the week: 4-3

 

The short of it: In what is now clearly a two-team race, the White Sox are sitting on a slim cushion. Their schedule for the upcoming week (at home against Kansas City and Oakland) sets up much better than Detroit’s does (hosting New York and traveling to Texas), so the Sox would be well served to build on their lead over the next seven days, before playing 14 of their next 20 games on the road.

 

A.L. Central Standings (through Sunday, August 5th):

W-L

GB

RS

RA

DIFF

Chicago

59-48

-

510

446

+64

Detroit

58-50

1.5

496

472

+24

Cleveland

50-58

9.5

458

548

-90

Minnesota

47-61

12.5

476

555

-79

Kansas City

45-62

14

447

507

-60

 

The Week Ahead:

Chicago

3 vs. KC

off Thursday

3 vs. OAK

Cleveland

3 vs. MIN

4 vs. BOS

Detroit

4 vs. NYY

3 @ TEX

Kansas City

3 @ CHW

4 @ BAL

Minnesota

3 @ CLE

off Thursday

3 vs. TB

 

 

Topics: Indians, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox

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