It was a week filled with tight games for the White Sox as five of their six contests were decided by just one or two runs. The team couldn’t catch many breaks during a weeklong road trip against National League competition. Meanwhile, a couple of their pursuers are playing well and the standings are tightening up. Let’s take a look around the division in the A.L. Central Week in Review:
Chicago: The week began in St. Louis with 3 games against the Cardinals. On Tuesday, Jose Quintana gave up 10 hits in 5+ innings, but he didn’t break, giving up just 1 run. It was close until the 8th, when home runs by Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski broke the game open for a win. On Wednesday Jake Peavy had his deepest start in over a month, going 7 strong innings, but the offense couldn’t muster even a single run of support and it was a 1-0 White Sox loss. Dunn went long again on Thursday, but that wasn’t enough to overcome another rough outing from Gavin Floyd, his 6th straight start without a strong performance as the Sox dropped the series.
Friday’s opener with the Dodgers matched Chris Sale with 2011 N.L. Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. The potential pitchers’ duel never materialized though. The Sox put up five early runs, powered by Adam Dunn’s league leading 23rd HR. Sale cruised through five, but ran into trouble in the 6th. A series of hits chased him and Jesse Crain couldn’t keep anyone from scoring. Alex Rios later hit his second HR of the game, but the Sox went down in defeat. A parade of hits staked the Sox to a 5-4 lead through five innings Saturday and four relievers combined for 4 no-hit innings to make it stand up for a White Sox win. Jose Quintana was fantastic in Sunday’s rubber match. He used just 77 pitches to get through 8 shutout innings and with the Sox up 1-0 he went finished things off. Wait… no he didn’t. Quintana was pulled for the 9th and Addison Reed couldn’t finish it. Matt Thornton came in for the 10th and promptly took his second loss of the weekend (though a horrible play in left field by Jordan Danks was most deserving of blame). A tough week ended with a tough loss.
Record for the week: 2-4
Player of the week: Jose Quintana – 2 starts, 13.1 innings, 10 K, 0 BB, a 0.68 ERA (2nd best in the A.L.) and 1.13 WHIP. Has he earned himself a permanent spot in the Sox rotation???
Cleveland: The Indians week began with a rough trip downstate to Cincinnati. In Tuesday’s opener the Tribe mustered only six hits and one run and poor bullpen work turned a close game into a 7-1 Cleveland loss. Derek Lowe wasn’t awful Wednesday, but he wasn’t good either. The offense picked up a little, but it was still a weak effort and another defeat. Shin-Soo Choo homered twice on Thursday, while Asdrubal Cabrera and Lou Marson added 3 hits each, but starter Josh Tomlin was shelled and Cleveland was swept. Former Indian Brandon Phillips wrecked his former team, going 8 for 13 with 2 HR and 7 RBI in the series.
The Indians returned home to host the Pirates. Justin Masterson had his first scoreless outing of the season, going 7 strong innings and striking out 9. A double from Carlos Santana and a single from Michael Brantley each scored a run in a 2-0 Cleveland win. The single also extended Brantley’s hitting streak to 22 games. It would end on Saturday, but is the longest MLB streak this season. Ubaldo Jimenez was off in his start and solo home runs from Asdrubal Cabrera and Casey Kotchman weren’t nearly enough in a 9-2 loss. Sunday’s finale brought another defeat for Cleveland. 3 Cabrera errors did starter Jeanmar Gomez no favors. Jason Kipnis hit his 11th HR and steal his league leading 17th base, but that couldn’t keep the Indians from dropping the game and the series. Since sweeping the Tigers on May 24th, the Indians are just 7-14, the worst record in the American League; they have also given up a league worst 130 runs over that stretch.
Record for the week: 1-5
Player of the week: Asdrubal Cabrera – .364/.462/.591, an OPS of 1.052, 8 hits, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 BB, 3 runs
Detroit: The Tigers started off their week at Wrigley Field. Detroit tied Tuesday’s game in the 7th, but lost it when Phil Coke and a Jhonny Peralta throwing error combined to allow the winning run to score in the 8th. The Tigers bounced back Wednesday. Rick Porcello lasted just 5 innings, but Detroit’s bullpen tossed 4 scoreless frames. Peralta made up for his Tuesday miscue with 3 hits, Brennan Boesch added 4, and the Tigers won 8-4. Thursday’s finale saw Justin Verlander give up just 2 runs over 8 innings while striking out 8. Austin Jackson had 3 hits, including a 9th inning home run, as Detroit won 5-3 and took the series from the Cubs.
Detroit hosted the Rockies for the weekend. The Tigers used 6 early doubles to score 4 runs, but the game was tight and had to go to extra innings. That’s when Jose Valverde imploded. He gave up 3 hits, walked two, and made a throwing error. 6 runs in total were scored off him. The Rockies added two off Luis Marte and the Tigers lost 8-4. Saturday saw Doug Fister return from the DL. He pitched 6 shutout innings and Miguel Cabrera’s 14th HR led Detroit to A 4-1 win. Sunday’s rubber match was started by Max Scherzer, who is something of a Jekyll and Hyde on the mound from game to game. On Sunday, he was stellar, tossing 8 scoreless frames, striking out 12 without issuing a single walk. Quintin Berry had 5 hits and the Tigers won the series. They have climbed to within 3 games of first place.
Record for the week: 4-2
Player of the week: Max Scherzer – 2 starts, 14 innings, a league leading 20 K, a 1.93 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP
Kansas City: In Tuesday’s series opener against the Brewers, Kansas City faced Zack Greinke, who won a Cy Young award as a Royal) for the first time. A solo home run by Alex Gordon was the only damage they could do against Greinke, but Luis Mendoza pitched well too and K.C.scored the winning run against Milwaukee’s bullpen. Jonathan Sanchez made his first start in over a month Wednesday, giving up just one run in a 4-3 Royals win. On Thursday Kansas City entered the bottom of the 9th down a run, but tremendous base running by Jarrod Dyson allowed him to score the game winning run all the way from first base on a single to left field, giving K.C. a sweep.
Next up was a trip across Missouri to face the Cardinals. Friday night Vin Mazzaro pitched 6 shutout innings in a 3-2 Royals victory. Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless 9th for his 16th save. The winning streak came to an end Saturday as Bruce Chen was unable to get out of the 2nd inning and gave up 6 runs. The Royals actually came back to take a 7-6 lead, with Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas each tallying three hits, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it. K.C. found itself behind heading into the 9th of Sunday’s rubber match, but Billy Butler’s 12 HR of the season knotted things up. It took to the 15th inning, but the Royals would take the series finally on a Yuniesky Betancourt home run. Since Kansas City’s 11-game losing streak, which ended April 25th, the Royals have the best record in the division.
Record for the week: 5-1
Player of the week: Alex Gordon – .360/.484/.600, an OPS of 1.084, 9 hits, 3 2B, 1 HR, 6 BB, 6 runs
Minnesota: The Twins hosted Philadelphia to begin their week. In Tuesday’s contest the offense erupted for 11 runs on 17 hits, including home runs from Denard Span, Josh Willingham, and Trevor Plouffe, who’s been on fire in June. Plouffe and Willingham both homered again Wednesday, but starter P.J. Walters left the game with shoulder pain and Minnesota went on to lose a high scoring game. Jim Thome hit a MASSIVE home run for the Phillies, which drew applause from the Minnesota fans, who fell for Thome during his stint with the Twins (everyone falls for Thome). The bats went cold Thursday and Minnesota lost the finale.
The Brewers paid Minnesota a weekend visit an on Friday Trevor Plouffe hit his 3rd and 4th home runs of the week. Twins closer Matt Capps came into a tied game in the 9th and gave up a long home run as the Twins lost 5-3. Minnesota didn’t get much hitting Saturday, which when combined with two errors by Jamey Carroll and mediocre pitching, made for a 6-2 loss. The Twins were down 4-1 on Sunday, and looked likely to be swept, but four straight singles with two outs in the 7th tied the game. No one scored in the 8th or 9th, or the 10th-14th for that matter (the Twins bullpen pitched 9 shutout innings and stranded 17 Brewers, which is an MLB high for the season). Finally, in the bottom of the 15th, Denard Span singled to score Brian Dozier and win the game for Minnesota.
Record for the week: 2-4
Player of the week: Trevor Plouffe – .391/.500/1.087, an OPS of 1.587, best in the American League, also led the league with 5 HR and 8 runs scored and had 7 RBI
A.L. Central Standings (through Sunday, June 17th):
The Week Ahead:
3 vs. CHC
3 vs. MIL
3 vs. CIN
3 @ HOU
3 vs. STL
3 @ PIT
3 @ HOU
3 vs. STL
3 @ PIT
3 @ CIN