A.L. Central Week in Review
It was an up and down week for the White Sox. Actually, more accurately, it was a down and then up week. They hold 1st place by the slimmest of margins at the moment. Sunday also brought news that the Sox have traded for Boston’s Kevin Youkilis, who’ll take over at 3B for the South Siders. He hasn’t produced much this season, but if he can stay healthy and return to form a bit, he could be a difference maker in this tightly packed division. Let’s take a look at the A.L. Central Week in Review:
Chicago: The week began with the Cubs visiting U.S. Cellular. Zach Stewart was brought up to give other starters more rest, but he gave up 6 runs before exiting in the 6th. Will Ohman and Nate Jones combined to give up 6 more runs as the Sox were routed 12-3. Home runs from A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko provided the only scoring. Jake Peavy pitched well Tuesday, going the distance and allowing just 2 runs, but the bats were held to just 4 hits and the Sox lost again, dropping them behind Cleveland in the standings. Gavin Floyd pitched 6.1 shutout innings in the series finale and Gordon Beckham’s 9th HR of the year led the offense in a 7-0 win to avoid the sweep.
The Brewers visited next for what proved to be one of the most closely played series of the year. On Friday, Chris Sale was dominant, throwing 8 scoreless frames and striking out 7. Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke was just as good though and the game was knotted at zero after nine. Jesse Crain couldn’t keep it going in the 10th though and the Sox lost 1-0. There was much more offense Saturday’s game, which the Pale Hose won 8-6. Beckham, Alex Rios, and Dayan Viciedo each had 3 hits along the way. Sunday’s rubber match was another pitching duel, Jose Quintana pitched 8 shutout innings; he has been very impressive this month. As on Friday, the game went to extra innings still scoreless, but this time it was the White Sox turn to push one across, they won a pinch-hit single from Eduardo Escobar and recapturing 1st place.
Record for the week: 3-3
Player of the week: Gordon Beckham – .409/.480/.591, an OPS of 1.071, 9 hits, 1 HR, 2 SB, 3 runs, 5 RBI
Cleveland: The Indians hosted the Reds after having been swept in Cincinnati the week before. Derek Lowe got hammered for 7 runs, but the Cleveland offense did plenty of its own scoring, getting home runs from Shin-Soo Choo, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Casey Kotchman in a 10-9 win. Josh Tomlin pitched better on Tuesday, but the bats were quieter too and the game went to extra innings before Asdrubal Cabrera hit a game-winning home run in the 10th inning. Justin Masterson shut the Reds down in the series finale, pitching a complete game and giving up only a lone, unearned run. Cabrera and Johnny Damon both homered in an easy 8-1 Cleveland victory to complete the sweep.
The Indians traveled to Houston for the weekend, but their bats must have been sent somewhere else. On Friday the Indians managed just 2 runs. Fortunately for them, it was a good night for Ubaldo Jimenez, who pitched 6.2 without any runs. Chris Perez picked up his 23rd save. Starter Jeanmar Gomez gave up 5 runs Saturday and for the 6th start in a row was unable to pitch even 6 innings. His ERA has climbed from 3.19 to 5.18 in that time and he may not be long for the rotation. A solo home run from Cabrera was the only scoring Cleveland would get in an 8-1 loss. Sunday was a 7-1 loss for the Indians, Derek Lowe pitched alright, but the bullpen gave up some runs and the offense didn’t score any anyway as the Tribe fell back behind the Sox.
Record for the week: 4-2
Player of the week: Shin-Soo Choo – .360/.407/.760, an OPS of 1.167, 9 hits, 5 2B, 1 HR, 19 total bases, 4 runs
Detroit: The Tigers hosted the Cardinals to begin their week. Justin Verlander was on the mound Tuesday, and while he was not at his sharpest, even an “okay” start from the reigning MVP allowed just 3 runs (1 earned) to score over 7 innings. Miguel Cabrera collected 2 hits, including his 20th 2B of the year as Detroit won 6-3. Rick Porcello pitched well Wednesday, but didn’t get much help from the offense as the Tigers fell by a score of 3-1. In the rubber match Prince Fielder’s 11th HR of the season provided Detroit’s only run through 9 innings, but Tigers’ prospect Jacob Turner and the bullpen kept St. Louis at bay and sent the game to extras, where a Quintin Berry single won the game for Detroit.
The Tigers traveled to Pittsburgh for the weekend and promptly dropped both Friday and Saturday’s games by identical 4-1 scores, managing only 4 hits in each game. Doug Fister and Max Scherzer each pitched respectably, but would have needed to be flawless in order to win. On Sunday Detroit trotted out Verlander to try and stave off the sweep and to no one’s surprise, he was successful. He pitched a complete game, his league leading 4th of the season and the Tigers won 3-2.
Record for the week: 3-3
Player of the week: Justin Verlander – 2 starts, 16 innings (led league) , 10 strikeouts, 1.69 ERA, 0.94 WHIP (led league)
Kansas City: The Royals were in Houston to begin their week. On Monday K.C. put up 7 runs on 13 hits, including 3 from Alex Gordon, but starter Jonathan Sanchez and reliever Louis Coleman combined to give up 9 runs as the Royals lost. Tuesday brought Luke Hochevar best start of the year; he went 7.2 innings without giving up a run and a 1st inning home run from Billy Butler provided all the scoring Kansas City needed in a 2-0 win. The Royals could only manage 4 hits Wednesday, but scored a pair of runs with them and got good enough work from Bruce Chen and four relievers to win 2-1 and take the series. Jonathan Broxton finished things off for his 18th save of the year.
The Royals returned home to host St. Louis in a battle for Show Me State supremacy, but Vin Mazzaro could not keep the Royals run of good pitching going; he gave up 7 runs and could not escape the 2nd inning. Kansas City’s top catching prospect Salvador Perez finally made his 2012 debut after tearing a knee ligament this spring and had 2 hits, the lone bright spot in an 11-4 loss. Saturday was more of the same, an 8-2 loss for the Royals, Gordon and Alcides Escobar each had a pair of hits, but they weren’t nearly enough. Sunday’s finale was a slugfest, but K.C. found itself on the wrong end of it as Sanchez was roughed up again, wasting two home runs from Mike Moustakas, along with blasts from Jeff Francoeur and Billy Butler.
Record for the week: 2-4
Player of the week: Alex Gordon – .360/.407/.560, an OPS of .967, 9 hits, 2 3B, 1 HR, 5 runs
Minnesota: The Twins traveled to Pittsburgh for a midweek series. Scott Diamond, who’s been Minnesota’s best pitcher in 2012, didn’t have it on Tuesday. Trevor Plouffe added 2 hits to his impressive June, but the Twins fell. Francisco Liriano pitched Wednesday. He gave up just 1 run over 6.2 innings, his 4 good game in 5 starts since his return to the rotation after a couple weeks in the pen. Josh Willingham’s 14th HR of the year provided the winning run for Minnesota. Thursday’s finale was another clunker for the Twins though; Justin Morneau had a pair of hits, but no else got much going, Liam Hendriks continued to show he shouldn’t be starting in, and Minnesota dropped the contest 9-1.
The Twins drove down the road a piece to Cincinnati for the weekend and on Friday finally found a little scoring. Ben Revere and Ryan Doumit each had 4 hits and the bullpen pitched 4 scoreless innings in a 5-4 Minnesota win. Starter Brian Duensing lasted just 3 innings Saturday, but it hardly mattered as the Reds’ Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto shut the Twins out for 7 innings in a 6-0 Reds win. The rubber match on Sunday was a great game. Plouffe’s 15 HR of the year helped Minnesota to a 2-1 lead late, before Joey Votto hit a 2 run homer in the 8th to put Minnesota behind, 3-2. It seemed a shame for Scott Diamond, who’d pitched well. Josh Willingham picked him up though, with a 2-run HR of his own to put the Twins back ahead for a 4-3 win and a series win over the 1st place Reds.
Record for the week: 3-3
Player of the week: Josh Willingham – .300/.375/.700, an OPS of 1.075, 6 hits, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 runs, 4 RBI
A.L. Central Standings (through Sunday, June 24th):
The Week Ahead:
3 @ MIN
4 @ NYY
3 @ BAL
4 @ BAL
3 @ TEX
4 @ TB
3 vs. TB
4 @ MIN
3 vs. CWS
4 vs. KC