The White Sox went into last week smarting from being swept in Kansas City. The Yankees (who entered the week with the American League’s best record) and suddenly hot Mariners weren’t the easiest possible opponents, but the team still must have been glad to be home as they looked to add to a 1.5 game lead over Detroit. Let’s take a look at the A.L. Central Week in Review:
Chicago: The Sox had the Yankees over for a battle of 1st place teams. Gavin Floyd was pulled in the 3rd inning Monday, having already allowed 9 base runners, but home runs from Dewayne Wise, Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, and Adam Dunn helped the Pale Hose to a 9-6 win. On Tuesday Paul Konerko hit his 21st HR of the season and Kevin Youkilis hit a grand slam, which was more than enough offense for Francisco Liriano, who made his second solid start in a row. Wednesday it was the Chris Sale show. He struck out 13, the second-highest total of his career, and allowed just 1 run. It was a thing of beauty and gave the Sox a sweep.
The Mariners were next into town and Friday night brought one of the wildest games of the season. Jake Peavy pitched well, Adam Dunn hit his MLB leading 37th and 38th home runs of the season and heading into the 9th the Sox were sitting on a 7-2 lead. Seattle scored 6 though, with Addison Reed responsible for most of the damage. In the bottom half though the South Siders tied it back up and then won it on a double by Konerko that was in Seattle’s Eric Thames’ glove momentarily. Saturday’s contest was less dramatic, but just as close; the Sox won 5-4 in a game that saw 5 Sox players collect multiple hits.Floyd started Sunday, but left after just 2 innings with shoulder pain. He could use some time off. It was a rainy day, the game started over an hour late, and in the 7th inning, with the Sox behind, another delay seemed inevitable. The grounds crew came out to take care of the infield instead though and when the game resumed, Tyler Flowers hit a 2-run blast to put the team ahead. A few minutes later, the game was delayed and eventually called, giving the Sox another win and another sweep.
Record for the week: 6-0
Player of the week: Chris Sale – 1 start, 7.2 IP, 13 strikeouts, 1.17 ERA, 0.52 WHIP, 13.00 K/BB
Detroit: The Tigers hosted Toronto at the start of the week. Max Scherzer had 8 strikeouts over 7 innings Tuesday and gave up just 1 run. Austin Jackson had 3 hits in the Detroit victory. Wednesday’s contest was low scoring, but Anibal Sanchez, who’s had a hard time since being traded to Detroit, kept them in the game and the offense did just enough to pull out another win. Justin Verlander pitched 9 innings in Thursday’s finale and struck out 12. The only blemish was a 2-run HR by Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion, but that was enough to require extra innings. The Tigers won it on an Alex Avila single in the 11th, completing the sweep.
The Tigers had the Angels in town for the weekend and on Friday Rick Porcello gave them their 4th straight good start of the week, but the bats were nearly silent. Miguel Cabrera’s 32nd home run of the year, a solo shot, did the only real damage in a 2-1 loss. Detroit fell behind 3-0 Saturday and was still trailing until a Jhonny Peralta double put them ahead in the 8th. They held on for a 5-3 win, evening the series. Scherzer took the mound again Sunday and again gave up just 1 run in 7 innings, this time with 9 strikeouts. He’s now had at least 8 Ks in 8 straight starts, the longest such streak in the A.L. since Pedro Martinez did it 11 times in a row in 2002. Prince Fielder and Delmon Young hit back-to-back homers to put the Tigers ahead for good in the 6th as Detroit won the series.
Record for the week: 5-1
Player of the week: Max Scherzer – 2 starts, 14 IP, 17 strikeouts, 1.29 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 4.25 K/BB
Kansas City: The Royals traveled to Tampa, where they lost the opener and finale, but were able to squeeze a 1-0 10-inning victory into the middle. Luke Hochevar pitched 8 shutout innings in that contest, striking out 10 while allowing just 1 hit. Next up was a 4-game series in Boston, which won’t conclude until Monday. As they did in Tampa, K.C. lost the first and third games of the series, but won an extra-inning affair in between. Alex Gordon hit his A.L. leading 41st 2B of the year and also drove in 4 runs. He’s probably been the team’s MVP this season.
Record for the week: 2-4
Cleveland: The Indians came into the week on a 5-game losing streak and picked up where they left off, getting swept by Seattle and scoring just 5 runs in 3 games. They returned home to host New York next. On Friday Cleveland fans had to endure watching former Indian CC Sabathia dominate them as the Tribe fell again. Justin Masterson put in a good outing on Saturday to break what had become a 9-game losing streak (only Cleveland’s second-longest losing streak of the last month), but the Indians fell again Sunday and are now 5-23 over the last month.
Record for the week: 1-5
Minnesota: The Twins were in Oakland to begin their week, continuing a 10-game road trip out west. Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, and Pedro Florimon each had 3 hits in the opener, which Minnesota won 7-2. But on Tuesday the Twins managed just 4 hits total and on Wednesday only 3, they dropped both games. The trip ended with 4 games in Texas. The Twins lost each of the first 3 games, but led by a 4-hit game from Ben Revere, they were able to salvage the finale and avoid being swept. Minnesota continues to have the worst record in the American League.
Record for the week: 2-5
The short of it: It was an incredible week for the Sox, sweeping the Yankees and then the Mariners. It had to be frustrating for Detroit to go 5-1 on the week and lose ground in the division. The upcoming week will be a challenging one, as the Sox are back on the road, first against the wildcard contending Orioles and then in Detroit for 3 critical games, including a nationally televised Sunday night game that could feature Chris Sale dueling with Justin Verlander. If the Sox come home from this trip still multiple games ahead of the Tigers, they’ll be in very good position.
A.L. Central Standings (through Sunday, August 26th):
The Week Ahead:
4 @ BAL
3 @ DET
4 vs. OAK
3 vs. TEX
3 @ KC
3 vs. CWS
1 @ BOS
3 vs. DET
3 vs. MIN
4 vs. SEA
3 @ KC