The White Sox went into last week coming off a disastrous weekend in Detroit, during which they were swept, dropping them into a tie for 1st place with the Tigers. They returned home to face the Twins before a day off and then the Royals for the weekend. Let’s take a look at the A.L. Central Week in Review:
Chicago: The Sox have had their way with Minnesota all season, so they must have been happy to see the Twins when they returned to U.S. Cellular Monday afternoon. A 2-run blast by Gordon Beckham put the Sox ahead early while Hector Santiago and a committee of six relievers (thanks, expanded rosters!) were solid in a 4-2 win that put the team back atop the Central. Tuesday didn’t go as well. Jose Quintana allowed 7 runs and couldn’t survive the 2nd inning; Philip Humber later came in and gave up 8 while recording one out. Hawk Harrelson eventually fled from the booth, unable to watch any more of an 18-9 drubbing. A solid outing from Jake Peavy and two home runs from Alex Rios helped the Sox bounce back in Wednesday’s rubber match.
Kansas City was next into town and unlike the Twins, the Royals have given the Sox trouble this season. Friday night the Sox chose to play for 1-run in the 8th inning, which isn’t surprising in a tie game, but Beckham struck out and Jose Lopez hit a weak pop fly to third. Then Addison Reed gave up a 2-run homer in the 9th and the Sox dropped the opener. Chris Sale gave up just 1 run over 6 innings Saturday and while Reed was shaky in the 9th again, this time the Pale Hose had a lead to work with, due in part to Paul Konerko‘s 22nd home run of the season, and hung on for a 5-4 win. Sunday afternoon neither team could score. The Sox had a chance to win it in the 9th but Alex Rios hit into a double-play with the bases loaded, and then, down a run in the 10th with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Alejandro De Aza and Ray Olmedo both struck out, ending the game. Why Olmedo was batting second deserves a full scale inquiry.
Record for the week: 3-3
Player of the week: Paul Konerko – .368/.455/.579, a 1.034 OPS, 7 H, 1 HR, 4 RBI
Detroit: After their sweep of the Sox, the Tigers hosted the Indians next. Cleveland rolled into town playing the worst baseball if any team in the league, but on Monday Detroit couldn’t get anything going against them and after a passed ball by Alex Avila and a throwing error by him two innings later led to two runs, the Tigers fell 3-2. It was more of the same Tuesday, as Rick Porcello wasn’t bad, but Miguel Cabrera’s 34th HR of the year was the only scoring Detroit could manage and they dropped another one. Cabrera homered again on Wednesday, as did Prince Fielder, and Doug Fister was strong over 7 innings as the Tigers managed to avoid being swept by the Indians.
The Tigers headed west to face the Angels next, but their bats must not have made it to Orange County. Friday night they could only put together 2 runs on 6 hits. Max Scherzer went 8 innings, allowing just 2 runs while striking out 8, but Octavio Dotel gave up a run in the 9th and that was it. On Saturday it got even worse, as the Tigers scored only 1 run on just 4 hits. Sometimes that’s enough with Justin Verlander on the mound, but he gave up 6 runs over 6 innings. He’s now had two bad starts in his last three outings. Sunday it was 2 runs again and 5 hits. A week after sweeping their way into 1st place, Detroit is 2 games back again already and this time, their games against the Sox will take place on the South Side.
Record for the week: 1-5
Player of the week: Prince Fielder – .300/.417/.700, an 1.117 OPS, 6 H, 2 2B, 2 HR
Kansas City: The Royals hosted Texas for four games to begin their week. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon each had 3 extra-base hits during the series (Gordon leads MLB with 46 doubles) but K.C. dropped 3 of 4 games in the series. The Royals then took 2 of 3 from the Sox, winning on Friday behind the power of two Lorenzo Cain home runs and on Sunday after Jeremy Guthrie pitched 8 shutout innings and the team strung together a bunch of hits in the 10th.
Record for the week: 3-4
Cleveland: The Indians came into the week 6-29 since taking 2 of 3 from Detroit in July. They headed to the Motor City for three with the Tigers and got solid starts from Corey Kluber and Justin Masterson on Monday and Tuesday, taking the first two games before dropping Wednesday’s finale. The Tribe was off to Minnesota next. They won on Friday, 7-6, but were shutout on Saturday and lost again on Sunday. They need more games against Detroit if they’re going to improve their record.
Record for the week: 3-3
Minnesota: The Twins were on the South Side for three games and while they dropped Monday’s opener and Wednesday’s finale, sandwiched in the middle was an 18-9 rout in which every Twins’ starter had at least one hit and scored at least one run. Minnesota then began a 4-game series with Cleveland, losing Friday’s opener before bouncing back to win the next two, including two home runs from Justin Morneau on Sunday the second one a walk-off laser. If they can win Monday’s finale, the Twins will move into a tie for 4th place.
Record for the week: 3-3
The short of it: Going 3-3 at home against the lowly Twins and Royals makes for a frustrating week, but the Tigers were an absolute mess and the Sox put two games back between the two of them, so on some level, the week was a big success. The 4-game series starting tonight at U.S. Cellular is obviously massive. The Sox have got to figure out how to beat the Tigers, but even a 2-2 split would leave them in good position going into the final three weeks of the season.
A.L. Central Standings (through Sunday, September 9th):
The Week Ahead:Chicago
4 vs. DET
3 @ MIN
1 @ MIN
3 @ TEX
3 vs. DET
4 @ CWS
3 @ CLE
3 @ MIN
3 vs. LAA
1 vs. CLE
3 vs. KC
3 vs. CWS