A.L. Central Week in Review
The White Sox went into last week coming off a frustrating series against the Royals but still sitting on a two game lead over Detroit as the two teams prepared for their 4-game series as U.S. Cellular. Let’s take a look at the A.L. Central week in review:
The White Sox and Tigers began their week with what was scheduled to be four games on the South Side. In Monday’s opener matched up Jose Quintana with Rick Porcello. Quintana was sharp, allowing just 1 run over 7.2 innings. Alex Rios put the Sox ahead in the 6th with a 3-run home run, his 23rd of the year. A.J. Pierzynski later added his 26th HR and Gordon Beckham hit his 14th as the Pale Hose coasted to a 6-1 victory, extending their lead to 3 games. On Tuesday Jake Peavy coasted through the first 4 innings and the Sox were ahead 2-0, but Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera both homered in the 5th, putting the Tigers on top. Doug Fister gave up just 2 runs in 7 innings and Detroit held on for a 5-3 win, pulling back within 2 games. Wednesday night it was Gavin Floyd‘s turn to pitch 4 shutout innings before getting into trouble in the 5th. Detroit pulled ahead 3-1 at that point and a 3-run shot by Prince Fielder in the 7th extended the lead. It was 8-1 at that point. Kevin Youkilis hit his second HR of the night in the 8th and the Sox continued to fight, but ultimately they lost, 8-6. The lead was down to 1 with Chris Sale vs. Justin Verlander set to battle in Thursday’s finale. For better or for worse, Mother Nature wouldn’t cooperate, and Thursday’s game was postponed to this afternoon. The Sox entered the weekend clinging to a 1 game lead.
Chicago: For the Sox, the weekend brought a trip to Minnesota, who’s been a Chicago whipping boy all season. Chris Sale pitched 6 shutout innings in Friday’s contest. Youkilis homered again and Alex Rios added a pair of hits in a 6-0 victory. Francisco Liriano returned to the rotation to face his old team Saturday and was strong. He struck out 9 while allowing just 1 hit and 2 walks over 7 innings. Paul Konerko hit one out and Adam Dunn had two hits as the Sox won again. Dunn homered in Sunday’s finale, his 39th of the season and the Sox coasted behind 10 hits and a solid start by Peavy to a 9-2 win and a sweep of the series, giving them a 14-4 record against Minnesota for the year. Thank yous can be sent to Target Field.
Record for the week: 4-2
Player of the week: Gordon Beckham – .412/.474/.824, a 1.297 OPS, 7 H, 2 HR, 5 R, 4 RBI
Detroit: The Tigers weekended in Cleveland. Justin Verlander, who’d been roughed up in two of his three previous starts, had no such trouble Friday night, throwing 7 shutout innings as Detroit took an easy 4-0 win. The Tigers built a 5-0 lead on Saturday, highlighted by Miguel Cabrera‘s 37th home run of the year. The Indians clawed back a bit, scoring in the 7th and 8th, but the comeback fell short and the Tigers had another win. Sunday’s finale was a see-saw affair, but another Cabrera home run put Detroit ahead 6-5, a lead they carried into the 9th. The third triple of Carlos Santana‘s career tied the game though and then a Lonnie Chisenhall single ended the game. Blowing a 9th inning team to arguably the worst team in the A.L. is no way for a contender to play; the loss dropped Detroit back to 2 games behind the White Sox.
Record for the week: 4-2
Player of the week: Miguel Cabrera – .407/.464/.815, a 1.243 OPS, 11 H, 3 HR, 5 R, 5 RBI
Kansas City: The Royals took 2 of 3 from the Twins and then lost 2 of 3 to the Angels. Alex Gordon leads the league with 47 doubles. The last Royal to lead the league was George Brett, in 1990.
Record for the week: 3-3
Cleveland: The Indians won 1 of 3 against the Rangers and then 1 of 3 against the Tigers. Going into the week, Cleveland had won just one game all season when trailing after 8, but both of last week’s wins were 9th inning comebacks.
Record for the week: 2-4
Minnesota: The Twins lost 2 of 3 to the Royals before being swept by the Sox. Josh Willingham is up to 34 home runs now. Only Harmon Killebrew has ever hit more than that in a Minnesota Twins uniform.
Record for the week: 1-5
The short of it: The Sox keep finding ways to stay in first place. They’ve struggled somewhat against the Tigers in head-to-head games but have played much better than Detroit against the rest of the league. This afternoon will wrap up the season series and if the Sox can win, they’ll take a commanding 3 game lead with just 16 games to play, which would make them a good bet for the playoffs.
A.L. Central Standings (through Sunday, September 16th):
The Week Ahead:Chicago
1 vs. DET
3 @ KC
3 @ LAA
3 vs. MIN
3 @ KC
1 @ CWS
3 vs. OAK
3 vs. MIN
3 vs. CWS
3 vs. CLE
3 @ CLE
3 @ DET