A.L. Central Week in Review
The White Sox went into last week coming off a sweep of the Twins in Minnesota, up two games on Detroit even after losing 2 of 3 to the Tigers at U.S. Cellular earlier in the week. On Monday the Sox and Tigers made up last Thursday night’s game, which was postponed by rain. The Chris Sale vs. Justin Verlander duel that was originally on tap was replaced by the less glamorous Jose Quintana vs. Doug Fister matchup and each starter last just 4 innings. Delmon Young drove in 3 runs for Detroit and Dewayne Wise had 3 hits for the Sox, but the key play of the game was Alex Rios delivering a fantastic takeout slide at second base, turning what would have been an inning-ending double play into a throwing error that allowed the tying run and what would prove to be the game winning run too. The 5-4 win gave the South Siders a 3-game lead over Detroit with their season series over. Let’s take a look at the rest of the week’s action in the A.L. Central:
Chicago: After Monday’s win, the Sox hit the road. First stop: Kansas City. Gavin Floyd pitched Tuesday and pitched well, allowing just 2 runs while going 7 innings. Alejandro De Aza, Gordon Beckham, and Alex Rios each hit solo home runs, providing enough scoring to win. It was Chris Sale‘s Wednesday. 3 runs over 6.2 innings isn’t bad, it was too much tough, because the offense put 12 guys on base, but couldn’t score a single run in a 3-0 loss. Thursday’s rubber match was a 3-3 in the 9th when the Sox intentionally walked Jeff Francoeur with two outs, in order to face Eric Hosmer instead. Hosmer singled in the game winning run. Francoeur has been awful this season and the IBB was an awful decision.
The Sox headed west to face the Angels next. Jake Peavy last just 5 innings Friday and gave up 5 runs as the Sox lost 6-2. Alex Rios had 3 hits Saturday, but the rest of the lineup couldn’t get much going. A pair of errors (one by Quintana, one by Nate Jones) helped allow 3 unearned runs to score and the Pale Hose lost, 4-2, cutting their lead down to half a game. Every time they find some breathing room, they’ve seemed to squander it quickly. Floyd pitched again Sunday and for five innings he was matching Jered Weaver out for out. A leadoff walk to MVP candidate (he’s got my vote) Mike Trout led to trouble in the 6th though and it was quickly 4-0. The Sox threatened in the 7th, but managed just 1 run and were swept out of town. They end the week on a 5-game losing streak.
Record for the week: 2-5
Player of the week: Alex Rios – .385/.429/.577, 1.005 OPS, 10 hits, 2 2B, 1 HR, one hell of a slide
Detroit: The Tigers returned to Detroit after losing on Monday to face the A’s. Max Scherzer started on Tuesday, but left after two innings with shoulder fatigue. He is said to be okay, but is worth keeping a close eye on. He’s been arguably the Tigers best pitcher for the last month, and it would be a blow to Detroit if he’s not 100% for the last two weeks. The Tigers cruised though, getting two home runs from Miguel Cabrera in a 12-2 win. Verlander pitched 6 shutout innings Wednesday to lead the Tigers to victory and Cabrera homered again, suddenly only one HR back from the league lead and a potential Triple Crown. Detroit couldn’t finish off the sweep though, dropping Thursday’s contest 12-4.
The Twins were next into the Motor City, but Friday’s game was rained out and rescheduled as the back-end of a day/night double header Sunday. Doug Fister started Saturday and pitcher perhaps the best game of his career, a complete game shutout with 7 strikeouts. Cabrera homered yet again, moving into a tie for the league lead, Austin Jackson and Delmon Young each also went long in an 8-0 Tigers win. Detroit had a chance to move back into a tie for 1st or even take it over entirely on Sunday, but choked. Scherzer looked good for 4 innings, but came apart in the 5th and the bullpen only made matters worse as the Tigers dropped the first game and then the bats went cold in the nightcap and Detroit lost again, keeping them one game back in the Central.
Record for the week: 3-4
Player of the week: Miguel Cabrera – .346/.438/.962, 1.399 OPS, 9 hits, 4 2B, 4 HR, 9 R, 10 RBI
Kansas City: The Royals took 2 of 3 from the Sox and then 2 of 3 from the Indians. Dating back to August 1st, Kansas City is 28-21, which is the best record over that time in the division. Is that a sign of things to come, or just false hope?
Record for the week: 4-2
Cleveland: The Indians lost 2 of 3 to the Twins and then lost 2 of 3 to the Royals in another bad week for the American League’s worst team. They did score 15 runs in Sunday’s win, their highest output of the season.
Record for the week: 2-4
Minnesota: The Twins won 2 of 3 against the Indians and then took 2 of 3 in Detroit. It was their first time winning back-to-back series since the first week of August.
Record for the week: 4-2
THE SHORT OF IT: The Sox had a very bad road trip, and might consider themselves lucky to still stand alone in 1st place. They return home this week to face the miserable Indians and then a Tampa Bay team that will either be fighting for its life or newly added to the collection of non-contenders. The Tigers have four against the Royals and then three in Minnesota; neither a world beater, but Detroit has had plenty of trouble with mediocre teams this year. Both the Sox and Tigers are without a day off the rest of the way and the wildcard isn’t an option. It’s put up or shut up time.
A.L. Central Standings (through Sunday, September 23rd):
The Week Ahead:Chicago
3 vs. CLE
4 vs. TB
3 @ CHW
3 vs. KC
4 vs. KC
3 @ MIN
4 @ DET
3 @ CLE
3 vs. NYY
3 vs. DET