American League Central Review – Tigers Point of View
By Scott Byrne
May 30, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder (28) waits his turn to bat in the on deck circle against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
For the most recent week passed – Friday, May 24- Thursday, May 30.
- Detroit Tigers 29-23
- Cleveland Indians 29-24
- Chicago White Sox 24-26
- Minnesota Twins 23-28
- Kansas City Royals 22-29
WEEKLY RECORD/POWER RANKING
- Detroit Tigers 3-4
- Minnesota Twins 5-2
- Chicago White Sox 3-3
- Cleveland Indians 2-5
- Kansas City Royals 1-6
- The TIGERS continued to get dominant performances from their starting rotation. The offense is beginning to show the strain of absent leadoff batter Austin Jackson, and struggled to score unless Miguel Cabrera delivered the big blow. OBSERVATIONS: – Prince Fielder may need a day off; at the very least, he needs to take the easy singles that over-shifted infields are gifting him. And would Victor Martinez playing first a couple times a week improve the infield defense? I think so…Avisail Garcia delivered a huge three-bagger on Sunday, and I am ready to see him get everyday playing time until AJax returns…Brayan Pena continues to impress – not ready to see him as an everyday player yet, though…and on that subject, would Alex Avila be in Mudhens threads already if his dad wasn’t on staff? Hmmmm….
- The TWINS avoided a sweep at the hands of the Tigers, then pasted the moribund Brewers four straight. Joe Mauer had a nice week, belting 3 dingers, and veteran slugger Josh Willingham is showing signs of life after a slow start. P.J. Walters delivered a strong start against Detroit after his recall from Triple-A. Still, it appears the Twins biggest concern will be who gets shipped out at the trade deadline, with Willingham, 1B Justin Morneau, and closer Glen Perkins all likely to be coveted commodities.
- The WHITE SOX continued on their destined path to a .500 season, sweeping the sinking Marlins but returning the favor to the cross-town Cubbies. Sluggers Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko have been little help to the sputtering offense, and catalyst Alex Rios had a 3-for-25 week. Pitching coach Don Cooper continues to work miracles with a staff of no-names like Dylan Axelrod and Jose Quintana, but I am still looking for an 81-81 finish from this squad.
- The INDIANS have outperformed expectations to this point, however, their schedule for the next month could be a litmus test – contender or pretender? They were swept at Fenway and by the Reds in Cinci, before bouncing back and beating the Reds twice at home. Now they get Tampa at home, travel to Yankee Stadium and Comerica Park, then visit the Rangers in Arlington; host the Nationals, Royals and Twins, and finish the month of June with back-to-back four game sets at Baltimore and Chicago. With closer Chris Perez on the shelf with shoulder tendinitis, the bullpen chairs will be shuffled for a while. Seeing Terry Francona in the Indians dugout should bolster the confidence of Indians fans – I expect them to keep the Tigers in sight throughout this stretch and be a pain in the rear into September.
- The ROYALS keep stacking up the losses – 8 in a row vs. Houston, the Angels and St. Louis, before finally snapping the streak on Thursday. Ned Yost‘s seat is getting pretty warm, and it isn’t from the humidity in K.C. The Royals only managed to score 15 runs in 7 games, wasting some good starting pitching (James Shields has a 2.92 ERA but is just 2-6). Expectations were high coming into this season, and unless all the young bats come around in a hurry, Yost may be the scapegoat.
All in all, it was a pretty dismal effort from the division that not too long ago led all Major League divisions in wins. Keep an eye out this week to see if: the Tigers and Royals slumbering bats wake up; the White Sox makeshift pitching staff continues to outperform; the Indians bullpen weathers the storm against tougher competition; and the Twins sweep of Milwaukee catapults them into the race.