AL Central Weekly Review
By Scott Byrne
Jun 11, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins relief pitcherGlen Perkins
(15) and catcherJoe Mauer
(7) celebrate after beating the Philadelphia Phillies at Target Field. The Twins won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
- Detroit Tigers 36 – 28
- Cleveland Indians 32 – 33
- Kansas City Royals 31 – 33
- Minnesota Twins 29 – 34
- Chicago White Sox 28 – 35
POWER RANKING/WEEKLY RECORD
- Detroit Tigers 4 – 2
- Kansas City Royals 5 – 1
- Minnesota Twins 3 – 2
- Chicago White Sox 3 – 3
- Cleveland Indians 2 – 4
- It was tempting to elevate the Royals into the first slot this week…until I considered that the TIGERS were one strike away from taking the rubber game on Wednesday at Kansas City and reversing their records…We have been begging Jose Valverde to throw his splitter more, I guess maybe he knew better than we did after all, eh?.. How good must the other dugout feel when Detroit’s starter leaves the game right now?…And how much pressure do the Tigers hitters have to be putting on themselves to add-on runs and “bullpen-proof” a lead?…All that said, I am still not in favor of paying a high price in young talent for a closer. Would you really feel better with Tom Wilhelmsen, Luke Gregerson, or Kevin Gregg pitching the ninth day-in, day-out? If we were to go that direction, my first choice is in the opponents bullpen this weekend – Glen Perkins. But I still feel like this will sort itself out, and Rick Porcello is more valuable than anything he would bring in return.
- The ROYALS solid starting pitching and flamethrowing bullpen has powered them back into contention, as they allowed just 11 runs in the past 6 games. George Brett’s influence on the bats has not been outwardly evident; however, Lorenzo Cain perked up in the past week, clipping at .318 with the game-tying jack off of Papa Grande’s splitter-that-wasn’t. A trip to Tampa awaits, let’s see how they fare against the pesky Rays.
- The TWINS managed to win once in Washington before coming home to sweep the fightin’ Phils. Brian Duensing vultured a couple of wins, and Glen Perkins continued to slam the door in the ninth with 3 saves. Erstwhile Tiger farmhand Clete Thomas contributed a 4-for-4 night, and he will certainly be eager to face the team that cast him adrift this weekend.
- The WHITE SOX managed to put together a .500 stretch this week, helped along by an Adam Dunn hot streak – 4 homers in 4 games, plus a 4-for-4 night, raising his BA all the way up to .182. Gordon Beckham indeed provided a bit of a spark, returning from the DL and going 5-for-18 with 4 runs scored. With an offense like the Pale Hose, those are heady numbers. Cheer up, Hawk Harrelson!
- The INDIANS stopped an 8-game skid by winning a pair in Texas. The renaissance of Ubaldo Jimenez continues, winning three of his last four starts and striking out a batter per inning. Jason Kipnis is starting to show his gap power and flashing his speed on the basepaths, and our old pal Ryan Raburn was last seen dropping a pair of balls on the bullpen roof at Comerica. The Tribe kicks off a nine-game homestand vs. the underachieving Nationals, the improving Royals, and the grinding Twins. Closer Chris Perez should rejoin the team next week, providing he finds his way out of the doghouse.
LAST WEEK”S FOCAL POINTS:
- Tigers-Indians showdown in Motown: Detroit managed to out-pitch and out-hit their interstate rivals in a three-game sweep, putting some distance between them and the division for the first time all season.
- The Brett Effect on KC Bats – The jury is still out. The Royals put some runs up on the Astros, but were handcuffed by the Tigers starters.
- The Twins hanging around .500 – Still hanging. Interesting weekend series vs. the Tigers upcoming.
- White Sox offense heating up? – They had averaged two runs per game over their previous 14 – last week, 30 runs scored for an average of 5 per game.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK:
- Tigers weekend series in the Twin Cities – who gets the ball in the ninth?
- Will some home cooking boost the Indians closer to the top of the division?
- Chicago goes on the road for 4 in Houston and 3 in Minny…will they keep hitting?
- The Royals on the road in Tampa and Cleveland – will they stay red-hot?