When last we looked at the standings, the order of the AL Central was Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City and Minnesota.
Things have shuffled again and are definitely getting interesting. A sign that the AL Central is the worst division in baseball or that it is most competitive? You decide.
Chicago White Sox:
The Sox have been the hottest offense in all of baseball of late. The team has also finally started winning games at home. On their most recent homestand, the team went 5-1, including a sweep of the then division-leading Indians. They are briefly on the road where they so far have taken two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Sox have also hit a home run in the past 15 straight games. With that kind of offensive production, it is hard to lose games.That has been fortunate for the team as sometimes the starting pitching hasn’t been up to par. One starter who has had trouble of late has been John Danks, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder soreness.
For more on the White Sox, visit South Side Hit Girl
Recently, the Indians have been marred by injuries. Carlos Santana went on the disabled list with a concussion. Lou Marson, the other regular catcher, was hurt in a game against the White Sox. Travis Hafner is dealing with a knee injury.
Yet, manager Manny Acta says his team isn’t playing their best baseball yet. Heading into last weekend, the Indians had a 3.5 game lead over the second place team at the time, the White Sox. Unfortunately for them, they were swept in a three-game series and left with a half game lead. After last night, the Indians find themselves in second place after getting beat by division rival Kansas City as well as seeing the White Sox win their game.
Of all the teams in the AL Central, the Tigers are probably the most disappointing at the moment. They came into the season with expectations that they would run away with the AL Central crown. Instead, they have lost three games to the Indians only to sweep the Twins. While no one should count the Tigers out, it will be interesting to see what happens when the offense finally starts to put things together. Something to watch, however, is that Justin Verlander seems to be human of late. In his recent start against Red Sox, he ended up lasting only six innings and giving up five earned runs. Definitely not a performance we are used to seeing from Justin Verlander.
The Tigers have also been dealing with injuries as well. Leadoff man Austin Jackson has been out recently with an abdominal strain. While the team has been getting along without him, it is a blow when you look at the production he has had so far this season.
For more on the Tigers, visit Motown Lowdown
Kansas City Royals:
The Royals still are plugging along and still trying to get consistent play. One minute, they are beating up on power house teams and the next minute, they can’t seem to put things together to go on a decent run for themselves. Of late, they have beaten the Yankees, Orioles and Indians. But at the same time, they are losing to those teams. The team is also dealing with more injuries to pitchers and position players. Most recently, pitcher Blake Wood was put on the 60-day disabled list and Vin Mazarro was recalled from Triple-A Omaha.
There still might be time for the Royals to get things together to really make things uncomfortable for the other teams in the division. At least more so than they already make things uncomfortable for them. While they are seven games out of first place, given how things have gone so far in the division, that might not be a lot of ground to make up.
For more on the Royals, visit Drinking the Royals Blue Aid
Ah, the cellar dwellars of the AL Central. No one really expects the Twins to be serious contenders this season. Currently, they sit 10.5 games out of first place. Additionally, the team hasn’t won 20 games yet. In the past couple of weeks, they have started to put together some wins. They swept both the Indians and Tigers as well as took a series from the Brewers in interleague play. After that brief success, they seemed to run into problems with series losses to the White Sox and Tigers.
There are still problems with injuries and trying to find starting pitching. Just last week, Jason Marquis was designated for assignment and this season the Twins have ended up using a number of starters to try and put together a rotation. While trying to find starters has been difficult, they are also dealing with trying to get the hitters going as well. While a few guys are coming around, it is hard to win games when your pitchers aren’t giving you a chance.
While there are only seven games separating first from fourth place in the division, things will continue to be a race until the end. None of the top three teams in the division has decided to take a commanding lead over everyone else. Not to mention, each team has been holding its own against division rivals. This will be a race definitely worth watching this season.