Are you watching the AL Central race? If not, you should be. Not only is there a question as to who will finish the season on top, but it also has implications on the AL Wild Card race. The last two weeks are going to be crazy and all AL Central teams are going to have a hand in the outcome. Just like in previous weeks, the standings haven’t changed, it is just a matter of how big the lead is at the moment. Here is what is going on in the division that has been back and forth all season long.
Chicago White Sox (81-66, Magic Number of 13)
Currently sitting atop the division, the Sox are in the midst of their final series against the Kansas City Royals. The Royals this season have given the Sox fits. So far, the Sox have lost eight of their last nine against the Royals. Not a pretty stat when you are trying to win the division. The last two weeks of the season will have the Sox facing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays (who are in wild card contention) and finally the Indians again. All of these teams will be there to play spoiler for the Sox and their chances to get a seat at the post season table.
For more on the Sox, visit South Side Hit Girl
Detroit Tigers (78-69, Three games out of first place. Tragic Number 13)
Oh the Tigers! Still suffering from the win a game and the Sox win. Lose a game and the Sox lose. Unfortunately, this didn’t play out in their final matchup of the season. Last week the Tigers met up with the Sox for the final time during the season and took two of the four games. The fourth game was made up this past Monday after a rain out last week. That game ended up being costly to the Tigers as they fell to the Sox and further behind the Sox. The pre-season and early on favorite to win the division basically showed why they are not sitting on top of the division in Monday’s game: failure to play fundamental defense. The team just played sloppy baseball and their divisional foe made sure to capitalize on it.
The next couple of weeks the Tigers will continue their series against the Athletics and then alternate between the Twins and Royals. Last night, the Tigers pounded the A’s for 12 runs so they did keep pace with the White Sox. The Athletics are in wild card contention so they want those games against the Tigers as much as the Tigers need those games to just keep up. However, the last six games could either be a trap or a blessing for them. Neither the Twins or Royals are playing for post season play so they can cause real havoc for the Tigers who have much at stake the next couple of weeks. One thing Tigers fans are concerned about is Max Scherzer. He was pulled after a couple innings with shoulder soreness and is scheduled to undergo an MRI. If he goes down, that will be a devastating blow for Detroit.
For more on the Tigers, visit Motown Lowdown
Kansas City Royals (66-81, 15 games out of first place. Tragic Number of One)
Being spoiler. That is the main role of the Royals at this point. They are playing the final series against the White Sox right now. That is a team they have owned having won 10 of the first 16 games of the season. This is also the second season in a row since 1993-1994 that the Royals have won back-to-back season series against the Sox. It is probably only a matter of time before people will truly take the Royals seriously as a threat. The team is hitting, but just lacking in the pitching department, though they have gotten some amazing pitching performances from guys like Jeremy Guthrie of late.
The Omaha Storm Chasers did lose their quest in the Triple-A playoffs which means that some of those guys can come up to play. Recent call ups include David Lough, an outfielder and pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi probably won’t start until the Royals face the Indians because manager Ned Yost doesn’t want him up against a contending team.
For more on the Royals, visit Drinking the Royals Blue Aid
Cleveland Indians (61-87, 20.5 games back. Tragic Number = ELIMINATED)
The Indians are in the middle of a series against the Minnesota Twins and they dropped the first game by a final of 6-5 in 12 innings. The team was officially eliminated from post season consideration this past Saturday night when the Sox won against the Twins. The Indians are coming off a weekend series in which they lost two of three against the Tigers. That one win they got however was huge in that it put the Tigers down three games in the AL Central race. In the last two weeks of the season, the Indians will see the Sox six times and will not see the Tigers anymore. While the Indians have not fared well against the Sox this season, they could reek some major havoc given that all they have to do now is play out the string. There are plenty of guys with something to prove heading into next season and the best way to do it is against a contending team.
Minnesota Twins (61-87, 20.5 games back. Tragic Number = ELIMINATED)
Just like the Indians, the Twins were officially eliminated from post season play this past Saturday, thanks to a loss to the division White Sox. Right now, the Twins are in a battle for the cellar with the Indians. Both teams have identical records and are currently in a series facing each other. After that series wraps, the Twins will host face the Tigers and then host the Yankees and Tigers. They will close out the season against the Blue Jays. With six remaining games against the Tigers, the Twins are in a prime position to make life miserable for the Tigers, who will desperately need those wins. The match up between the Twins and Tigers has been in favor of the Tigers so far this season. But with a post season seat on the line, you just never know what will happen.
With upcoming games among the teams in the AL Central, it will be a fun two weeks of baseball to watch. And who knows, there might be some game 163s on the schedule for the American League.