Ah, the AL Central. Viewed by most as the weakest division in baseball. Yet, now that we are in the dog days of the season or quickly approaching them, this is probably the division that folks will be paying attention to see what will happen.
Not much has changed in terms of who sits atop the division. The Tigers and White Sox continue to be the top dogs. It is just a matter of how big the lead is. The big surprise? Cleveland isn’t in third place chasing anymore. No, that honor has moved to a different team that many probably didn’t see being in that place. As for the cellar, well at the beginning of the season, everyone thought it would be the Twins. And so far, they have delivered hanging out in last place. Here is what is happening with each team.
Chicago White Sox (67-55)
The White Sox continue to play well and, when they don’t, have luck on their side. In the past 10 days, they actually won a series in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Something the team hadn’t done in quite some time. Then they got swept for the second time this season at their new house of horrors, Kauffman Stadium by the Royals. Despite the sweep, they really didn’t lose much ground in the standing. The team did have a 2.5 game lead, but thanks to other teams, they only lost half a game due to an idle day by the Tigers as well as finally playing up to potential.
For more on the White Sox, visit South Side Hit Girl
Detroit Tigers (65-57, Two games back, 1.5 back in Wild Card)
The Tigers just can’t seem to catch a break. Despite the ridiculous play of Miguel Cabrera (an MVP candidate for sure), the Tigers just can’t close the gap between themselves and the White Sox. When the Sox lose, the Tigers tend to lose. When they win, the Sox win. So the Tigers will keep plugging away. Lately, they have lost series to the Rangers and Orioles. Though they rightly took a series from the Twins. Before this, the Tigers split with the Yankees. This resulting in playing below .500 in the last 10 games.
For more on the Tigers, visit Motown Lowdown
Kansas City Royals (55-67, 12 games back 11.5 back in Wild Card)
The Royals have been playing quite well lately. So well in fact that they have been playing the best of the AL Central teams of late. They also get to play spoiler to the Tigers and White Sox who are both looking for post season bids. In their past 10 games, the Royals have gone 7-3 including a sweep of the first place White Sox. They are getting really good pitching from the starters, including Jeremy Guthrie, which is nice considering that he is essentially the final piece the team got in the Melky Cabrera trade. The Royals definitely made out on that one. Recently, second baseman Chris Getz had his season end with a broken thumb he got in a failed bunt attempt against the White Sox. Now, Johnny Giavotella has the chance to really show what he can do and why he should be playing second base for the team in the future.
For more on the Royals, visit Drinking the Royals Blue Aid
Cleveland Indians (54-69, 13.5 back, 13 back in Wild Card)
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Just a month ago, the Indians were still potentially in the playoff hunt. Then they fell on hard times losing at one point 11 games in a row. Lately, of their last 10 games, the Indians have won only two of them. A potential positive? Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, finally made his season debut recently. That outing was pretty rough when he gave up eight runs in six innings, including a five-run second inning. However, manager Manny Acta liked that his velocity was where it had been in the past. Hernandez’s second outing was last night and while it was a lot better, it still left a lot to be desired. It is probably a safe bet to say that unless the Indians go on a ridiculous run and both the Tigers and White Sox falter, they won’t be much of a factor in the AL Central race, except to play spoiler for the Tigers and White Sox.
Minnesota Twins (51-71, 16 games back, 15.5 back in Wild Card)
For most of the season, the Twins have been hovering near the cellar in the AL Central. Occasionally they’ve been able to move into fourth, but for the most part the team has been a non-factor in the divisional race. In general, the season has not been one that has been especially fruitful for fans. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have both not been very productive. Of course, the biggest problem the team has faced has been in finding starting pitching. If you look at their starting rotation, there is really on one name, Brian Duensing, that people will know who that is. As for the rest, they’ve been guys called to duty this season with the rash of injuries to the starters. One guy who has been a bright spot for the Twins is Cole De Vries. So far, Cole has been giving the Twins a chance. For the most part, he has gone five innings, but in a recent start against the Rays, he only lasted 1.1 innings where he gave up eight runs. It was by far his worst outing of his young career.
The Twins are still struggling to find consistent players. Recently they outrighted pitcher Nick Blackburn and infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka. They also had traded third baseman Danny Valencia to the Red Sox for outfielder Jeremias Pineda. While many thought the team would have been busier at the trade deadline, they were relatively quiet. But there is still time for them to make a deal for a couple of their outfielders, namely Denard Span or Ben Revere.