AL Central Weekly: Chicago Still Leads, Liriano Shines As A Starter

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After a few weeks of AL Central updates, I’ve decided that recaps of every single game probably aren’t necessary. Plus, they make my posts way too long and my eyes want to pour blood and tears mid-way through them. Therefore, I’ve made a few minor changes to my weekly post to shorten it, make things a tad bid more interesting, and a lot less tedious to read.

Chicago: Chicago remains the leader of the AL Central after going 2-3 since Sunday. They took two of three from the Mariners last weekend and dropped two of three to Toronto before losing the first game of their interleague series against Houston.

White Sox Pitcher of the Week: Chris Sale – Sale went the full nine on Sunday as he tossed a five-hit shutout against Seattle. Sale surrendered just two runs while he struck out eight to bump his record to 7-2. It was Sale’s first complete game of the season and he’s become one of Chicago’s key players – the most earned runs he’s allowed in a start so far is three and his ERA currently sits at 2.29.

White Sox Hitter of the Week: Alex Rios – Rios has hit .417 through his last six games, which included two home runs. Rios picked up six RBIs through those six games and struck out just twice. His average now sits at .297 on the year.

Cleveland: Cleveland is currently a half game back after an overall good week. The Wahoos started out on a bad note as they dropped two to the Twins over the weekend, but they bounced back in the Motor City to take a series from the Tigers. While fans were hoping for a sweep in Detroit, Derek Lowe had another rough start for his fourth loss of the year. The team regrouped in St. Louis though, and Josh Tomlin tossed a decent eight innings to beat ex-Indian Jake Westbrook.

Tribe Pitcher of the Week: Ubaldo Jimenez – I know, I wasn’t expecting to choose him for this either. But the numbers don’t lie and in comparison to the week’s other starters, Jimenez looked pretty good. It’s no secret that Jimenez has had a bad year and he’s been under what is arguably the toughest spotlight, which has been focused on him since the trade that sent our two top pitching prospects to Colorado. Jimenez helped tame the Tigers on Tuesday as he went 6.2 innings and held Detroit to just one run on five hits and a walk. Of course, now the inevitable question is, will he implode in his next start? Find out on Sunday as he caps off the series in St. Louis.

Tribe Hitter of the Week: Matt LaPorta – Just kidding. This week’s hitter is actually Michael Brantley. Brantley is beginning to silence his doubters and through his last six games, he has hit .348. Though he struck out seven times, he also picked up seven RBIs, which included a home run. Brantley’s average is now .284 for the season.

Detroit Tigers: The 26-32 Tigers had a rough week. They fell twice to the Yankees last weekend and fell twice to Cleveland at home. They also dropped the first of their weekend series against the Reds on Friday. The bats couldn’t come alive against the Yankees and the defense remained their Achilles against Cleveland. Now, the Tigers are currently six games out of first and believe it or not, the KC Royals are just one game behind them.

Tiger Pitcher of the Week: Casey Crosby – Crosby picked up his first major league win against Cleveland on Thursday as he went just 5.1 innings but held the innings to three runs on five hits. His first outing, against the Yankees, was a rough one that resulted in a 16.20 ERA, but now his ERA has dipped to 9.35 and perhaps he’ll settle in as he has his first big league win under his belt.

Tiger Hitter of the Week: Miguel Cabrera – Cabrera hit four home runs in his last six games, resulting in nine RBIs and a .375 average on the week. This doesn’t seem to require much explanation, so I’ll just also point out that he’s hitting .321 with 13 home runs and 37 strikeouts this season.

Kansas City: The Royals are closing in on the Tigers in the rankings, but losing to the Twins isn’t going to help their cause. The Royals took two from the Athletics last weekend, but they also fell victim to the Twins and lost two before losing to the Pirates 2-4 on Friday. The offense seemed to be the problem this past week while the pitching staff managed to keep its team within games, except for in a 10-7 loss on Monday.

Royals Pitcher of the Week: Bruce Chen – Chen went seven solid on Tuesday as he shut out the Twins and held them to just four measly hits. Chen was coming off a few rougher outings against Baltimore and Cleveland, but Tuesday’s outing got him his fifth win. He’s 5-5 on the season with a 4.37 ERA.

Royals Hitter of the Week: Eric Hosmer – Hosmer was one of two Royals to hit .389 this past week. Jarrod Dyson also hit .389, but Hosmer has the edge as he also hit a home run and had four RBIs. Hosmer’s only hitting .221 this year, but he seems to find ways to hurt opponents right when it counts.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins remain in the AL Central basement as they’re 8.5 back but believe it or not, they had one of the better weeks within division. They took the series from both the Indians and the Royals and stole the first game in their series against the Cubs on Friday. The Twins may not be winning the division this year, but they’re doing a good job of ruining it for the others.

Twins Pitcher of the Week: Francisco Liriano – This is another guy I wasn’t expecting to pick, especially since he lost in his start. That being said, Liriano definitely didn’t deserve to lose on Tuesday. Bruce Chen was better, but had Liriano received some offensive support, his outing would have been more than good enough. Liriano went six innings and allowed just four hits and a run while striking out eight. It was his second start since his shift to the starting rotation from the bullpen, and so far, the change has been favorable to him as he’s pitched very well in both starts.

Twins Hitter of the Week: Trevor Plouffe – Plouffe hit .348 during his last six games, and while there were Twin hitters who hit for higher average this week, Plouffe was the one with three home runs. Plouffe now has eight longballs on the season, though he’s only hitting .198. Everyone needs their 15-seconds of game though, and Trevor, here’s yours’.

You can follow Stephanie on Twitter @SKMetzger to hear her whine about the Indians and muse about life. Also, become a fan of MTAF on Facebook.

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