The Minnesota Twins remain atop the AL Central board this week, playing some tremendous baseball and keeping the Cleveland Indians just out of reach of the number one spot. However, not everything is the same as it has been the last couple of weeks. Though the Twins and Indians remain atop the central standings, the Chicago White Sox have now moved into third place, knocking the Detroit Tigers down to fourth. Kansas City rounded out the top five, yet again.
This is obviously not ideal news for Tigers fans, who had hoped they might jump ahead in the standings by facing the White Sox over four games this weekend. It wasn’t meant to be.
As we approach June, the question for teams below .500, like the White Sox, Tigers, and Royals, now becomes one of selling. Do the teams hold, or do they decide to sell off big name players in the hope of preparing for a better 2018?
AL Central Standings: May 29, 2017
|Chicago White Sox||23||26||0.469||4.5|
|Kansas City Royals||21||28||0.429||6.5|
Minnesota Twins: 26-20
The next two weeks will seriously test the Twins. First they’ll face off against the Houston Astros, arguably the best team in the AL right now. Then they begin a west coast road trip, where they’ll see the Los Angeles Angels, the Seattle Mariners, and the San Francisco Giants. West coast trips can be notoriously taxing for teams, so this will be a real opportunity for the Twins to prove they have what it takes to win the season.
Joe Mauer continues to be dominant. For a guy who is approaching the end of his career, it’s nice to see he’s still got some pop in his bat. There weren’t many offensive stars this week. Sano struggled against the Orioles, and the usual suspects of Dozier and Kepler performed well, but no one dazzled per se.
What was dazzling, and has been a huge contribution to the Twins’ success, was their defense. Twinkie Town did an incredibly thorough look at with the Twins’ defense is among the best in baseball right now.
Up Next: vs. Astros, @ Angels
Cleveland Indians: 25-23
This might be a great week ahead for the Indians, especially if the Twins have any difficulties with the Astros or the other west coast teams. Cleveland will be facing the 22-27 Oakland Athletics, and the struggling Royals, two teams they will hope to crush and potentially reclaim the number one spot.
The Indians are not performing the way most expected them to. They lost both of their last two series, winning only one game in each, though Sunday’s win against the Royals was a pretty decisive 10-1 victory, which the Indians are hoping to ride into the week.
First, let’s talk Josh Tomlin, who through the tremendous winning game against the Royals on Sunday, holding Kansas City to a mere one run over a complete game. Other champs in the Indians camp this week? Michael Brantley, who is currently on a 12-game hitting streak. The Indians will also be thrilled to see the return of Corey Kluber, who is expected to be back with the team this Thursday against the Royals.
Not a winner? Danny Salazar, who will be moving into a relief role after a poor showing against the Royals last week. The not-so-rally squirrel may be to blame for all this bad luck, as Let’s Go Tribe theorized.
Up Next: vs. Athletics, @ Royals
Chicago White Sox: 23-26
Sox vs. Sox may prove to be difficult for Chicago. Monday they will have to contend with the return of David Price, Tuesday they’ll face their former ace Chris Sale, and Wednesday will see Mike Pelfrey duke it out with Drew Pomeranz. It’s going to be tough for the White Sox. Then they’ll head to Detroit, where the Tigers will be hungry to claw back some games after the beating the White Sox doled out this past weekend.
After losing their series to the Diamondbacks last week, the White Sox needed a boost on confidence, which they got by crushing the Tigers in three of four games. Mike Pelfrey, who the Tigers are still paying, was able to get a win against his former club.
We won’t dwell too much on the brutal four-game series against the Tigers, since most readers of this blog know how that panned out. It’s worth noting however, than in addition to Mike Pelfrey, who collected seven strikeouts, Miguel Gonzales had a perfect game going on Sunday through six innings. This is a great sign for a team who has struggled to fill out a five-man rotation all season. Add Tyler Danish to the list, who was scoreless through five innings in his first start of the season.
Loser of the week is Tyler Saladino, whose mustache couldn’t save him from being placed on the disabled list. Hoping to prove himself in Saladino’s place is Adam Engel, who will be making his major league debut with the team this week. Hopefully he does better than Jacob May.
Up Next: vs. Red Sox, @ Tigers
Kansas City Royals: 21-28
The Royals continue their mighty struggles, and managed to eke out three wins in six games last week, taking two out of three from the Indians, surprisingly enough. The trouble for the Royals will be the determination they’re going to see this week against two teams desperate to get a leg up in the standings. Both the Indians and the Tigers want wins and want them badly, and this week will test what the Royals have to offer.
Jorge Bonifacio is picking up speed offensively, nailing his seventh home run of the season — better than some of the “star” players — and scoring the only run for the Royals on Sunday. Brandon Moss is also starting to look a lot better, which the Royals Review took an in depth look at this past week.
Eric Hosmer might need to have his mouth washed out with soap before facing the Indians again. Pretty amazing this hasn’t happened to Justin Upton yet this season.
Up Next: vs. Tigers, vs. Indians