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Central Intelligence: The Tigers help the Twins reach the top

There’s not much distance between the top three spots, though.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Make no mistake: there are no runaway winners in the AL Central right now. Yes, the Twins are on top, but largely because they have not played as many games as the Indians or Tigers. No team in the AL Central has more than eight wins at the moment. While they are certainly not the worst division in the American League (that nod can go to the AL East, where only the Tampa Bay Rays seem interested in a winning season, presently), things don’t look great in the Central.

Minnesota Twins (8-4)

The Twins had a remarkably light week this past week, playing only four games total. Frst they split their series against the visiting New York Mets, before they welcomed the Tigers into town for what was meant to be a three-game series. Mother Nature had other plans in mind — as she often does in spring — and the Friday game was preemptively cancelled due to impending snow (insert “get a dome!” calls here). The Twins “swept” the abbreviated two-game series.

This coming week will see the Blue Jays come to down for three games, followed by a visit to Baltimore to play the Orioles for three games. The Jays have struggled on the road significantly this year so far, with a 1-5 record, and the Twins have done almost as well at home, winning 4-1. The Orioles, on the other hand have struggled at home, with a 1-6 record, meaning the Twins might be in for a very good week ahead.

Up Next: vs Blue Jays (3 games); @ Orioles (3 games)

Cleveland Indians (8-7)

For a team that seemed poised to easily take the division, the Indians have struggled early against their AL competition. This past week they faced the Tigers and won the series two games to one, but then they headed to Kansas City where they were swept by the Royals in a three-game series, including one shutout game.

The week ahead won’t offer much kindness. First it’ll be a trip to the west coast to face off against the Mariners who have no intention of yielding their first place position in the AL West. The Mariners are 5-4 at home right now, but the advantage is still theirs with the Indians an uninspiring 3-6 on the road. Then they’ll return home to play host to the Atlanta Braves for a three-game weekend series. The Braves are 7-3 over their last 10 games, but they have faltered a little on the road this season, with a 2-3 record. The Indians could take advantage of that.

Up Next: @ Mariners (3 games); vs Braves (3 games)

Detroit Tigers (8-7)

The week’s AL Central heavy schedule didn’t do the Tigers many favors this week. They dropped two series in a row, the first losing two of three to the Indians, and then heading to Minneapolis, where the series was shortened by snow and then the Twins won the remaining two games.

They’ll have a busy week ahead facing their interleague rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates for a two-game series. The Pirates are on a winning streak, going 7-3 in their last 10 games, but they’re 4-4 on the road, so the Tigers might have some luck there. As for the weekend, the Tigers will face the White Sox in a four-game series at home. The White Sox aren’t doing terribly, but also not awesome, pretty much on-par stats wise with the Tigers over the last stretch of games, so it’ll be an opportunity for one of the two clubs to potentially push ahead in the standings.

Up Next: vs Pirates (2 games); vs White Sox (4 games)

Chicago White Sox (5-9)

Speaking of the White Sox, they had a mixed bag of luck against the AL East last week. First they hosted the Tampa Bay Rays for a three-game series, and were handily swept by the division leaders. Then they visited the Yankees, who were expected to be the division leaders. Not so much. The White Sox won that series two games to one.

This coming week is all about the Central for them as well (sensing a trend here). First they’ll see the Royals come to town for a three-game set. The Royals have yet to win a single game on the road, so the Sox could be in luck there. Then they’ll head to Detroit for the aforementioned four-game series this weekend.

Up Next: vs Royals (3 games); @ Tigers (4 games)

Kansas City Royals (5-10)

If the Mariners recent visit to Kansas City is any indication of what the Indians can expect this week... well... it’s bad. The Mariners swept the Royals in a four-game series and were not particularly subtle about it, starting the week off with a 13-5 victory. The Royals were then swept a second time in a three-game series against the Indians. This coming week they’d probably just like to win a game.

They’ll need to do it either against the White Sox, or when they head to New York to play a four-game series against the Yankees. The Yankees are actually only 3-6 at home right now, so although the Royals haven’t won an away game yet, they might have some luck against the Yankees.

Up Next: @ White Sox (3 games); @ Yankees (4 games)