1. Detroit Tigers (60-45), 2. Cleveland Indians (58-48), 3. Kansas City Royals (52-51), 4. Minnesota Twins (45-58), 5. C
|Date & Time||Wednesday July 31, 2013, 12:00 AM (EDT)|
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The Detroit Tigers continue to lead the American League Central, despite Justin Verlander’s inconsistencies.
Without even having a dominant Verlander on the hill for most outings this year, the Tigers still hold a 2.5 game lead on the Cleveland Indians for the division lead. Verlander’s struggles can be tied to his decrease in fastball velocity but the veteran right hander is still an ace even if he hasn’t pitched like one this year. The biggest problem for the Tigers might be the impending loss of Jhonny Peralta to a season ending suspension once the Biogensis news comes down. Peralta has been a huge part of Detroit’s lineup this year and, despite acquiring Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox yesterday, there is still going to be a huge drop off in production if they lose Peralta. They should have more than enough offense to get by as long as Torii Hunter continues to defy age and crush fastballs hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Detroit is 8-2 over their last 10 games and after a weekend series at home against the Chicago White Sox, they’ll travel to Jacobs Field for a huge four game series with the Indians next week.
Cleveland is 7-3 over their last 10 games and are now 10 games over .500 for the year. After a lackluster start post All-Star break (losing two of three games to the Marines and Twins), the Indians rebounded with a three game sweep of the Texas Rangers and have so far taken the first two of a four game set from the White Sox. They can’t look ahead to next week’s meeting with the Tigers because they need to take advantage of this Chicago club first and then capitalize on an opportunity in Miami against the Marlins over the weekend. Ubaldo Jimenez dominated over the weekend against Texas, throwing eight innings of two hit ball in a 6-0 win. He’s been a pleasant surprise after really struggling the last two seasons. Justin Masterson has given up just three earned runs over his last three starts and leads the Indians with a 3.42 ERA in 22 starts this year.
Don’t look now, but after winning seven straight games the Kansas City Royals are now back over .500 and back in the race for a playoff spot as we head into the final two months of the season. Kansas City built on their three game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with another one against the White Sox and also won the opener of their series with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night behind another strong performance from Ervin Santana. It doesn’t look like the right-hander will be moved before the deadline and that should help the Royals because he’s been excellent all year long. Santana pitched seven innings on Tuesday night, allowing just two earned runs, walking one, and striking out eight to pick up his seventh victory of the season. James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie also dominated in their most recent starts and it’s vaulted the Royals to just five games out of a Wild Card position and seven back of the division lead.
The Twins are trying to get a look at some of their young players, but there just aren’t a lot of building blocks there. If Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau can’t be franchise type players in the middle of the lineup it’s going to be hard for the small market Twins to compete. Mauer’s hitting .326 on the year, but the power numbers aren’t really there, while Morneau is hitting .262 with similar power problems. Brian Dozier has hit more home runs than both of them, but his .231 average leaves plenty to be desired. Samuel Deduno continues to be their most consistent starter and he threw seven shutout innings against the Mariners in his last start to improve his record to 7-4 on the year. After the Twins finish up their series with the Royals, they’ll host the Houston Astros before traveling to Kansas City to take on the Royals again next week.
The White Sox are hoping that they got something of value in return for dealing Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. Avisail Garcia was acquired from Detroit in the three team trade along with other prospects but time will tell as far as whether this will work out for him. They still might move Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham, and others before Wednesday’s trade deadline and it would make sense considering they’re now 24 games under .500 on the season. Robin Ventura must be wondering why he ever wanted to manage because his first season in the Major Leagues behind the bench has been an absolute disaster. Hector Santiago has been a pleasant surprise in the rotation and Jose Quintana has been stable as well, but the White Sox just can’t hit. They’ll travel to Detroit to get beaten down this weekend before returning home to host the Yankees next week.