Dugout Digest – the back and forth AL Central

On June 1st, the Chicago White Sox looked like a runaway frieght train in the AL Central. They had a 30-22 record, were a game and a half up on the Cleveland Indians, and six up on the highly hyped Detroit Tigers. The White Sox also had a +40 run differential, the best in the division by 51 runs over the Tigers and second best in the AL. It's now June 20th, and the White Sox are half a game behind the Indians, and just a game and a half ahead of the Tigers. Chicago has a 5-11 record this month, and their run differential has dropped to +28, still the best in the division, but less than 35 runs better than the Tigers. The Sox still have the highest playoff expectancy in the division at 65.4%, but they've lost their supposed vicegrip on the division.

Game of the Night: Blue Jays 10, Brewers 9. What in the hell has gotten into the exciting Milwaukee Brewers lately? Anyway, Jesse Chavez got a spot start for the Blue Jays last night, and got completely blown out of the water: 2 2/3 innings, three hits, four runs, four walks, four strikeouts, and an early trip to the showers. But before Milwaukee's third inning outburst against Chavez, the Blue Jays had taken a two run lead on a two-run homer by Brett Lawrie. Anyway, the game remained 4-2 until the sixth, when Toronto hit three straight solo homers by Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion, before adding a fourth run on an RBI single from JP Arencibia to make it a 6-4 game. The Brewers then regained the lead with five in the bottom of the innings, thanks to a bases loaded walk from Ryan Braun and a grand slam from Aramis Ramirez to make it a 9-6 Brewers lead. Toronto scored a pair in the seventh to make it 9-8, but still trailed by that score going into the ninth. Brewers closer John Axford was on the hill, and he continued his season of struggles by allowing back to back homers to Rasmus and Bautista to hand Toronto the lead. Casey Janssen finished the game in the ninth, and that sealed the deal for the Blue Jays.

Pitching Lines of the Night: Jake Peavy threw a complete game in the White Sox 2-1 loss to the Cubs, giving up five hits, two runs (one earned), while walking one batter and striking out five. Luke Hochevar actually had a good start as the Royals beat the Astros 2-0, throwing 7 2/3 shutout innings while allowing five hits, four walks, and six strikeouts. Brandon McCarthy was great in Oakland's 3-0 win over the Dodgers, shutting LA out over seven innings and giving up just two hits, walking one and striking out five.

Hitting Lines of the Night: The Red Sox beat the Marlins 7-5, but you can't fault Logan Morrison, who went 3/4 with two doubles, a homer, and five RBI. The aforementioned Jose Bautista went 2/4 with three runs scored, a walk, and two homers for the Blue Jays, while his teammate Colby Rasmus had a pair of solo homers. Andrew McCutchen continued to be a dominant player, carrying the Pirates to a 7-2 win over the Twins. McCutchen went 3/4 with two RBI, a walk, a double, and a homer. The Rangers routed the Padres 7-2, and third baseman Adrian Beltre went 3/4 with two runs, two RBI, a double, and a homer. The Angels beat the Giants 12-5, thanks to a trio of players: Mark Trumbo, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. Trumbo went 3/5 with two runs, five RBI, and a triple, and Pujols went 2/3 with two runs, four RBI, two walks, and a homer. As for Trout…well, he went 4/4 with a walk, two doubles, and four runs scored. Typical Mike Trout game. Oh, and remember Ichiro? He went 4/5 with two runs, two RBI, and a double in Seattle's 12-9 win in ten over Arizona. Yup, the Diamondbacks still can't get to the .500 mark.

Spotlight Series: The Rays beat the Nationals 5-4, but the bigger story coming out of this game may have been the Joel Peralta incident in the eighth inning. As for the game itself, the teams traded a run in the first inning, and the Nationals took a 2-1 lead in the second on an Ian Desmond homer. The Rays answered with four in the third, highlighted by a two-run Carlos Pena homer and a two-run Eliot Johnson double. That led to a short night for Washington starter Chien-Ming Wang, who lasted for just ten outs while giving up five runs, walking three, and striking out just one. Ross Detwiler, who Wang replaced in the rotation, threw 3 2/3 hitless, walkless innings, and the only baserunner he allowed came when he plunked Pena. The Nationals would make it a game courtesy of a two-run Michael Morse homer in the sixth, but went down quietly over the game's final three innings to finish it off. Tomorrow's game will pit Stephen Strasburg against Chris Archer, who will be making his major league debut for the Rays. Archer is replacing Jeremy Hellickson, who was placed on the DL with shoulder fatigue.

Other Games: Cole Hamels dominated the Rockies in a 7-2 win for the Phillies. The Indians beat the Reds 3-2 in ten on a walkoff homer by Asdrubal Cabrera off of Aroldis Chapman. The Tigers beat the Cardinals 6-3, and while Justin Verlander wasn't great, he's still damn good. The Braves beat the Yankees 4-3 to break their ten game winning streak. The Mets shut out the Orioles 5-0 behind another great start from Johan Santana. 

Today's Games: Tommy Hanson takes on Phil Hughes in a matinee game in the Bronx. Justin Masterson starts for the Indians against the Reds. Yu Darvish starts for the Rangers in San Diego…that could be ugly. Erik Bedard will take on Francisco Liriano as the Pirates host the Twins. Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants travel to Anaheim to take on CJ Wilson and the Angels.

Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.