AL-NL Central: Tightest Races in MLB

Andrew GodfreyCorrespondent IMay 15, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 26:  Zach Greinke #23 and Tony Pena Jr. #1 of the Kansas City Royals share a laugh prior to a game against the Detroit Tigers on April 26, 2009 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)

AL Central

The AL Central division starts today with the Detroit Tigers one percentage point ahead of the Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins despite having lost their last three games. The Royals have hit a bad patch themselves with a six-game losing streak while the Twins are the only team in the division with a winning record in their last ten games.

The Tigers had won a three-game series over the Indians last weekend before they traveled to Minnesota and were swept in a three-game series by the Twins who scored 26 runs against the Tigers.

On May 1, the  Chicago White Sox reached the high point of their season with a 12-10 record. Since then they have been 3-8. Mark Buehrle is still the only White Sox starter to record a win in May with the month almost half over. Bartolo Colon is the only other starter with a win since April 22 when won his April 28 start.

Still the White Sox are only two games behind the first place Tigers and even the Cleveland Indians are still in the race with them being four and a half games behind the Tigers. However they need to win eight in a row just to return to playing .500 baseball so they can’t be taken too seriously at this point.

Who would have thought that a month and a half into the season that Carl Pavano with a 3-3 record would have only one less win than Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona who are 4-9 combined?


Friday Schedule

The first place Tigers travel to Oakland and will send Edwin Jackson to the mound to start against Dallas Braden.

Zack Greinke will try for his seventh win of the season and try to stop the six-game losing streak of the Royals as they host Adam Eaton and the Orioles.

Francisco Liriano and the Twins travel to New York to play the Yankees. Liriano has won his last two starts and will be facing Phillip Hughes who has allowed 11 runs in his last five-and-two-thirds innings over his last two starts.

The White Sox travel to Toronto to take on the first place Blue Jays of the AL East. John Danks 2-2 who is coming off a 10 strikeout game in which he didn’t receive the decision will be facing Brett Cecil 1-0.


NL Central


The Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals are tied for first place in the NL Central division with identical 21-14 records. The Brewers have been 8-2 in their last 10 games while the Cardinals were 4-6 in that span.

The Brewers were 4-9 on April 21 but have rebounded with a 17-5 record since then. Meanwhile, the Cardinals were 17-7 on May 1 yet have been 4-7 since then. Joel Pineiro was 4-0 on April 27 but is now 4-3 and hitters are hitting .315 against him this season.

The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds are tied for second with both teams a half-game behind the Brewers and Cardinals. The Cubs were 10-11 on April 30 but since then they have played 10-3 baseball. They are winning despite Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano being on the disabled list.

They are playing well even with Mike Fontenot hitting .218, Milton Bradley and Derrek Lee hitting .194 and 2008 Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto hitting .188. However, Bradley has a current seven game hitting streak and seems to be ready to hit the way the Cubs expected him to hit.

Willy Taveras hitting .322 and stealing 10 bases has been a difference maker for the Reds. With Taveras setting the table Jay Bruce and Joey Votto seem on the brink of having breakout seasons. Votto is leading the NL in batting average with a .374 mark.

Bronson Arroyo despite a 7.02 ERA leads the Reds in wins with five. Johnny Cueto is 4-1 after a 9-14 season in 2008. Aaron Harang is 3-3 after a 6-17 record last season. Micah Owings 3-3 is also pitching better than his 6-9 record of last season. Edinson Volquez has pitched better lately after having control problems in some of his earlier starts.

The third place Houston Astros are only four-and-a-half games out of first place. They should play even better when Lance Berkman with a .209 average starts to hit like he did last season when he hit .312.


Friday Schedule

The winner of the Brewers-Cardinals game will move into first place with Yovani Gallardo 4-1 taking the mound against Kyle Lohse 3-2.

Randy Wells of the Cubs will get the start as he replaces Carlos Zambrano as the Cubs play the Astros who will send Brian Moehler to the mound.

Aaron Harang will try for his fourth win of the season when the Reds travel to San Diego to play the Padres and face Kevin Correia on the mound.


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