The American League Central has bunched up because of the Tigers’ struggles, so every team is thinking it has a shot. The White Sox took two of three games from Detroit last week and believe they can contend for the title.
“We have a lot of mediocre teams this year,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said. “I would expect some separation in the second half, but wouldn’t it be great if everybody is .500 going into the last week of the season?”
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The Royals have had a hard time offensively. But they moved over .500 on Wednesday with a 4-1 victory over Cleveland, with all four runs scoring on sacrifice flies.
“I’d be lying to tell you it doesn’t mean anything to get over .500, because it does,” manager Ned Yost said. “It’s a big thing.”
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The Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall lost his third base job to Carlos Santana before the season but has sort of won it back. Batting .384 will do that.
Chisenhall, a lefthanded hitter, entered Saturday 14-for-29 against lefthanders. He was batting .429 in June, .413 on the road and .400 with runners in scoring position.
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Former Twins star Joe Nathan is struggling big time with the Tigers. He entered Saturday having given up 10 earned runs over his past six appearances, and he gave up an unearned run Friday in a rough ninth inning against the Twins.
“Like I said, we need Joe Nathan to be our closer,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He’ll work through this. I’m not concerned about him. He’s a professional. He and [pitching coach Jeff Jones] are looking at video and talking to find any little mechanical flaw that could be the root cause of this. He will get it ironed out. We need him to get it ironed out.’’