Some felt that the Cleveland Indians were in position to turn the corner this season after going 80-82 in 2011. They were supposed to be healthy, and they had Ubaldo Jimenez to anchor the rotation.
After they spent 40 days in first place, the season became a disaster.
Grady Sizemore missed the season. Travis Hafner had back problems. And several players underperformed, especially Jimenez, who pitched like an ace when he was with Colorado but like a No. 5 starter with the Indians. Cleveland went 5-24 in August.
So Manny Acta has been fired, and Sandy Alomar Jr. has been named interim skipper. He's a familiar face in Cleveland, but the influence he has in the clubhouse will be more important than being a former Indians player. Cleveland players looked lethargic late in the season, which was a poor reflection on Acta. Alomar has to change the clubhouse culture.
And General Manager Chris Antonetti is under fire for moves that haven't worked.
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The White Sox spent 59 days in first place before slipping into second on Wednesday following a loss to Cleveland. After beating the Twins 9-2 on Sept. 16, the Sox scored more than four runs just twice in their next 10 games. They lost seven of those games. "We had our chances, Detroit has had their chances," White Sox righthander Jake Peavy said. "We didn't capitalize on them. It all comes down to this. Let's find out where we stand. I'm excited.''
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The Royals' Alex Gordon led major league outfielders last season with 20 assists. Jeff Francoeur, through Wednesday, leads this season with 19. According to the Sports Features Group, they would be the first teammates to lead in that category in back-to-back seasons since Boston's Tris Speaker and Harry Hooper in 1909-10.