Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

AL Central Watch -- April 14

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Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Designated hitter Travis Hafner, whose terrible 2008 helped lead to the once-favored Indians' demise last season, showed he was back in 2009, with three home runs and six RBI in the first week of the season. It doesn't seem to matter because the Indians' pitching has been terrible.

Indians ace Cliff Lee is far off a 20-win course. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, who went 22-3 last season, raised some eyebrowns during spring training, going 0-3 with a 12.46 ERA in six Cactus League starts. Lee thrived last season thanks to superb control. This season, location has cost him. He is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts, having allowed 17 hits and five walks in 10 innings. Keep in mind, Lee didn't lose his second decision last season until July 6. The Indians are counting on a quick rebound. His next start is Thursday against the Yankees in the opener of the new Yankee Stadium.

Fausto Carmona was the latest Indians starter to turn in a bad outing, losing to the Royals, who are off to a fast start. As old friend Paul Hoynes points out, Tribe starters are 1-5 with a 10.92 ERA. Anthony Reyes, who beat the Blue Jays, is the only starter with a victory.

The Royals entered play today tied for first place with the White Sox. They are expecting third baseman Alex Gordon back in the lineup tonight against the Indians. Meanwhile, new Royals leadoff hitter and center fielder Coco Crisp, who was on the White Sox' radar in recent years, says he is glad to be back in the AL Central.

The Twins' struggles in Toronto continued Monday night, when the Jays rallied for victory. ''That wasn't about our offense,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ''That was about our pitching.'' The Twins' starting pitchers have combined for a 2-4 record and 5.74 ERA. They have also yielded a league-high 55 hits -- seven more than the No. 2 Red Sox.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on April 14, 2009 10:12 AM.

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