AL Central may be settled before Twins and White Sox play next week

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Next week’s three-game series between the Twins and White Sox in Chicago has loomed large on the schedule for some time now, but it’s looking more and more like the American League Central may be all but settled by then.
Minnesota won last night behind another Brian Duensing gem and Chicago got shut down by Jeremy Bonderman, so now the Twins lead the division by 5.5 games with just 22/23 games left on the respective schedules.
CoolStandings.com projects the Twins to win the division 93.9 percent of the time and Baseball Prospectus has Minnesota’s odd of prevailing at 93.5 percent. In the past two seasons the AL Central has come down to a one-game playoff, but unless the Twins stumble against the Indians this weekend the 2010 drama may not even last until mid-September.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.