Cleveland’s big early lead in the AL Central is slipping away

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Cleveland shocked everyone by going 18-8 in April and kept rolling through the first three weeks of May, giving the Indians an MLB-best 30-15 record as of May 23.

That put them seven games ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central and double-digit games ahead of every other team in the division, but the Indians have gone 4-11 since then–including an extra-inning loss to the Twins this afternoon–and if the Tigers win tonight that big early lead will have disintegrated from 7.0 games to 0.5 games in just two weeks.

Even at 34-26 the Indians have dramatically out-performed expectations that included many preseason predictions pegging them for fourth or even fifth place in the AL Central, but with Detroit just a game back and Chicago still lurking within striking distance manager Manny Acta will have to get things back on track in a hurry.

I’ve certainly been wrong about the Indians so far, but at this point I’d pick them to finish in third place.

Nick Burdi exits game after suffering apparent arm injury

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Pirates pitcher Nick Burdi left Monday night’s game agaisnt the Diamondbacks after appearing to seriously injure his arm. Burdi threw a 1-0 fastball to Jarrod Dyson in the top of the eighth inning and immediately grabbed at his right elbow before crumbling to the dirt on the mound. Burdi was visibly in tears on the mound. Just a heartbreaking moment. Don’t watch it if you can avoid it.

Burdi, 26, was once a top prospect in the Twins’ system. The Phillies acquired him in December 2017 in the Rule 5 draft and traded him to the Pirates that same day for international bonus slot money. Burdi underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 as well. He made his 2018 debut in mid-July after fully rehabilitating.

Burdi allowed five runs on four hits and a walk, recording just one out in Monday’s appearance. He now has a 9.35 ERA with 17 strikeouts and three walks in 8 2/3 innings on the season. It looks like he could be going on the injured list for a while, unfortunately. Hopefully, the injury isn’t anywhere near as bad as it looked. The Pirates should pass along an update on Burdi’s status by tomorrow afternoon.