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.

Mariners to hire Tim Laker as their hitting coach

Mariners
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Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that the Mariners plan to hire Tim Laker as their new hitting coach. He’ll replace Edgar Martinez, who has moved into a different role with the club.

Laker has spent the past spent the past two years as the Arizona Diamondbacks assistant hitting coach. Before that he was a coach and manager in the minor league systems of the Indians and White Sox. He, of course, also spent 11 seasons in the Majors as a catcher, playing for the Indians, Expos, Devil Rays, Pirates and Orioles.