May-hem: A look at the last month

If April was about storming out of the gates for the Indians, and trying to create an early gap between themselves and the rest of the division, May was about keeping their heads above water.

Three starters spent time on the disabled list. Mitch Talbot and Carlos Carrasco are back from their respective elbow issues, but prospect Alex White, who filled in admirably, is still out with a right middle finger injury.

The offense absorbed some blows, too. Grady Sizemore — fresh off a 10-month rehab tour from left knee surgery — banged up his right knee and was shelved for two weeks. Travis Hafner took a mighty hack during batting practice in Chicago, and will be out for at least a couple more weeks.

The hits to the rotation and offense made for a month that included plenty of ups, but also some downs. That’s bound to happen throughout 162 games. No team is immune to slumps. Cleveland can at least count itself fortunate that it really did not lose any ground in the division during its recent rough patch.

Now the calendar flips to June and the Indians remain atop the Central.

Earlier this month, manager Manny Acta summed things up this way: “We’re just trying to keep it in perspective that if you win 15 games a month, you’re in pretty good shape. Right now, we’ve got the first two months covered.”

A franchise-record 18 wins came in an amazing and memorable April. Cleveland followed that up with 14 trips to victory lane in May. That’s 32 wins through two months — just over Acta’s goal pace.

And he’s not wrong in his thinking. If the Indians were to average 15 wins per month, that’s a 90-win season. Over the past decade, it’s taken 92 wins on average to claim the Central crown. Two years ago, 87 wins did the trick.

Here’s a glance at the past month as we head into June…

Offense:

108 runs — 12th in the AL
214 hits — 13th in the AL
48 doubles — 9th in the AL
18 HR — t-13th in the AL
105 RBIs — t-12th in the AL
.248 average — 11th in the AL
.314 on-base — 11th in the AL
.380 slugging — 10th in the AL
.694 OPS — 11th in the AL
328 total bases — 13th in the AL

Pitching:

14 wins — 10th in the AL
4.05 ERA — 11th in the AL
3.25 bullpen ERA — 5th in AL
4.42 starters ERA — 13th in AL
1.312 WHIP — 8th in the AL
8-10 — starter’s combined record

Defense:

16 errors (made 13 in April)
12 unearned runs (3 in April)

The Ledger:

Record at home: 7-4
Record on the road: 7-8

Bastian’s May Awards:

Player of the Month: Asdrubal Cabrera
Comment: Cabby gets the nod as my Player of the Month for the second month in a row. And, why not? The man is playing like an All-Star. In May, the Indians shortstop hit .330/.372/.575 with a team-high five homers and 19 RBIs. He mixed in seven doubles and a pair of triples along the way. Vote early and vote often. Cabrera deserves a spot on the All-Star squad.

Pitcher of the Month: Josh Tomlin
Comment: He was the co-Pitcher of the Month for April and Tomlin continued to be solid in what was a turbulent May for the pitching staff. The right-hander went 2-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts with 16 strikeouts and only two walks over 32 2/3 innings. A 0.888 WHIP for the month? Sign me up for that every five days.

Reliever of the Month: Tony Sipp
Comment: In 10 1/3 innings, all Mr. Sipp did was go 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA, striking out seven and walking one. He has been a reliable left-handed setup man for closer Chris Perez. The trio of Sipp, Rafael Perez and Vinnie Pestano have, statistically, made for the best eighth-nning production in the league.

Rookie of the Month: Vinnie Pestano
Comment: Once again, this is sort of by default. But, hey, Josh “Judge” Judy and Ezequiel “Air” Carrera did make their debuts in May. White also added some rookie flavor to the rotation. But Pestano continued to be a force in the eighth inning, striking out 12 in nine innings of work for the month. He had a 2.00 ERA and had a WHIP of 1.000.

Comeback Player of the Month: Chad Durbin
Comment: Lots of love for the bullpen in this month’s wrap-up. But, that’s because the Tribe’s relief corps was the best aspect of the roster throughout May. The offense and rotation was inconsistent. The bullpen essentially maintained its production from April. Durbin bounced back after a rough first month, though. In 10 May appearances, the veteran went 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA, amassing 12 strikeouts and only two walks over 12 2/3 innings.

Plays of the Month:

1. May 19: The Flip – It came in a loss to the White Sox, but the defensive wizardry turned in by Cabrera might hold up as baseball’s web gem of the year. In the eighth inning in Chicago, Omar Vizquel (how fitting) chopped a pitch up the middle. The baseball glanced off the glove of pitcher Joe Smith and shot to Cabrera’s left. The shortstop’s only play was to reach back and stab at the ball with his bare hand. He did that, and so much more. In one motion, Cabrera grabbed the baseball, dropped to his knees and flipped it behind his back to second baseman Adam Everett. As surprised as anyone else, Everett caught the ball and fired it to first for an unbelievable double play.

Want to watch it? CLICK HERE.

2. May 20: The Drag – Bottom of the eighth inning, Indians and Reds caught in a 4-4 deadlock. Shin-Soo Choo triples with two outs. After an intentional walk to Carlos Santana, Acta calls upon Carrera — promoted from Triple-A that day — to pinch hit. Zeke shocked just about everyone in the stadium when he used a perfectly-executed drag-bunt single to plate Choo. The Indians won 5-4 and Carrera’s first career hit is one he’ll never forget.

3. May 21: The Buck Shot – Tomlin and Homer Bailey locked horns for six scoreless innings in Cleveland before Travis Buck, filling in as the No. 5 hitter and DH for an injured Hafner, played hero for a day. After going 0-for-2 in his first two at-bats, and getting an earful from Acta in the dugout, Buck drilled a two-run homer in the seventh that proved to be the difference in a 2-1 win over the Reds.

4. May 23: The Ejection – In the eighth inning against the Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury was ruled saffe on a close play at first base. Indians pitcher Just Masterson clumsily stepped around the bag before hitting it with his foot, but the umpire deemed the base missed before Ellsbury reached. Acta ran out from the dugout and argued the call — a move that his players and the fans in Cleveland enjoyed seeing. Acta was ejected and chants of “Manny! Manny!” rained down as he left the field. Cleveland then scored twice in the eighth to claim a 3-2 win.

Quote of the Month:

“Hopefully people will keep taking us for granted. That’d be nice.” –Indians infielder Adam Everett

–JB

1 Comment

Jane,Gardner would certainly be a chepear option, but I’m still not convinced he can hit at the major-league level.At least he’d take more pitches than Cameron would.

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