July 2013

Covering the Bases: Game 93

712KluberFinal: Indians 3, Royals 0

FIRST: Cool Corey Kluber has received two consecutive standing ovations from the Progressive Field faithful. He walked off to rousing cheers after his outing against the Tigers on Sunday and he did so again on Friday night after blanking the Royals.

As Kluber walked to the dugout in the eighth inning, the cheers grew louder and the young pitcher kept his composure. No smile, hat tip or wave. Just another trip back to the bench to watch the bullpen attempt to nail down the victory.

“He’s a pretty composed kid,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Cool, calm and collected. That describes Kluber in the clubhouse (Klubhouse?) and lately it sums up his performance on the mound. The best example on Friday came in the fifth inning, when Kansas City loaded the bases with one out for Alex Gordon.

Sound familiar?

Three outings ago, Kluber slipped into a bases-loaded jam with one out in the fifth inning for Gordon, and then fell behind the batter, 3-0. The next pitch, which everyone figured would be a fastball, was promptly placed over the wall for a grand slam. Kluber had that experience in mind this time around after working ahead, 2-0, and then throwing three balls to run the count full.

“I had a pretty good idea he was looking for a fastball away,” Kluber explained, “because that’s pretty much what we had stuck with to that point. So, my thinking is kind of, ‘If I can throw the curveball for a strike, great, but make it look like a fastball so he might recognize that early.’ I guess, I learned from the last time I faced him with the bases loaded.”

Kluber spun an 84-mph curve, which Gordon swung through for a strikeout. Eric Hosmer followed by beating a 2-2 curve into the ground for an inning-ending out, which Kluber retired himself with a scoop of the grounder and a sprint to first base. Overall, Kluber logged 7.2 innings, during which he allowed no runs on three hits with eight strikeouts and three walks.

Over his past dozen starts, Kluber has gone 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA (16th among American League starters in that span), a 1.16 WHIP (tied-16th), a 4.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio (10th), 9.17 strikeouts per nine innings (seventh), 74 strikeouts (fifth), 16 walks and 72.2 innings (tied-sixth).

Considering one of the stats I posted in my previous entry on Kluber, I looked to see how many sinkers he logged, according to the PitchFX data. Naturally, he hit the magic 48 on the nose. So, to update my stat from the last post, Kluber is now 4-2 with a 2.49 in nine starts featuring 48 or more sinkers, and he’s 2-3 with a 7.76 ERA in the five starts with fewer than 48 sinkers. That excludes his relief and rain-shortened games.

SECOND: Kluber got all the support he needed when the Indians pieced together a three-run rally in the seventh inning (after Royals lefty Bruce Chen bowed out following six shutout innings of one-hit ball). Cleveland had five straight hits, including a two-run, pinch-hit double from Michael Bourn.

Within the rally was a stunning contribution from Mark Reynolds.

With runners on first and second base with no outs, Reynolds squared up at the last second and bunted a pitch from reliever Aaron Crow. It was perfectly placed to the left of the mound and bounced into no-man’s land. Reynolds reached with an unlikely infield single to set the stage for Bourn.

When did Reynolds think to bunt?

“Right as he was in his wind-up,” Reynolds said. “I was thinking about it. I was like, ‘What the heck? I’ll try it.’ And then it worked out for me. I just wanted to do something positive. I figured worst case, I get the guys to second and third and we get the chance to score some more runs.”

Reynolds said it felt good to come through like that given his recent struggles. When he stepped up to the plate for that at-bat, he was mired in droughts of 2-for-35 (.057), 14-for-89 (.157), 23-for-143 (.161), 32-for-189 (.169) and 37-for-210 (.176). That last sample dates back to May 4. Reynolds might be the Tribesman in most need of the All-Star break.

THIRD: With closer Chris Perez unavailable due to his recent work load, Cody Allen got the nod with a 3-0 lead in the ninth inning. Sidearmer Joe Smith escaped a one-on, two-out jam with one pitch in the eighth that created a groundout from Billy Butler. Allen notched the save after escaping a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the ninth.

Between the two hits and one walk he allowed, Allen struck out the side in his second save of the season. That upped his first-half total to 52 strikeouts in just 39.2 innings. That puts Allen in some rare company in terms of first-half performances by Indians relievers.

Most strikeouts in a first half by an Indians reliever since 1916
1. Sid Monge (1979): 64 in 76 innings (7.6 K/9)
2. Paul Shuey (2001): 57 in 41 innings (12.5 K/9)
3. Jim Kern (1977): 54 in 57.2  innings (8.4 K/9)
4. Don McMahon (1964): 53 in 48.1 innings (9.9 K/9)
5. Cody Allen (2013): 52 in 39.2 innings (11.8 K/9)
5. Steve Karsat (1999): 52 in 54.2 innings (8.6 K/9)
5. Eric Plunk (1994): 52 in 53.1 innings (8.8 K/9)

Best K/9 rate by Indians an reliever in a first half since 1916 (min. 15 innings)
1. Vinnie Pestano (2011): 12.7
2. Ed Glynn (1982): 12.6
3. Paul Shuey (2001): 12.5
4. David Riske (2002): 12.0
5. Cody Allen (2013): 11.8

HOME: The Indians kept Kansas City off the scoreboard to chalk up their American League-leading 12th shutout of the first half. The dozen blanks are the most in an entire season for the Tribe since the club had 13 in 2008. Only the Pirates (13) currently have more than the Indians this season. Cleveland’s 12 shutouts are the most for the team in a first half since collecting 17 shutouts prior to the All-Star break in 1968. Only that ’68 squad and the 1948 Indians (13) had more in a first half in team history, dating back to the first All-Star Game in 1933. Nine of Cleveland shutouts have come at home, marking the most home shutouts in the Majors this season. It’s the most at home in a season since the Indians had 10 in the entire 2006 campaign.

ON DECK:

Royals (43-47) at Indians (49-44)
at 7:05 p.m. ET on Saturday at Progressive Field

–JB

Indians’ All-time All-Star team

Given some of the incredible numbers being put up around baseball in this season’s first half — Miguel Cabrera’s quest for a second Triple Crown, Chris Davis’ power onslaught, Manny Machado’s quest for the all-time double mark, Yasiel Puig’s incredible rookie debut, etc; — I got to thinking about which players might make up an all-time All-Star team for the Indians.

Now, All-Star teams are generally compiled bases on the first-half performance of players. So, what I was contemplating wasn’t a Mount Rushmore of all-time Cleveland greats (that would include someone like Larry Doby, who didn’t make the cut for this list), or the best lineup based on the top overall seasons in Tribe history. This little project was based on the best first-half showings in the history of the Indians franchise.

I established a few ground rules for my search. I’d try to find the best first-half by a player at each position, and no player could make the All-Star team twice. For example, just because Tris Speaker had a handful of incredible first-half showings, I couldn’t name him as the starting center fielder and left fielder. Only one Speaker could make the cut. And, as it happens, Speaker only made the all-time All-Star bench.

That leads me to the next ground rule, which dealt with the construction of the roster. I wasn’t going to compile a 30-plus player team here. What I did instead was went with a more traditional 25-man roster. The roster would include a starting nine, including a designated hitter, a five-man rotation and a seven-man bullpen. The bench required a backup catcher, outfielder and infielder, and a fourth player. For hitters, I limited the search to those with at least 250 at-bats, with one exception (Sandy Alomar Jr.’s 1997 first-half of 240 at-bats).

To find the all-time Indians All-Star team, I used baseball-reference.com, which includes first-half split data dating back to 1916. Under the circumstances, someone like Nap Lajoie (with Cleveland from 1902-1914) didn’t make the cut. I tried to select as many players as I could from different eras, but the 1990s (obviously) dominated this list in the end.

That is how I went about this, and here are my picks, which you can surely debate.

LineupSTARTING LINEUP

1. Kenny Lofton, CF
Year: 1994
Slash line: .378/.443/.578/1.021
Other stats: 10 HR, 24 2B, 7 3B, 43 RBI, 45 SB, 82 R, 129 H, 42 BB, 40 K

2. Roberto Alomar, 2B
Year: 1999
Slash line: .324/.420/.517/.937
Other stats: 12 HR, 22 2B, 2 3B, 60 RBI, 21 SB, 78 R, 104 H, 55 BB, 49 K

3. Albert Belle, LF
Year: 1994
Slash line: .357/.445/.692/1.137
Other stats: 25 HR, 32 2B, 1 3B, 76 RBI, 8 SB, 70 R, 116 H, 50 BB, 52 K

4. Jim Thome, 1B
Year: 1998
Slash line: .326/.435/.655/1.090
Other stats: 23 HR, 29 2B, 1 3B, 73 RBI, 66 R, 99 H, 62 BB, 93 K

5. Manny Ramirez, RF
Year: 1999
Slash line: .333/.423/.640/1.063
Other stats: 25 HR, 14 2B, 2 3B, 96 RBI, 71 R, 101 H, 46 BB, 69 K

6. Travis Hafner, DH
Year: 2006
Slash line: .322/.461/.650/1.112
Other stats: 25 HR, 17 2B, 1 3B, 74 RBI, 68 R, 92 H, 71 BB, 60 K

7. Al Rosen, 3B
Year: 1950
Slash line: .302/.404/.639/1.043
Other stats: 25 HR, 13 2B, 4 3B, 74 RBI, 62 R, 86 H, 46 BB, 34 K

8. Victor Martinez, C
Year: 2007
Slash line: .324/.382/.553/.936
Other stats: 16 HR, 23 2B, 68 RBI, 44 R, 100 H, 28 BB, 40 K

9. Lou Boudreau, SS
Year: 1948
Slash line: .355/.463/.527/.991
Other stats: 8 HR, 19 2B, 2 3B, 54 RBI, 55 R, 97 H, 53 BB, 4 K

THE BENCH

Bench

1. Tris Speaker, OF
Year: 1920
Slash line: .408/.500/.578/1.078
Other stats: 5 HR, 25 2B, 6 3B, 77 RBI, 5 SB, 72 R, 125 H, 53 BB, 6 K

2. Juan Gonzalez, OF/DH
Year: 2001
Slash line: .347/.391/.640/1.031
Other stats: 23 HR, 21 2B, 83 RBI, 61 R, 107 H, 25 BB, 49 K

3. Joe Sewell, INF
Year: 1923
Slash line: .347/.464/.458/.923
Other stats: 2 HR, 21 2B, 2 3B, 44 RBI, 7 SB, 52 R, 96 H, 57 BB, 8 K

4. Sandy Alomar Jr., C
Year: 1997
Slash line: .375/.408/.608/1.016
Other stats: 11 HR, 23 2B, 44 RBI, 40 R, 90 H, 13 BB, 26 K

RotationTHE ROTATION

1. Bob Feller, RHP
Year: 1946
Win-loss/ERA: 15-5, 1.90
Other stats: 180 IP, 19 CG, 190 K, 65 BB, 1.14 WHIP, .215 AVG

2. Gaylord Perry, RHP
Year: 1974
Win-loss/ERA: 15-3, 1.47
Other stats: 189.1 IP, 17 CG, 140 K, 55 BB, 0.88 WHIP, .175 AVG

3. Luis Tiant, RHP
Year: 1968
Win-loss/ERA: 14-5, 1.24
Other stats: 152.2 IP, 14 CG, 157 K, 44 BB, 0.87 WHIP, .166 AVG

4. Sam McDowell, LHP
Year: 1968
Win-loss/ERA: 8-8, 1.55
Other stats: 145.1 IP, 8 CG, 168 K, 59 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .183 AVG

5. Cliff Lee, LHP
Year: 2008
Win-loss/ERA: 12-2, 2.31
Other stats: 124.2 IP, 1 CG, 106 K, 20 BB, 1.04 WHIP, .234 AVG

BullpenTHE BULLPEN

1. Doug Jones, RHP
Year: 1990
Win-loss/ERA: 4-2, 1.41
Other stats: 23 saves, 44.2 IP, 27 K, 9 BB, 1.01 WHIP, .225 AVG

2. Jose Mesa, RHP
Year: 1995
Win-loss/ERA: 1-0, 1.84
Other stats: 21 saves, 29.1 IP, 25 K, 8 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .223 AVG

3. Don McMahon, RHP
Year: 1964
Win-loss/ERA: 3-1, 1.68
Other stats: 5 saves, 48.1 IP, 53 K, 25 BB, 1.14 WHIP, .179 WHIP

4. Rafael Betancourt, RHP
Year: 2007
Win-loss/ERA: 1-0, 1.13
Other stats: 39.2 IP, 36 K, 3 BB, 0.66 WHIP, .169 AVG

5. Dave LaRoche, LHP
Year: 1975
Win-loss/ERA: 3-1, 2.05
Other stats: 7 saves, 44 IP, 50 K, 33 BB, 1.25 WHIP, .152 AVG

6. Julian Tavarez, RHP
Year: 1995
Win-loss/ERA: 5-0, 1.18
Other stats: 45.2 IP, 34 K, 10 BB, 1.01 WHIP, .217

7. Vinnie Pestano, RHP
Year: 2011
Win-loss/ERA: 1-0, 2.97
Other stats: 1 save, 33.1 IP, 47 K, 13 BB, 1.05 WHIP, .185 AVG

–JB

Here’s looking at U, kid

UbaldoUbaldo Jimenez is not the same pitcher he was with the Rockies in 2010. It’s not even close. And, yet, there are certain statistical marks being put up by Jimenez that are his best since that season, which played a major role in his perceived value at the Trade Deadline in 2011.

Jimenez is not the same pitcher he was for the Indians in 2012. It’s not even close. And, yet, there are certain statistical marks being put up by the pitcher that are nearly identical to a handful of areas that led to Jimenez’s worst season in the Majors.

That is an odd mixture: recreating some of the successes of 2010, while working around some of the failures of 2012. It is an approach that — at least for this first half — has helped Jimenez turn into a more reliable pitcher for Cleveland. He isn’t an ace like he once was, but he is keeping the Tribe in ballgames on a consistent basis.

As Jimenez’s pitch velocity decreased over the past three years, it was imperative that he learned how to adapt to working with diminished stuff. Other pitchers have made the successful transition from “thrower” to “pitcher” and that is what Jimenez needed to go through, too. What we are seeing in this first half is the result of a pitcher (finally) learning how to accept who he is now, and adjusting  accordingly.

Let’s take a run through some of the numbers…

Overall through 18 starts: 7-4, 4.37 ERA, 94.2 IP, 92 K, 51 BB, 1.45 WHIP, .242 AVG (.738 OPS)

That is not the prettiest season line, but Jimenez is making it work. Maybe it’s a case of bending without breaking, and perhaps that is not sustainable over an entire season. For now, Jimenez has lived with the walks and home runs (13), while limiting the damage. It is also worth noting that his overall line is skewed by his first three outings, during which he went 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in only 12 innings.

Since those first three turns, Jimenez has gone 7-2 with a 3.38 ERA over 82.2 innings, in which he has 81 strikeouts, 41 walks and a .231 average against in 15 starts. The right-hander has been even better in his most recent nine starts, during which he’s gone 4-1 with a 2.88 ERA across 50 innings, which include 45 strikeouts, 29 walks and a .241 opponents’ average. He’s been consistent throughout in terms of BABIP: .290 in 1st 3 starts, .286 in 15 starts since then, and .284 in his latest nine outings.

This would be a good time, out of fairness, to point out a couple of things that have worked in Jimenez’s favor to this point. The Indians have averaged 5.2 runs of support per start, representing the 14th-best rate of support among qualifying American League starting pitchers. The Indians, as a result of that support and his improvement, have a .667 (12-6) winning percentage (ninth-best in AL) on days the Big U takes the hill. Also, it’s worth noting that Jimenez is 2-0 with a 3.02 ERA (eight starts) against sub-.500 teams and 5-4 with a 5.58 ERA (10 starts) against clubs with a winning record (as of this writing).

Jimenez’s success this year comes amidst some continued struggles in some key areas:

  • He has given up 1.2 homers per nine innings and issued 4.8 walks per nine innings. Last season, when Jimenez ended 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA, those rates were 1.3 HR/9 and 4.8 BB/9, so almost exactly the same. His 12.4-percent walk rate is the highest percentage among American League starting pitchers.
  • Jimenez is actually averaging fewer innings per start (5.3 innings, ranking 61st among AL starters) this season than he did in 2012 (5.7). His average of 4.21 pitches per plate appearance (second-highest in AL) is the highest mark of his career. He’s averaging 23 plate appearances per start, 96.8 pitches per outing and he’s needing 6.1 pitches on average to record an out.
  • Jimenez’s fastball velocity over the past four years is as follows, with MLB rank among qualifying pitchers included: 96.1 mph in 2010 (first), 93.5 mph in 2011 (10th), 92.5 mph in 2012 (23rd), 91.4 mph in 2013 (42nd).
  • Jimenez has only logged a quality start (at least six innings and three earned runs or fewer) in 33-percent of his starts, a rate that ranks 63rd among qualifying AL starters.

So, how then, is Jimenez achieving his recent success?

The right-hander has most notably experienced a drastic improvement against left-handed hitters. Last year, lefties posted a .271/.375/.479 slash line against Jimenez, who has altered his approach some this year. He is relying more heavily on a splitter, which he didn’t use at his peak with the Rockies. Jimenez has reduced the number of two-strike sinkers to lefties, leaning more on that split and a four-seamer (according to brooksbaseball.net) when ahead in the count or looking to put the hitter away. The result so far has been a .229/.298/.414 slash line for left-handed hitters.

Right-handed hitters have dropped to .252/.380/.388 this year from .270/.354/.424 a year ago. Jimenez has increased his slider usage early in counts and reduced sinker usage with two strikes. Remember, that sinker was Jimenez’s main weapon back in his prime with Colorado. With its diminished velocity, he’s worked other pitches in more often. Jimenez has also cut down the number of curveballs he’s thrown this season.

Per fangraphs.com, here are Jimenez’s pitch use percentages from 2012 compared to 2013: fastball (two/four) — 57.5 (2012)/53.7 (2013); slider — 15.8/22.3; curveball — 8.8/3.4; changeup — 13.0/10.2; splitter — 4.9/10.3.

With all of that in mind, here’s a glace at some of the results:

  • Jimenez is striking out an average of 8.7 hitters per nine innings, which is his best rate since 2010.
  • His 22.3 strikeout percentage is also his best mark since 2010 (23.9), and 10th-best in the American League
  • Jimenez’s extra-base hit percentage of 7.3 is his best since 2010 (6.2)
  • The pitcher’s 62-percent balls-in-play rate is the best of his career, which has a 65-percent rate overall.
  • His strike percentage (61) is better than his career rate (60).
  • Jimenez’s 31-percent called strike rate is the best of his career (29 percent overall).
  • Hitters are fouling off 29-percent of his pitches, marking the best rate of his career and 12th-best rate in the AL.
  • Jimenez’s 29-percent 0-2-count rate is best of his career and 10th in the American League.
  • Jimenez has given up 13 home runs, but 10 of the blasts have been solo shots.
  • He is inducing swings at pitches outside the strike zone 25.8 percent of the time (23.2 percent in 2012).
  • Contact rate inside the strike zone is down to 86.2 percent from 88.9 percent in 2012.
  • Jimenez’s contact rate overall is down to 80.4 percent from 82.4 percent in 2012.
  • Hitters have a .269 average vs. Jimenez’s fastball compared to .319 a year ago.
  • Hitters have a .171 average vs. the pitcher’s slider compared to .273 in 2012.
  • Jimenez’s 8 percent swing-and-miss rate is his best since 2010, and up from 7 percent in 2012.
  • His 57 percent first-pitch strike rate is the best of his career, and up from 52.4 in 2012.

That’s a whole lot of good mixed in with the bad. By cleaning up, and speeding up, his delivery, and altering his pitch selection, Jimenez is getting more swings and misses, and forcing hitters to chase more pitches, even though his average pitch velocity is at a career low. The walk rate remains high, but chalk it up to a case of being effectively wild for now. As Indians manager Terry Francona said on Tuesday, hitters have a hard time honing in on anything with the way Jimenez has pitched to this point.

What will be interesting to see is whether Jimenez can keep this up over a 30-35 start season, or if the high pitch counts, short outings and bloated walk rate will come back to bite him, and the Tribe, in the second half.

For now, it seems like Jimenez has accepted who he is these days as a pitcher, and he has found a way to make it work.

–JB

Covering the Bases: Game 88

77KluberFinal: Indians 9, Tigers 6

FIRST: We’ll get to the career night for Michael Brantley, and the bullpen that he bailed out, but let’s kick off the latest CTB by taking a look at the outing turned in by Indians righty Corey Kluber.

After all, before the bullpen meltdown, and before Brantley’s second home run of the afternoon, Kluber was in line to dominate the stories and headlines in Cleveland.

Kluber pitched into the seventh inning, holding the Tigers to one Miguel Cabrera solo home run and tying a career high with 10 strikeouts. When the pitcher walked off the field with one out in the seventh, and the Indians holding a 6-1 lead, the Progressive Field crowd gave him a standing ovation.

The drama over the final few innings robbed Kluber of a well-deserved win.

“Hey, the team got a win,” Kluber said. “That’s what’s important.”

It was Kluber’s best start since June 16, when he blanked the Nationals over eight innings. In this no-decision, the pitcher was charged with two runs (one scored following his exit) on five hits in 6 1/3 innings. Early on in the outing, Kluber relied heavily on his sinker, especially early in the count, to establish the inside corner and set up situations to mix in his breaking ball and changeup.

“That was what Carlos [Santana] and I talked about beforehand,” Kluber said. “I think it was big for us during and after that first inning. They came out aggressive, but [we didn't] shy away from being aggressive just because they were.”

Case in point: Cabrera drilled a first-pitch sinker out to left for a no-doubt homer in the first inning. That didn’t deter Kluber from sticking with the plan.

“He threw a fastball in to Cabrera that was probably in off the plate, and he hit it a long way,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And to Corey’s credit, he didn’t vary from being in attack mode. Because of that, he got a lot of broken bats, he stayed ahead in the count. He was aggressive. He was really good.”

As for that Cabrera long ball, Kluber said: “I made a good pitch. I put it where I wanted to. He’s a great hitter. You just tip your cap to him and move on.”

Kluber logged 53 sinkers in the game. The right-hander has enjoyed much better success this season when similarly leaning on that pitch.

If you exclude his two relief outings, and his rain-shortened start on ay 31, Kluber has thrown 48 or more sinkers in eight starts, going 3-2 with a 2.85 ERA, 56 strikeouts and 10 walks in 53.2 innings. In the five starts in which he has thrown fewer than 48 sinkers, Kluber has gone 2-3 with a 7.76 ERA, 22 strikeouts and eight walks in 26.2 innings.

According to brooksbaseball.net, Kluber averaged 95.6 mph (topping out at 98.1 mph) with his sinker. On the season, Kluber was averaging 92.8 mph with his fastball (four-seam/two-seam) heading into Sunday’s start, according to fangraphs.com. Among American League starters with at least 70 innings, that was tied for the fifth-fastest fastball.

Highest fastball velocity among AL starters (min. 70 innings)
1. Derek Holland, Texas, 93.6
2. Max Scherzer, Detroit, 93.2
3. Yu Darvish, Texas, 93.1
4. Chris Sale, Chicago, 92.9
5. Corey Kluber, Cleveland, 92.8
5. Justin Verlander, Detroit, 92.8
5. Jason Hammel, Baltimore, 92.8

Over his past 11 starts (since his May 10 disaster in Detroit), Kluber has gone 4-3 with a 3.74 ERA over 65 innings, in which he has 66 strikeouts and 13 walks. His 9.13 strikeouts per nine innings over that span rank ninth among American League starters. Others on that list include Sale (11.68), Darvish (10.4), Scherzer (10.13), Felix Hernandez (10.07), Justin Masterson (9.73), Holland (9.37), Joe Blanton (9.26) and Verlander (9.2).

smoothSECOND: There is a reason that Michael Brantley was dubbed “Dr. Smooth” by the Plain Dealer’s Dennis Manoloff a few seasons ago. Brantley is about as stoic as they come, and calm, cool and collected under pressure.

Side note: “Dr. Smooth” appeared on the back of Brantley’s 2013 Topps baseball card and has since been used on the Progressive Field scoreboard when the left fielder comes through big.

In Sunday’s victory, Brantley came through when it mattered most. In the eighth inning, following a three-run collapse by setup man Vinnie Pestano that pulled the game into a 6-6 tie, Brantley clubbed a two-run home run to push Cleveland ahead again for good.

Brantley ended the day 3-for-4 with two homers, a double and a career-high five RBI for the Tribe.

“I think he likes hitting with men on base,” Francona said. “But he doesn’t change anything. He doesn’t try to do too much. … He doesn’t over-swing and the results [are there]. He’s got such a pretty swing. When he gets that barrel to it, it’s a gorgeous thing to watch.”

To Francona’s point, here are some of Brantley’s numbers this season in clutch scenarios:

Runners on base: .341/.381/.473/.854
ROB with 2 outs: .362/.403/.534/.938
Scoring position: .367/.405/.500/.905
RISP with 2 outs: .406/.457/.625/1.082

“There’s times when the game might dictate getting on base or driving a guy in or whatnot,” Brantley said. “But the game dictates that. I don’t dictate that. I just try to put up a good at-bat every time.”

In his 84th game of the season, Brantley has already matched a career high for a season with seven home runs. He has five homers in his past 61 at-bats after launching just two in his first 246 at-bats this season. He is also about halfway to the career high for his dad, Mickey Brantley, who belted 15 for Seattle in 1988.

“Is that right?” Michael Brantley said with a grin. “We’re doing all right.”

THIRD: There is no getting around the fact that Cleveland’s bullpen — a strength for the past few seasons – has been a glaring weakness this year. The Tribe is tied with the Orioles for the most blown saves (17) in the AL, and has given up 131 runs in Innings 7-9 this season. Only the Astros (141) had given up more runs in the final three innings among AL teams, heading into Sunday.

In the win over Detroit, Indians relievers Joe Smith and Pestano — the setup men for closer Chris Perez — combined to allow four runs on seven hits in 1.1 innings (seventh and eighth). That allowed the Tigers to go from being down, 6-1, to pulling things back into a tie.

“I know that I’ve definitely had my struggles and I’m a big part of that,” Pestano said of the bullpen’s overall issues. “A lot of the blame for a lot of the struggles, and a lot of the lack of ability to succeed in situations I’m put in, falls back on me.”

There are a couple things at play this season that have led to the issue.

Inconsistency in the starting staff is one. Cleveland has 33 games in which the starter did not record an out in the sixth inning. Only the Astros (34) have more such games in the AL. Fewer innings by the rotation leads to more innings for the bullpen, and this ‘pen has also dealt with injuries this year to key players such as Pestano and Perez.

Now, the bullpen had shown improvement recently, posting a 2.92 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP over the team’s 15-5 run from June 11-July 2. That said, the rotation also average just under six innings per start over that same stretch. Over the past five games (1-4), the ‘pen has posted a 6.85 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP. Go figure, the rotation has averaged less than five innings per game over that period. It’s all connected.

HOME: Say what you want about the late hiccups that nearly derailed this win, but the Indians showed more fight in this game than they had in the first two games against Detroit. The Tigers outscored the Tribe, 16-4, in the first two games to run their winning streak over Cleveland to seven games. Following Saturday’s loss, the Indians players held a closed-door meeting.

Francona said veteran Jason Giambi played a role.

“Any time Jason Giambi talks, it’s good,” Francona said. “Not only do they listen, but I listen to him. He’s got that kind of presence about him. I actually was talking to ‘G’ a lot during [Saturday's] game about things. I was glad he [spoke in the meeting].”

What was said?

“You’d probably be better off asking him,” said the manager. “I just think there’s a way to compete, and a way to fight back. Through all of this, all the ups and downs — and there’s been a bunch of them — we’re [2 1/2 games] back. That’s not very far.”

KIP-O-METER: downgraded to yellow. On Saturday, the day he made his first All-Star team, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis went 0-for-4 to end his 16-game hitting streak and 36-game on-base streak. On Sunday, Kipnis went 1-for-3 with a single, walk, run and stolen base. He joins Grady Sizemore (2008), Roberto Alomar (1999) and Von Hayes (1982) as the only Cleveland players with at least 20 stolen bases and 50 RBI in a first half (since 1916).

ON DECK:

Tigers (48-39) at Indians (46-42)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Progressive Field

–JB

Covering the Bases: Game 86

75MastyFinal: Tigers 7, Indians 0

FIRST: Let me start this one off with saying I enjoy covering Justin Masterson. He’s a refreshing player to chronicle given his sense of humor, constant smile and easygoing way of going about things.

In a game that’s extremely hard, and extremely scrutinized, Masterson does his best to keep things light. He did so again after Friday’s loss to Detroit, following a rough performance in which he allowed six runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, marking his shortest outing of the season.

This time, Masterson’s delivery was off both during and after the game.

Masterson was asked what the issue was against the Tigers, and the pitcher decided to quip that it had to do with his decision to go clean-shaven for the start.

“I was just flying open all day,” Masterson said. “In my last outing, I had a little bit of a beard going on. I shaved it before this one. I think my head was a little bit lighter, so I was just kind of pulling off to the side and I was pushing a lot of stuff out there. So I have to re-evaluate the next time that I shave.”

Masterson chuckled while reporters stood silent.

This is hardly a big deal, but it seems that there could be a better time to joke about a poor performance. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism after a rough start, or maybe it’s Masterson’s way of showing that he doesn’t take a bad day at the office more serious than it probably needs to be taken. After all, there are 30-plus starts in a season. This was just one of them.

Masterson has done this in the past. Most notable were two such postgame interviews last season.

On July 6 a year ago, he allowed eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Rays and gave up a home run to Luke Scott to snap the batter’s 0-for-41 slump. Masterson joked that it was just “people helping people.” On Aug. 3 last season, he gave up seven runs in four innings to the Tigers and thought that postgame session was a good time to talk about his wife’s cookie business.

Masterson has the right idea about keeping things light, but it doesn’t always go over well in the immediate aftermath of a tough loss.

Flying open was an issue, but it had nothing to do with Masterson’s beard. The result was a sinker that went flat at times and a breaking ball that wasn’t as sharp. A pair of hitters with poor career numbers against Masterson also came up big. Ramon Santiago (1-for-14 vs. the pitcher going into Friday) delivered a tw0-run single in the second. Jhonny Peralta (1-for-17) had a two-run double in the fifth.

“When the sinker is up, anybody can hit it,” Masterson said. “It doesn’t matter what the numbers are.”

It is worth noting that Masterson spun a brilliant complete-game shutout last time out against the White Sox. In the outings on either side of that start, though, he’s given up 12 runs in 11 innings combined against a pair of good lineups between the Orioles and Tigers.

Here’s a look at Masterson’s season split in two:

Last 9 starts:

3-5, 4.91 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 55 IP, 32 ER, 60 K, 23 BB, 9.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 8.4 H/9

First 10 starts:

7-2, 2.83 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 70 IP, 22 ER, 71 K, 26 BB, 9.1 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 6.8 H/9

SECOND: It certainly did not help matters that Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello turned in a gem against Cleveland’s offense, spinning seven shutout innings to guide Detroit to an easy win.

Said Tigers manager Jim Leyland: “I didn’t expect him to shut this lineup out, to be honest with you, but I’m thrilled to death that he did.”

Porcello ended the evening with six strikeouts and two walks, scattering five hits along the way. Indians center fielder Michael Bourn said the right-hander did a good job of attacking the lineup with fastballs later in the count rather than using the soft stuff.

“He had a good four-seamer that he was getting to us at the end of counts,” Bourn said. “After he slowed us down, he was speeding us up pretty much.”

THIRD: There was a glaring baserunning blunder by Drew Stubbs in the third inning that cost the Indians a possible rally when they were only trailing, 3-0.

Stubbs led off with a single and Bourn followed by sending a pitch from Porcello to center field. Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson made a diving catch, but Stubbs — who moved halfway between first and second base — stutter-stepped, considered retreating and then ran to second base. Jackson, who caught the low liner just above the ground, threw to first base and easily doubled up Stubbs for an unlikely twin killing.

So, what happened?

“The umpire was directly in his line of vision,” Indians manager Terry Francona explained. “And the way Jackson caught the ball … Stubby had no idea. He thought the ball fell. He’s maybe our most conscientious and best baserunner. He got shielded and didn’t know what to do.

“He didn’t know. He was stuck, and he knew it. It just was a fluke. Wasn’t the umpire’s fault. Just was a fluke.”

KipometerRYHOME: Time to check in with the Kip-o-Meter: red, but cooling.

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis went 1-for-4, but finished with three strikeouts in a game for the first time since May 22. That sixth-inning single did, however, extend his career-best hitting streak to 16 games. During that streak, Kipnis has hit .446 (25-for-56) with 13 extra-base hits, 20 RBI and a .916 OPS. It’s the longest hit streak for a Tribe second baseman since Robbie Alomar went 18 games in 2000.

The single also extended Kipnis’ on-base streak — reaching via a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch — to 36 consecutive games, dating back to May 26. The last Cleveland player to enjoy an on-base streak at least that long was Victor Martinez, who lasted 45 games between 2005-06. Martinez went 3-for-3 for Detroit in Friday’s loss.

ON DECK:

Tigers (47-38) at Indians (46-40)
at 4:05 p.m. ET on Saturday at Progressive Field

–JB

Covering the Bases: Game 83

72CPFinal: Indians 6, Royals 5

FIRST: The late-inning bullpen trio of Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez has arguably been one of the better groups in the American League over the past two seasons. This year?

“It’s been a little bit of a mess,” Smith said after Tuesday’s win in Kansas City.

The “mess” Smith spoke of is the mix of injuries and inconsistency that has struck the Tribe’s trio. To this point, Smith has done his part, logging 31.1 innings. Pestano and Perez, on the other hand, have each spent time on the disabled list, fought diminished velocity and experienced plenty of drama both in outings that have gone right and outings that have gone wrong.

Tuesday marked only the fourth time this season that Smith, Pestano and Perez finished a game for the Indians. Smith turned in a clean seventh, Pestano allowed one run in the eighth but escaped further harm with a critical double play, and Perez collected a save after putting a couple runners aboard.

“We had the order,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Now, we’ve just got to get them hot. That’ll happen.”

Last season, the Indians went 20-7 in games that all three pitchers appeared and 38-8 in games featuring Pestano and Perez. The trio combined for a 3.01 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP during the 2012 slate. This season, they are currently sporting a combined ERA of 3.12 and WHIP of 1.24. Smith (2.01/0.99) has done most of the heavy lifting.

Perez returned from the DL on Thursday after another bout with the right shoulder injury that first flared in Spring Training. An effective Perez helps restore order to the bullpen, pushing Pestano back to the eighth, Smith to the seventh, and the rest of the arms — some capable of handling late innings — into the sixth.

“Hopefully getting CP back and Vinnie getting his stuff back, hopefully we can start rolling like we did the past two years,” Smith said. “[Having CP back] makes it so much deeper when you’ve got an arm like Cody Allen and Nick Hagadone and Bryan Shaw sitting there, those guys that can pitch the sixth inning. They’ve proven they can pitch later in the game, too. That just shows the depth of our bullpen. When CP’s back and going, that just makes us that much stronger and I think it takes a lot of pressure off our starters.”

SECOND: A key point in the win came in the fifth inning, when Indians starter Corey Kluber fell behind, 3-0, against Alex Gordon with the bases loaded and one out. At that juncture, Cleveland was holding a 4-0 lead on the Royals.

There was talk in the press box — from a few Royals writers — that Kluber might’ve been best served just walking Gordon, conceding one run and taking his chances with Alcides Escobar (.608 OPS).

“No, no, no,” Francona said. “That’s the problem with falling behind. If you start walking guys with the bases loaded, you’re asking for trouble. Sometimes you’ve just got to get the guy out with a fastball. Bases loaded? He had just walked [Johnny Giavotella]. If you start getting toward Billy Butler or [Eric] Hosmer, you’re asking for a crooked number.”

Kluber went after Gordon with a fastball and the Royals left field deposited it well over the right-field wall for a game-tying grand slam. Escobar followed with a sharp groundout and Hosmer flew out to left to end the inning.

THIRD: Cleveland drew eight walks on offense in a game for the seventh time this season. Only the Red Sox and A’s — eight apiece — have more such games this season. In Tuesday’s win, Carlos Santana was the poster boy for the patient approach that helped the Tribe get away with a one-run victory.

Santana finished the game 0-for-1, but he drew three walks, including one with the bases full in the first inning, and chipped in a sacrifice fly. He became just the fourth Indians hitter since at least 1916 to have no hits, two RBI and three walks in a single game. He’s only the third to do it in a game that didn’t go extra innings.

Zero hits, two RBI, three walks (since 1916)
Carlos Santana, July 2, 2013, five plate appearances
Brook Jacoby, Sept. 21, 1989, eight plate appearances
Dale Mitchell, June 6, 1949, five plate appearances
Odell Hale, June 13, 1936, six plate appearances

Francona said Santana’s most impressive plate appearance came in the first inning, when the catcher fell behind, 0-2, before eventually working a bases-loaded walk to put the Indians up, 1-0. Royals starter Luis Mendoza alternated between fastball and slider for his first six pitches before going with an 84-mph slider in the dirt for his seventh pitch.

“Everybody in the ballpark is figuring fastball,” Francona said. “He had enough to lay off of it. That was huge.”

Kipometer copyHOME: Time to check on the current status of the Kip-o-Meter: red.

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, who was named the American League’s Player of the Month for June on Wednesday, went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored on Tuesday. That extended his on-base streak to 33 games (.376 average, 1.108 OPS) and his hitting streak to 13 games (.447 average, 1.492 OPS).

“There was no big drastic change in approach or my swing that has led to this,” Kipnis said on Tuesday. “When I’m going well, in the past I’ve been prone to either get greedy with some swings or go away with the approach that’s working in certain situations. This time I’ve stayed the same game in, game out against lefty or righty.

“There’s been some times where I’ve wanted to pull the ball, but I’ve stayed with my approach and have stayed through the ball and have gone to left field. It’s led to being a more consistent hitter in the last month. That’s literally all it’s been. It’s been not wandering too far off the path that’s working for me.”

ON DECK:

Indians (45-38) at Royals (38-42)
at 8:10 p.m. ET at Kauffman Stadium

–JB

Witness Kipnis: A review of June

JuneKipnisFor the Indians, June was a month to quiet some critics. There are three months left for Cleveland to prove it can contend in the American League Central, but over the past month the Tribe has shown that a prolonged slump does not necessarily need to be a season killer.

When the Indians went through their 4-16 skid between late May and early June, there was a sense of, “Here we go again,” among the fan base, considering the collapses of the previous two years. This is a completely new team this season, and the players have emphasized that all along in the clubhouse. On the field, they showed it by responding with a 14-5 record in recent weeks to pull back into a first-place tie.

What June really was for the Indians and their fans was a chance to witness an historic month from Jason Kipnis.

What Kipnis did over the past four weeks was nothing short of special, and he seems a shoo-in to take home the American League’s Player of the Month Award. An argument could be made that Kipnis just turned in the greatest single month in the long history of the Cleveland franchise. Of course, that would depend on what statistical measurements you favor. I’ll use this space to give you a glimpse of the month Kipnis just had for the Tribe.

Stats: .419/.517/.699/1.216, 4 HR, 12 2B, 1 3B, 25 RBI, 39 H, 17 R, 9 SB, 20 BB

  • Note: These factoids were gathered via baseball-reference.com, so data is to at least 1916.
  • The last MLB players to have a slash line of at least .419/.517/.699 in one month are Miguel Cabrera and Mike Napoli in Sept/Oct 2011.
  • The last MLB player to have at least that slash line with nine-plus stolen bases in a single month: George Sisler in June 1920. The only other player besides Kipnis and Sisler to have that slash line and at least nine stolen bases? Ty Cobb in June 1917. That’s right. Cobb, Sisler and Kipnis. Think about that.
  • Over the past 20 seasons, a player has had a month with at least that slash line combined with at least 20 walks and 25 RBI just four times: Kipnis (June 2013), Barry Bonds (Aug. 2002), Frank Thomas (May 1997, May 1994).
  • Kipnis is the first Indians player to enjoy a month with at least nine stolen bases, 17 extra-base hits, 20 walks and 25 RBI.
  • If you remove the stolen bases, a 17/20/25 month has been done just eight times by a Tribe hitter: Kipnis, Travis Hafner (Aug. 2006, Sept. 2005), Jim Thome (July 2001, June 1998, May 1998) and Manny Ramirez (Sept. 2000, May 2000).
  • Kipnis’ .419 average is highest in a single month (min. 20 games) by an Indians hitter since Aug. 1986 (Pat Tabler, .463).
  • Kipnis’ 61 times on base are most in one month by an Indians hitter since July 2001 (Thome, 61).
  • Kipnis’ .517 OBP is highest in one month (min. 20 games) by Tribe hitter since Sept. 1999 (Ramirez, .524)
  • Last Indians hitter to match Kipnis’ slash line in one month: Tris Speaker (Sept. 1923). Only others are Speaker (July 1923) and Joe Sewell (Aug. 1923).
  • Kipnis’ 38.5 runs created and 1.216 OPS (min. 20 games) best by an Indians hitter since Hafner in Aug. 2006.
  • There have been 27 months in which an Indians hitter had at least a .400/.500/.600 slash line. The last with at least 25 RBI mixed in was Thome (Aug. 1996). The last with 12 doubles and 25 RBI was Speaker (July 1925). Kipnis is the only one to have more than seven stolen bases to go along with that slash line in one month.
  • There have been only seven months in which an MLB player had at least a 1.216 OPS with 20 walks and nine stolen bases: Kipnis, plus Ryan Klesko (May 2001), Bonds (Sept. 1997, Sept. 1992), Chuck Knoblauch (July 1996) and Joe Morgan (Aug. 1976 and June 1975).
  • Only five times has an MLB player had a .400 average with 20 walks and nine stolen bases: Kipnis, plus Knoblauch (July 1996), Brett Butler (July 1992), Morgan (April 1975) and Speaker (July 1916).
  • Only five times has an MLB player had at least 39 hits, 20 walks, 17 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases in one month: Kipnis, plus Knoblauch (July 1996), Bonds (Sept. 1992), Morgan (Aug. 1976) and Max Carey (July 1922).
  • Kipnis has reached base via a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in 32 straight games, marking the longest such streak since Ryan Garko went 32 from Aug. 14-Sept.24, 2008. If Kipnis extends that to 33 games, it will be the longest since Victor Martinez’s 45-game run from Sept. 17, 2005-May 6, 2006.
  • Kipnis has posted a .381/.479/.646/1.125 slash line over his 32-game on-base streak.
  • Kipnis was batting .189/.265/.270/.535 on May 1. In 54 games since that point, the second baseman has posted a .340/.426/.630/1.056 slash line to pull himself into the upper echelon of baseball’s second basemen.
  • Entering Monday, Kipnis led American League second basemen in runs created (61), OPS+ (157) and ISO (.234). He ranked second among his AL peers in runs produced (83) and baseball-reference’s WAR (3.6).
  • Here are Kipnis’ season stats with rank among AL second basemen: .299 average (t-3), .384 OBP (2), .533 SLG (1), .917 OPS (1), 12 homers (2), 22 doubles (t-1), 3 triples (2), 51 RBI (1), 44 runs (t-2), 39 walks (t-2), 19 stolen bases (1), 146 total bases (3) and 37 extra-base hits (1).

Phew. Got all that?

To summarize: Kipnis had an amazing June.

Here is a look at the month that was for the Indians…

Record: 15-13
Home: 7-4
Road: 8-9

AL Central standings as of July 1:

1. Tigers 43-37 (–)
2. Indians 44-38 (–)
3. Royals 38-41 (4.5)
4. Twins 36-42 (6)
5. White Sox 32-47 (10.5)

Offense (AL rank)

.254 average (9)
.332 on-base (5)
.395 slugging (9)
.727 OPS (7)
130 runs (3)
236 hits (9)
46 doubles (5)
2 triples (t-9)
27 home runs (t-8)
126 RBI (2)
107 walks (1)
231 strikeouts (14)
24 stolen bases (2)
75 extra-base hits (t-6)
367 total bases (8)

NOTES: The offense has struck out 230+ times in back-to-back months, marking the first time since at least 1916 that an Indians team has whiffed at least 230 times in two months in the same season. … June marked the first time since May 2000 that an Indians team had at least 100 walks, 130 runs and 24 stolen bases in a single month. … Mark Reynolds came five punch-outs shy of the Tribe’s one-month mark. Reynolds struck out 40 times, marking the second-most for one month in team history. That dubious record is held by Anthony Castrovince’s favorite player, Cory Snyder, who struck out 45 times in September 1986.

Pitching (AL rank)

15 wins (6)
4.15 ERA (11)
4.68 rot. ERA (9)
3.10 bullpen ERA (6)
7 saves (t-12)
243 innings (t-6)
245 hits (t-10)
123 runs (t-10)
112 earned runs (9)
30 home runs (t-10)
96 walks (15)
202 strikeouts (8)
.263 average (9)
1.41 WHIP (14)

NOTES: The Indians had at least 15 wins and 200 strikeouts in one month for the 27th time since 1916. Cleveland also achieved that feat in May, making this the first time since 2004 (June and July) that the club had at least two months with 15 wins/200 strikeouts in the same season. Between 2004 and 2013, the only 15-win month with 200 strikeouts was September 2010.

INDIANS PLAYER HONORS

Player of the month: 2B Jason Kipnis
Stats/Notes: See above.

Previous 2013 winners: C Carlos Santana (co-winner, April), INF Mark Reynolds (co-winner, April), Kipnis (May)

Pitcher of the month: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
Stats: 3-1, 3.09 ERA, 32 IP, 32 K, 18 BB, 1.63 WHIP, .268 AVG, 6 starts

Notes: Justin Masterson (May 2013, July 2011) is the only other Indians pitcher to have a month with three-plus wins, 32 innings, 32 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.09 or better over the past five seasons. Cliff Lee (April 2008) and CC Sabathia (June 2008) were the previous pitchers to pull that off in a single month for the Indians.

Previous 2013 winners: Masterson (April, May)

Reliever of the month: RHP Vinnie Pestano
Stats: 2.08 ERA, 6 saves, 13 IP, 15 K, 6 BB, 1.38 WHIP, .245 AVG, 13 games

Notes: The last Indians reliever to have a month with an ERA under 2.08, at least 15 strikeouts and 13 innings, plus six saves was Bob Wickman in May 2001. Prior to Wickman, the previous Tribe relievers to have those numbers in one month are Jerry DiPoto (Sept. 1993) and Jim Kern (June 1977).

Previous 2013 winners: RHP Joe Smith (April), RHP Cody Allen (May)

Game of the month (hitter): Kipnis, June 28 (Game 1), during 19-10 win over White Sox
Stat line: 3-for-4 with 1 SB , 3 2B, 3 BB, 4 R. First MLB player since as least 1916 with 3 2B & 3 BB in one game.

Game of the month (pitcher): Masterson, June 30, during 4-0 win over White Sox
Stat line: 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. First Indians pitcher since 1994 (Dennis Martinez) with 3 SHO in one season.

—————————————————————

Minor League standouts for April

Triple-A Columbus

Player of the Month: INF Cord Phelps
Stats: .320/.369/.460/.829, 2 HR, 6 2B, 16 RBI, 32 H, 12 R, 25 games

Previous 2013 winners: OF Jeremy Hermida (April), Phelps (May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Preston Guilmet
Stats: 0.73 ERA, 2 saves, 12.1 IP, 18 K, 4 BB, 1.30 WHIP, .235 AVG, 9 games

Previous 2013 winners: Guilmet (April), RHP Carlos Carrasco (May)

Double-A Akron

Player of the Month: OF Carlos Moncrief
Stats: .370/.447/.640/1.087, 5 HR, 8 2B, 2 3B, 22 RBI, 37 H, 21 R, 27 games

Previous 2013 winners: 1B/DH Chun Chen (April), C Roberto Perez (May)

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Matt Packer
Stats: 4-0, 1.19 ERA, 30.1 IP, 24 K, 7 BB, 1.12 WHIP, .237, 5 games (4 starts)

Previous 2013 winners: LHP T.J. House (April), RHP Jose Flores (May)

Class A (high) Carolina

Player of the Month: 2B Joe Wendle
Stats: .333/.412/.637/1.049, 5 HR, 12 2B, 2 3B, 20 RBI, 34 H, 18 R, 26 games

Previous 2013 winners: SS Francisco Lindor (April), OF Luigi Rodriguez (May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Cody Anderson
Stats: 1-1, 2.52 ERA, 25 IP, 29 K, 10 BB, 1.16 WHIP, .209 AVG, 6 starts

Previous 2013 winners: Anderson (April, May)

Class A (low) Lake County

Player of the Month: 2B Yhoxian Medina
Stats: .316/.427/.418/.845, 6 XBH, 4 RBI, 13 BB, 25 H, 11 R, 26 games

Previous 2013 winners: OF Logan Vick (April), OF LeVon Washington (May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Josh Martin
Stats: 1.32 ERA, 13.2 IP, 2 saves, 23 K, 2 BB, 0.80 WHIP, .188 AVG, 8 games

Previous 2013 winners: RHP Michael Peoples (April), LHP Ryan Merritt (May)

Class A (short season) Mahoning Valley

Player of the Month: INF Claudio Bautista
Stats: .302/.367/.491/.857, 2 HR, 4 2B, 10 RBI, 16 H, 10 R, 13 games

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Harold Guerrero
Stats: 1.35 ERA, 6.2 IP, 12 K, 2 BB, 0.75 WHIP, .130 AVG, 4 games

Arizona League (Rookie) Indians

Player of the Month: OF Clint Frazier
Stats: .412/.450/.706/1.156, 1 HR, 1 3B, 7 RBI, 7 H, 3 R, 4 games

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Anderson Polanco
Stats: 1.29 ERA, 7 IP, 8 K, 1 BB, 0.71 WHIP, .160 AVG, 3 games

Dominican Summer League (Rookie) Indians

Player of the Month: 2B Erlin Cerda
Stats: .265/.410/.429/.838, 7 XBH, 3 RBI, 12 BB, 13 H, 9 R, 15 games

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Edward Estrella
Stats: 2-1, 2.49 ERA, 25.1 IP, 20 K, 12 BB, 1.11 WHIP, .180 AVG, 6 games (4 starts)

Previously…

Month in review: May
Month in review: April

–JB

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