Month in review: September

MuralWhen the Indians returned home after their final series of the regular season, a new mural was added to a wall in the hallway leading into the clubhouse. It was a snapshot of the home-plate mob that awaited veteran Jason Giambi after his miracle walk-off homer on Sept. 24.

You see Giambi — the 42-year-old slugger described as a kind of “player coach” by his teammates — coasting toward the pile. You can spot All-Stars Jason Kipnis and Justin Masterson, along with team leaders such as Nick Swisher and Mike Aviles. Also in the shot are guys who played important roles down the stretch, if only for a game or two. Guys like Matt Carson and Jose Ramirez. And you see guys who enjoyed breakout seasons or burst onto the scene this season. Guys like catcher Yan Gomes and pitcher Danny Salazar.

This one still shot serves as the perfect summation for an incredible September that helped the Tribe capture the American League’s top Wild Card spot. Cleveland’s one-game postseason experience was short-lived, but this season should be one that fans remember for ages.

In September, the offense clicked and the pitching staff was the best in the American League. The Indians rattled of 21 wins in September for the first time since 1948 and became only the sixth team in the Modern Era (since 1900) to end a season with a winning streak of at least 10 games.

Justin Masterson was lost to an oblique injury, and then Ubaldo Jimenez turned into the AL’s top pitcher. Chris Perez lost his closer’s job on the final weekend, but right-hander Bryan Shaw turned into an unflappable force out of the bullpen. Nick Swisher found his power stroke and the Indians cruised to one of the greatest finishes in team history.

One year ago, Cleveland endured the worst single month in club history with a 5-24 August. One year later, the Indians pieced together one of their greatest months in more than a century of baseball along the shores of Lake Erie.

Here is a glance at the Tribe’s amazing September…

Record: 21-6
Home: 11-4
Road: 10-2

Offense (AL rank)

.267 average (5)
.342 on-base (3)
.431 slugging (3)
.773 OPS (3)
140 runs (3)
239 hits (10)
47 doubles (10)
6 triples (t-3)
29 home runs (5)
132 RBI (3)
100 walks (3)
207 strikeouts (5)
21 stolen bases (3)
82 extra-base hits (6)
385 total bases (6)

Notes: The Tribe’s .267/.342/.431 slash line was the team’s best for a single month since April 2011. … Cleveland hadn’t turned in a slash line at least that good, combined with at least 20 stolen bases and 100 walks, since Sept. 2000. … This marked only the 25th time in franchise history that the Indians enjoyed a month with at least 20 stolen bases, 80 extra-base hits, 100 walks and 140 runs scored.

Pitching (AL rank)

21 wins (1)
2.84 ERA (1)
2.83 rot. ERA (1)
2.85 bullpen ERA (4)
6 saves (t-8)
241 innings (t-11)
238 hits (7)
83 runs (1)
76 earned runs (1)
19 home runs (t-2)
70 walks (t-2)
262 strikeouts (2)
.259 average (11)
1.28 WHIP (8)

Notes: This marked only the ninth time in franchise history that the Indians had a month with at least 21 wins and an ERA no greater than 2.84. The last such month was June 1965. The last Indians team to have 21 wins, an ERA of 2.84 or better plus no more than 70 walks issued was Sept. 1920. … Cleveland’s 3.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio was its best mark for one month in team history. Second: 3.14 in June 1963. … Cleveland’s top four months by strikeouts: 1. 280 in May 2013, 2. 264 in August 1967, 3. 264 in July 1964, 4. 262 in Sept. 2013.

INDIANS PLAYER HONORS

Player of the month: 1B Nick Swisher
Stats: .263/.353/.515/.869, 7 HR, 4 2B, 17 RBI, 15 BB, 15 R, 26 H, 26 games

Notes: Prior to Swisher this past September, the last three Indians players to have a month with at least seven homers, 15 walks and 17 RBI were Shin-Soo Choo (Sept. 2010), Grady Sizemore (July 2008) and Travis Hafner (three times in 2006).

Previous 2013 winners:

April — C Carlos Santana, INF Mark Reynolds
May — 2B Jason Kipnis
June — 2B Jason Kipnis
July — LF Michael Brantley
August — C Yan Gomes

Pitcher of the month: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
Stats: 4-0, 1.09 ERA, 41.1 IP, 51 K, 7 BB, 1.02 WHIP, .230 AVG, 6 starts

Notes: Jimenez joined Luis Tiant (July 1968) and Pedro Ramos (July 1963) as the only Indians pitchers in team history with at least 50 strikeouts and 10 or fewer walks in a single calendar month. … This marked only the 13th time since at least 1916 that a pitcher had a month with at least 50 strikeouts, no more than 10 walks and an ERA no greater than 1.10. The others on the list include: R.A. Dickey (June 2012), Justin Verlander (June 2011), Johan Santana (Sept. 2004), Pedro Martinez (July 2002, May 2000, Sept. 1999), Randy Johnson (April 2000), Roger Clemens (Aug. 1998, July 1997), Frank Tanana (May 1977), Tom Seaver (July 1973) and Juan Marichal (June 1967).

Previous 2013 winners:

April — RHP Justin Masterson
May — RHP Justin Masterson
June — RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
July — LHP Scott Kazmir
August — RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

Reliever of the month: RHP Bryan Shaw
Stats: 5-0, 0.00 ERA, 15.1 IP, 15 K, 2 BB, 0.65 WHIP, .154 AVG, 13 games

Notes: Shaw joined Atlanta’s Brad Clontz (July 1995) as the only relievers since at least 1916 to have at least five wins and a 0.00 ERA in a single calendar month. … In Indians history, Shaw and Frank Funk (May 1961) are the only relievers to notch at least five wins in one month.

Previous 2013 winners:

April — RHP Joe Smith
May — RHP Cody Allen
June — RHP Vinnie Pestano
July — RHP Chris Perez
August — LHP Marc Rzepczynski

Game of the month (hitter): Jason Giambi, Sept. 24, during 5-4 win over White Sox
Stat line: 1-for-1 with 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI

Notes: For the second time this season, the 42-year-old Giambi became the oldest player in baseball history to belt a walk-off home run, breaking a record previously held by Hank Aaron (1976). It marked his third pinch-hit homer of the year, tying a franchise record last achieved by Ron Kittle in 1987. Giambi became only the 13th players since 1950 to have at least 10 walk-off home runs.

Game of the month (pitcher): Ubaldo Jimenez, Sept. 29, during 5-1 win over Twins
Stat line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K

Notes: This marked the 11th time in Indians history that a pitcher had at least 13 strikeouts with no more than one walk in 6.2 or more innings. Bartolo Colon was the last to do so on Sept. 18, 2000. Jimenez had the fewest innings among those 11 occurrences. … Jimenez joined CC Sabathia (Sept. 14, 2007) and Sam McDowell (Sept. 18, 1966) as the only pitchers in team history with at least 13 strikeouts in seven or fewer innings. … This was the fourth time in MLB history that a pitcher had at least 13 strikeouts, no more than one walk and no more than 6.2 innings logged. The others: Kelvim Escobar (June 12, 2007), Randy Johnson (June 3, 2001) and Pedro Martinez (April 19, 2001).

Previously…

Month in review: August
Month in review: July
Month in review: June
Month in review:
May
Month in review:
April

–JB

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