Month in review: June

Lonnie-Chisenhall-and-Jason-Kipnis-danced-to-YMCA

The Indians got off on the wrong foot in April and got their act together in May. June was about staying afloat for a Cleveland club that is trying to stick in the American League playoff race despite rough first-half acts from key players such as Justin Masterson and Nick Swisher.

June was about Michael Brantley’s continued emergence as Cleveland’s best all-around player, Carlos Santana’s comeback from two awful months and the breakout showing from surprise batting crown contender Lonnie Chisenhall. It wasn’t a great month overall, but the Tribe had plenty of historical footnotes in what ultimately was a .500 showing for the club.

Here is a glance at the month that was for the Tribe…

AL Central standings heading into July:

1. Tigers 45-34 (–)
2. Royals 43-39 (3.5)
3. Indians 39-43 (7.5)
4. White Sox 39-44 (8)
5. Twins 37-44 (9)

Overall: 13-13
Record at home: 6-4
Record on road: 7-9

Offense (AL rank)

.249 AVG (t9)
.307 OBP (11)
.388 SLG (9)
.695 OPS (10)
115 R (7)
228 H (9)
42 2B (t-7)
5 3B (t-5)
25 HR (8)
113 RBI (7)
13 SB (9)
73 BB (10)
216 K (t-12)
355 TB (10)

Notes: A pretty average to below-average month for the Tribe’s offense, which looked to be turning a corner in May. Cleveland’s .695 OPS was its lowest for June since the team posted a .656 mark in 2011. It was kind of an odd offensive month. This was the first June since 1971 that the Tribe had at least 115 runs and 228 hits, but an OPS of .695 or below. Cleveland hadn’t done that in any month since September 2010.

Pitching (AL rank)

13 wins (t-7)
4.02 ERA (9)
4.20 rot. ERA (12)
3.69 rel. ERA (8)
5 saves (t-11)
237.1 IP (11)
239 H (12)
116 R (10)
106 R (10)
26 HR (8)
80 BB (t-10)
212 K (5)
.265 AVG (12)
1.34 WHIP (12)

Notes: Cleveland collected at least 212 strikeouts in one month for the third time this year. They did so in three months last season, too. Prior to 2013, the Indians achieved that feat in September 2010 and then you have to go back to 2001 to find the next prior occurrence. The last time Cleveland gave up at least 116 runs, but no more than 106 earned runs was August 2012 (that was a fun month, remember?). The list of months in team history with at least 212 strikeouts and 80 walks or fewer is short: June 2014, September 2013, September 2010, May 1968, September 1966 and June 1963. The 116 runs allowed are the most among any of the months listed.

Player of the Month: 3B Lonnie Chisenhall
Stats: .311/.364/.556/.919, 5 HR, 11 XBH, 21 RBI, 11 R, 28 H, 24 games

Notes: Shin-Soo Choo (September 2010) was the last Indians batter to have at least a .311 average, .556 slugging, five homers and 21 RBIs in a single month. He also did so in 2008 and Travis Hafner accomplished the feat three times across the 2004-06 seasons. The last third baseman to have those numbers in one month was Case Blake in June 2004.

Apologies to… Michael Brantley (.341/.413/.516) and Carlos Santana (.308/.426/.590). Any one of the three players could’ve gotten the nod this month. I gave it to Brantley in May even though Chisenhall had a stellar month as well. I have the edge to Lonnie Baseball in June, because he had been building toward the breakout showing that has him on the cusp of the batting race qualifiers. Santana’s first two months were abysmal, making his rebound impressive. Let’s see it continue deep into July and the second half.

Previous ’14 winners: OF David Murphy (April), OF Michael Brantley (May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Corey Kluber
Stats: 1-3, 2.89 ERA, 37.1 IP, 32 K, 11 BB, .248 AVG, 1.21 WHIP, 6 starts

Notes: Low run support took a toll on Kluber’s win-loss record, but loyal readers should know I don’t pay too much attention to those columns. With or without support, Kluber was again Cleveland’s top pitcher for June. He wasn’t as strong as he was in May, but that was an impossible pace to keep going. The tough luck made for a rare month for Kluber. He became the first Indians starter to have at least three losses to go along with at least 37.1 IP and an ERA of 2.89 or better since Cliff Lee in May 2009. The last righty to have that kind of bad luck was Tom Candiotti in July 1990.

Previous ’14 winners: RHP Zach McAllister (April), Kluber (May)

Reliever of the Month: RHP Cody Allen
Stats: 1.59 ERA, 11.1 IP, 15 K, 2 BB, .086 AVG, 0.44 WHIP, 4 saves, 11 games

Notes: Allen became the first pitcher in Indians history to have a WHIP of 0.44 or better while appearing in at least 10 games in a single month. The list of pitchers in team history with at least 10 appearances and an opponents’ average of .086 or better includes: Rich Hill (July 2013), Aaron Fultz (May 2007) and Steve Karsay (April 2001). This marked the 10th time a pitcher for Cleveland had a 1.59 ERA or better with at least 15 strikeouts and four saves in 10 or more games in a month. The last to do it was Bob Wickman in May 2001. Allen and Wickman are the only pitchers in that grouping with two or fewer walks.

Previous ’14 winners: RHP Bryan Shaw (April, May)

Game of the Month (hitter): 3B Lonnie Chisenhall
June 9 at Rangers: 5-for-5, 3 HR, 1 2B, 3 R, 9 RBI, 15 TB

Notes: Chisenhall became only the fourth player since at least 1914 to have at least 3 homers, 5 hits and 9 RBIs in a game, joining Fred Lynn (1975), Gil Hodges (1950) and Walker Cooper (1949). Chisenhall is the only player in MLB history to do so in just five plate appearances. He tied Cleveland’s franchise record for RBIs in a single game at nine (Chris James on May 4, 1991).

Game of the Month (pitcher): RHP Josh Tomlin
June 28 at Mariners: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 11 K, 111 (77), 96 game score

Notes: Tomlin’s 96 game score was the highest in the American League this season and only second to Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw’s June no-hitter against the Rockies. Tomlin became the second pitcher in Cleveland history at least 11 strikeouts, no walks and no more than one hit allowed in a shutout, joining Len Barker (perfect game vs. Blue Jays in 1981). Tomlin’s outing marked only the 21st time since at least 1914 that an MLB pitcher had that kind of line.

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Minor League standouts for June

Triple-A Columbus

Player of the Month: C Roberto Perez
Stats: .312/.400/.532/.932, 3 HR, 10 XBH, 21 RBI, 12 R, 21 games

Previous ’14 winners: 1B Jesus Aguilar (April), OF Matt Carson (May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Austin Adams
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 12.1 IP, 10 K, 1 BB, .171 AVG, 0.65 WHIP, 1 save, 10 games

Previous ’14 winners: RHP Trevor Bauer (April), LHP Nick Hagadone (May)

Double-A Akron

Player of the Month: OF Tyler Naquin
Stats: .333/.394/.448/.842, 2 HR, 6 XBH, 10 RBI, 17 R, 24 games

Previous ’14 winners: 3B Giovanny Urshela (April), Naquin (May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Bryan Price
Stats: 1.80 ERA, 10 IP, 16 K, 2 BB, .189 AVG, 0.90 WHIP, 1 saves, 8 games

Previous ’14 winners: LHP Kyle Crockett (April), RHP Tyler Sturdevant (May)

Class A (high) Carolina

Player of the Month: OF Luigi Rodriguez
Stats: .329/.444/.534/.979, 3 HR, 8 XBH, 8 RBI, 14 R, 16 BB, 22 games

Previous ’14 winners: SS Erik Gonzalez (April), OF Anthony Gallas (May)

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Ryan Merritt
Stats: 2-0, 1.29 ERA, 28 IP, 20 K, 6 BB, .170 AVG, 0.82 WHIP, 4 starts

Previous ’14 winners: Merritt (April, May)

Class A (low) Lake County

Player of the Month: INF Claudio Bautista
Stats: .309/.321/.556/.877, 4 HR, 10 XBH, 15 RBI, 14 R 21 games

Previous ’14 winners: OF Cody Farrell (April), INF Paul Hendrix (May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Ben Heller
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 12.2 IP, 27 K, 3 BB, .095 AVG, 0.55 WHIP, 2 saves, 8 games

Previous ’14 winners: RHP Jordan Milbrath (April), RHP Robbie Aviles (May)

Class A (short season) Mahoning Valley

Player of the Month: OF Jorge Martinez
Stats: .283/.327/.522/.848, 2 HR, 6 XBH, 13 RBI, 6 R, 12 games

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Justin Garcia
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 10 IP, 4 K, 3 BB, .212 AVG, 0.78 WHIP, 4 games

Arizona (Rookie) League

Player of the Month: 1B Emmanuel Tapia
Stats: .391/.417/.652/1.069, 1 HR, 4 XBH, 6 RBI, 5 R, 6 games

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Thomas Pannone
Stats: 1-0, 2.00 ERA, 9 IP, 11 K, 2 BB, .156 AVG, 0.78 WHIP, 2 starts

Dominican Summer League

Player of the Month: OF Gabriel Mejia
Stats: .333/.444/.411/.856, 5 XBH, 10 RBI, 17 BB, 27 SB, 21 R, 25 games

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Cesar Ventura
Stats: 2-0, 1.54 ERA, 23.1 IP, 14 K, 5 BB, .184 AVG, 0.90 WHIP, 5 games (3 starts)

———————————

Month in review: April
Month in review: May

–JB

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