Month in review: April

17489930-standardBefore Friday’s game at Progressive Field, music was blaring in the Indians’ clubhouse. Reporters had to request that the volume be reduced for a moment in order to conduct an interview. The point is this: one day after a rough loss to Toronto, the Tribe had good vibes flowing through the clubhouse.

After all, it was May 1. That alone was reason for optimism.

“I don’t ever want this place to be a morgue,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And that’s hard I think for fans to understand. They want to see the players grumpy and moping. Believe me, we care. But when you show up the next day, it doesn’t help to mope about last night’s loss. If I thought there was a way it helped, we’d do it. … When you show up the next day, it’s got to be the next day. Sometimes, that’s hard, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Or, when you show up the next month, it needs to be the next month.

“April’s over,” Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall said with a smile after a 9-4 win on Friday night.

For the second season in a row, April was not a memorable month for Cleveland. A fitting image for the way things went came when Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley accepted their Silver Slugger Awards a few weeks ago. Gomes (sidelined for six-to-eight weeks after a knee sprain on April 11) was on crutches and Brantley was out of the lineup that day due to a nagging back issue.

Cleveland lost Gomes to the injury, saw Carlos Carrasco take a line drive off the jaw (it only cost him a handful of days, thankfully) and dealt with rough starts from key players such as Michael Bourn, Jose Ramirez and Brandon Moss, among others. While the rotation had flashes of its great potential, the bullpen struggled and runs were scarce for the first four weeks.

“It’s early, but we can’t say that forever,” Indians outfielder David Murphy said after a loss in Detroit last month. “We don’t want to be in a situation that we were last September. And, you don’t want to have to think back to April and think, ‘Well, if we just would’ve picked up this win here or there.’ There’s definitely a sense of urgency.”

With the arrival of May, Cleveland will try to put the first month in the past, while attempting to chip away at the deficit created by the hot starts by the Tigers and Royals.

Here is a look back at the month that was for the Tribe…

Overall: 7-14
Record at home: 2-7
Record on road: 5-7

Offense (AL rank)

.238 AVG (13)
.302 OBP (10)
.373 SLG (11)
.675 OPS (11)
79 R (t-12)
168 H (t-12)
19 HR (t-8)
56 XBH (10)
77 RBI (12)
10 SB (11)
66 BB (8)
139 K (2)
263 TB (11)
1.4 WAR (11)

Notes: It was an anemic month for the Indians, who scored their fewest runs in a single month since plating only 77 in April of 2010. Prior to that, the next occurrence of 79 or fewer runs in a non-strike-shortened season was June 1991 (69). June of 1991 is also the last time Cleveland had 79 or fewer runs with an OPS of .675 or lower. That June, the Tribe had a .589 OPS. Oof.

Pitching (AL rank)

7 wins (t-14)
4.54 ERA (11)
4.88 rot. ERA (11)
4.03 rel. ERA (8)
4 saves (t-10)
184.1 IP (13)
17 HR (t-4)
74 BB t-11)
202 K (2)
.273 AVG (14)
1.46 WHIP (14)
3.53 FIP (4)
2.5 WAR (5)

Notes: This marked the first time since Sept. 2003 that the Indians had no more than seven wins and an ERA of 4.54 or better. This marked only the second time in team history that the club registered 200-plus strikeouts, but only won seven or fewer games. The only other time that happened was — shield your children’s eyes — August of 2012. I don’t need to remind you that the Tribe went 5-24 that month, right? Right. Didn’t think so.

Player of the Month: OF Michael Brantley
Stats: .339/.381/.458/.839, 7 2B, 7 RBI, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 K, 20 H, 15 games

Notes: Brantley missed a handful of games in early April with a back issue, but returned strong enough to fashion a solid month for the Tribe. He is the only Indians batter in the past 12 years to have a month with at least four walks, no more than three strikeouts and 20-plus hits. He also did that in Sept. 2012. The last Indians player other than Brantley to do so was Victor Martinez in Sept. 2003. v-Mart also had an .839 OPS that month. The last player to do that for the Tribe with at least a .458 slugging? Tony Fernandez in 1997.

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Trevor Bauer
Stats: 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 25 IP, 28 K, 13 BB, .174 AVG, 1.12 WHIP, 4 starts

Notes: Prior to Bauer, only six Indians pitchers had enjoyed an undefeated month that included at least 28 strikeouts, an ERA of 1.80 or lower and an opponents’ average of .174 or better. Bauer makes it seven. The others: Corey Kluber (June 2014), Cliff Lee (April 2008), Gaylord Perry (May and June 1974), Luis Tiant (Sept. 1968), Sonny Siebert (Aug. 1965) and Bob Feller (April 1939).

Reliever of the Month: LHP Nick Hagadone
Stats: 2.16 ERA, 8.1 IP, 11 K, 5 BB, .188 AVG, 1.32 WHIP, 10 games

Notes: It wasn’t a stellar month for the bullpen, but Hagadone had a solid showing for the Indians. He joined John Axford (July 2014), Vinnie Pestano (May 2011), Paul Assenmacher (Sept. 1997) and Derek Lilliquist (July 1992) as the only relievers in team history with 10-plus games, 11-plus strikeouts and a 2.20 ERA or better in no more than nine innings in a single month.

Game of the Month (hitter): OF Brandon Moss
April 24 at Tigers: 3-for-5, 2 HR, 1 2B, 7 RBIs, 10 total bases

Notes: Moss became the 15th player (18 times) to have at least two homers, seven RBIs and 10 total bases in a single game. The previous two occurrences were Lonnie Chisenhall (June 9 last year against Texas) and Shin-Soo Choo (Sept. 17, 2010 against the Royals). The last player to have such a game for Cleveland against Detroit was Bill Glynn on July 5, 1954.

Game of the Month (pitcher): RHP Trevor Bauer
April 9 at Astros: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 5 BB, 11 K, 78 Game Score

Notes: Bauer became the only Major League pitcher since at least 1914 to give up no hits and record 11-plus strikeouts in an outing lasting no more than six innings. He joined Len Barker (May 15, 1981), Dennis Eckersley (May 30, 1977) and Bob Feller (April 30, 1946) as the only pitchers in Cleveland history to give up no hits with at least 11 strikeouts in a start.

———————————————————————————–

Minor League standouts for April

Triple-A Columbus

Player of the Month: OF Tyler Holt
Stats: .328/.438/.393/.832, 3 XBH, 4 RBI, 12 BB, 12 R, 5 SB, 19 games

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Bruce Chen
Stats: 1.08 ERA, 25 IP, 17 K, 1 BB, .155 AVG, 0.56 WHIP, 4 starts

Double-A Akron

Player of the Month: OF Ollie Linton
Stats: .280/.400/.340/.740, 3 2B,  2 RBI, 8 R, 7 BB, 5 SB, 15 games

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Cody Anderson
Stats: 1.13 ERA, 24 IP, 18 K, 4 BB, .235 AVG, 1.00 WHIP, 4 starts

Class A (high) Lynchburg

Player of the Month: OF Brad Zimmer
Stats: .357/.452/.586/1.038, 4 HR, 8 XBH, 11 RBI, 15 R, 10 BB, 10 SB, 19 games

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Adam Plutko
Stats: 1.14 ERA, 23.2 IP, 19 K, 3 BB, .148 AVG, 0.63 WHIP, 4 starts

Class A (low) Lake County

Player of the Month: None
Stats: .191/.270/.281/.551 combined for the team

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Dace Kime
Stats: 1.85 ERA, 24.1 IP, 25 K, 3 BB, .218 AVG, 0.90 WHIP, 4 starts

–JB

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