By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: The Indians continue to scrounge for runs.
With five games left before the calendar turns over to September, August promises to be the Tribe’ least productive month at the plate, and despite sweeping the Angels and winning two of three from the Twins in its past two series, the team’s record this month is a modest 12-11.
The Indians have scored an average of 3.6 runs in August and have been held to three or fewer 12 times. The club’s batting average in this month has sunk to .227.
But thanks to 22 home runs, which have accounted for 40 percent of the team’s scoring, the offense has stayed afloat.
The Indians’ highest monthly run average was 5.0 in April, but it has fallen almost every month since. In May, the club averaged 4.9 runs, in June the figure was 4.6 and in July 4.7.
In August, the Tribe’s on-base percentage is a lowly .292 with a slugging percentage to match (.360).
Nick Swisher has picked up his production at the plate recently, but Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana have been fighting slumps. Moreover, Ryan Raburn hasn’t played since Aug. 18 because of heel and calf problems.
Though Swisher is batting only .231 for the month, he has hit four homers and driven in 13 runs. Kipnis is batting .253 in August with one home run and 10 RBI.
Brantley is batting .211 with seven RBI, and Santana is batting .225 with four home runs and nine RBI.
“Usually, pitching and defense keep us in games,’’ said Drew Stubbs, who had the game-winning homer in the Indians’ 3-1 win over the Twins on Sunday. “Today, the defense had a tough day.’’
When four errors aren’t enough to turn the game around, you know it’s a good day for the Tribe.
Stubbs is right about pitching being the key to the Indians’ hopes for making the postseason.
The starters’ ERA in August is a respectable 3.80, and the relievers have posted a 2.84 ERA.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.