Smoke Signals: Tito’s Best April, De Jong’s Pull Party, and Trust in Goody

Cleveland (92.3 the Fan) – If for some reason Indians fans feel the need for another reason to be optimistic about their defending American League Champions, the team just finished their best April under the best manager in franchise history.

It was the first time a Terry Francona-led Indians team even finished over .500 in the opening month of the season.

With a record of 14-10 in 2017, Tito’s bunch far outdid their records of 10-11 in 2016, 7-14 in 2015, 10-17 in 2014, 11-13 in 2013.

Tribe center fielder Lonnie Chisenhall said not to discount the power of a strong start.

“These games count just as much as the ones in September,” he said after a 12-4 win over the Mariners. “We talk about it all the time, where we don’t want to be looking uphill at the end of the season. I know in ’13 we made a good run at the end, but it’s nice to have these close wins and win series and learn how to win those one-run ballgames and the way our bullpen has been pitching and some timely hitting, we won some games that are going to pay off for us in the long run.”

If Indians fans for some reason wanted a reason to be pessimistic, the last time the team finished above .500 in April, they finished 68-94, and Sandy Alomar Jr. finished the year as manager following the firing of Manny Acta.

“April is all about surviving,” Francisco Lindor said. “You don’t want to fall too behind. If you start off hot and continue to play hot, that’s great. You don’t want to fall too far behind and the way we played, it was awesome. There was a lot of ups and downs this month and everybody is healthy, which is the most important thing.”

The Indians have survived April, but now must build on the opening month.

Pull Party

The Indians were not making a concerted effort to pull the ball on Sunday, but it is what they did.

It was all they did for three innings.

The team had 11 hits in the first three frames, including their 8-run third, 9 of them from lefties, and the other pair from righty Roberto Perez.

Take a look at the pitch chart of Mariners starter Chase De Jong, who departed after just 2 2/3 IP.

chart 18 Smoke Signals: Titos Best April, De Jongs Pull Party, and Trust in Goody

Consider that Perez, who accounted for both hits left of center, pulled his first hit on a fastball low and away, and what you have is a good old-fashioned pull-apalooza.

The reason for De Jong getting turned on at every turn may have been the fact that his top velocity on the day was 92.2 mph.

Probably, it was the fact that the rookie left just about everything over the plate.

chart1 Smoke Signals: Titos Best April, De Jongs Pull Party, and Trust in Goody

“We just try to get the barrel to the ball, it just so happened it was to right field and the wind was blowing out that way,” Lindor said. “We’re not sitting at the plate saying, ‘We’re going to pull this ball because the wind is blowing out.’ I can’t hit like that, I don’t about the other guys, but I can’t hit like that. I wouldn’t be successful.”

Goody, Goody

The Tribe’s eight-run eruption in the third inning was almost not enough to put the game away. While the score-line indicates that the Mariners only scored four runs, therefore eight would have been plenty, Seattle very well could have scored plenty more.

Josh Tomlin got into trouble in the sixth, allowing two runs on four consecutive hits before being lifted for Boone Logan. Logan allowed two more runs on two more hits, recording no outs before he left.

Enter Nick Goody, who struck out pinch hitter Taylor Motter before inducing a lineout double-play from Carlos Ruiz, escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam.

“Those are the situations you want to go in as a reliever,” Goody said. “You want to go in and do your job and credit Frankie for being there and getting the double play, Roberto throwing down the right fingers. Just make pitches and hope that it works out for the best.”

Things have been working out for the best on a consistent basis for Goody, who struck out 58.8% of batters he faced in Triple-A Columbus, stranding 100% of runners who reached base and holding a nice WHIP of 0.69.

He has continued those trends in 7 1/3 innings at the big league level, striking out 30% of hitters, stranding 80% with a WHIP of 0.75.

The righty is continuing to earn trust from his manager.

“There’s certain types of hitters we’d like him to face if [it’s] a perfect world,” Francona said. “But you’re also getting to know him, too. It’s nice to see him come in with the bases loaded and still throw the ball the same way he throws when they’re not. Because that’s all part of getting to know somebody, but he’s definitely earning trust. “

More from Alex Hooper | 92.3 The Fan
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