Brewers right in the thick of it after April

Brewers right in the thick of it after April

CHICAGO -- With the first full month in the books and the Brewers offense still trying to get into gear, the team should be happy to stand in third place and within one good series of the National League Central leaders, general manager Doug Melvin said Thursday.

"We're fortunate, probably, to be where we're at when we haven't clicked on all cylinders," Melvin said. "I know the Cubs and Cardinals have both had good months, but they didn't run away from us. We're right there."

The Cubs (17-10) and Cardinals (18-11) both set franchise records for wins in April, but the Brewers woke up Thursday morning just two games back at 15-12.

That's despite some less-than-inspiring signs offensively. The Brewers ended April ranked 10th in the 16-team NL with a .710 on-base plus slugging percentage (the league average OPS was .735). They ranked 13th with 88 walks, 11th with a .247 batting average, 11th with a .318 on-base percentage and ninth with 126 runs scored.

The numbers were more discouraging against right-handed pitching, which isn't surprising since first baseman Prince Fielder is the team's only regular who bats from the left side of the plate. The Brewers ranked 14th with a .658 OPS and a .234 average against righties, though manager Ned Yost has tried to downplay the issue.

In the pitching department, the Brewers finished April ranked 12th with a 4.40 ERA, 13th with a 1.51 strikeouts to walks ratio and next-to-last in the NL with 122 walks.

Brewers starters were solid, ranking fifth with a 3.76 ERA. But the relievers ranked last in the league with a 4.88 ERA, last with 59 walks and last with 1.66 walks and hits per inning (WHIP).

Melvin was encouraged by the Brewers' 7-6 road record through the first month. Last year, they were 32-49 away from Miller Park for their eighth straight losing road record.

It's an especially important stat, Melvin said, since the Brewers played significantly fewer home games in the first month (13) than the Cardinals and Cubs (18 each). That's essentially one fewer homestand.

"I think our veteran players have helped us on the road," Melvin said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.