Today In Tribe History: September 18, 1954, Indians Clinch Pennant
By Vince Guerrieri
On Sept. 18, 1954, 57 years ago today, the Indians clinched the American League pennant on the way to making league history.
The Tribe was taking on the Tigers at what was then called Briggs Stadium in Detroit. The Tigers got out to a 1-0 lead after Indians starter Early Wynn gave up a sacrifice fly to Ray Boone, scoring Harvey Kuenn in the bottom of the third inning.
But the Indians took the lead in grand style in the top of the seventh, when Dale Mitchell was called in to pinch-hit for shortstop George Strickland, with Dave Philley on first after a walk. Mitchell belted the second pitch he saw for a home run, giving the Tribe a 2-1 lead. The next batter, Jim Hegan, put one in the seats as well, a solo shot to give Cleveland a 3-1 lead.
Wynn would walk the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, and then walk Jim Delsing to score Bill Tuttle, making it a one-run game. Manager Al Lopez made a pitching change, bringing in Ray Narleski, who got Boone to ground out to third baseman Al Rosen, ending the scoring threat.
The Indians held on to the 3-2 win, their ninth straight, and with it, clinched the American League pennant. A week later, the Indians would win their American League record 111th game, breaking the mark set by the fearsome 1927 Yankees.
It was the second pennant the Tribe had won in six years – the only team other than the Yankees between 1946 and 1958 to win the AL flag – and would be the last one for 41 years.