Tribe Wins Thriller in 11 Innings; Indians 7, Senators 6
Mike B. | On 23, Dec 2013
July 19, 1948
It took 19 Tribesmen, 16 Nats, 10 total pitchers and two hours and 54 minutes to play the 11-inning thriller, but after each team blew three-run leads, it was the Cleveland Indians who defeated the Washington Senators, 7-6.
Cleveland’s third straight win in the Capital City didn’t come easy, however. After scoring three runs in the first inning, Bob Lemon was knocked out of the box in the second inning. After pitching an inning and one-third in relief yesterday, it was apparent he did not have his best stuff today. At that point, the Tribe had to battle into extras to comeback and earn their victory.
The Tribe struck quickly against Washington’s starter, southpaw Forrest Thompson. Dale Mitchell reached on an infield single to start the game and extend his hitting streak to 16 games. After Wally Judnich hit into a fielder’s choice and Allie Clark hit a fly ball to left field, Lou Boudreau singled on the infield to put two on and two out. Joe Gordon’s 18th home run of the season did more than leave the infield, it traveled 425-feet, landing in the bleachers and giving the Indians an early 3-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived though, because after Lemon worked a three-up, three-down first inning, the Nats erupted for five runs in the second inning. Lemon allowed four hits in the inning, a leadoff single to Bud Stewart, followed by a triple to Mickey Vernon, single to Al Kozar and triple to Thompson. After six hitters in the second inning, and just one out, Boudreau summoned Ed Klieman from the bullpen to relieve Lemon.
Klieman allowed a run scoring single to Gil Coan that allowed Thompson to touch home and give Washington a 5-3 lead after two innings. It also closed the book on Lemon and his worst start of the year to date. Lemon lasted only one and one-third innings, allowing five runs on four hits, a walk and a strikeout.
Washington extended their lead in the bottom of the third inning when Stewart logged his second hit of the afternoon, followed by Mark Christman bunting him to second base and Vernon singling him home. The two singles and sacrifice bunt staked Washington to their own three run lead, on top 6-3.
Thompson and the Senators held the Tribe at bay until the top of the sixth when they erupted for three more runs to tie the game. If not for a bad call by plate umpire Joe Paparella, they would have taken the lead. Boudreau walked to start the inning and Gordon singled to left field to put runners on first and second base, with no one out. Ken Keltner started the scoring when he singled to center field and Boudreau scampered home, cutting the deficit to 6-4.
After Eddie Robinson struck out for the first out of the inning, Jim Hegan tied the game when he tripled to deep center field and chased Gordon and Keltner home to tie the game at six runs apiece. The Tribe could have taken the lead when Joe Tipton pinch-hit for Klieman and lined out to left field. Hegan tagged and came charging home, but Coan’s throw from the outfield was just in time to nail him according to Paparella. The Cleveland bench disagreed, shouting profusely at the home plate ump, but he did not change his call and the inning ended with the game deadlocked.
Thompson’s night ended after seven innings, scattering 11 hits while allowing six runs and walking one hitter. Dick Welteroth worked the next two innings, not allowing a hit to the Tribe, just walking two.
Russ Christopher pitched the sixth and seventh innings, logging zeros to the scoreboard before Hal Peck pinch-hit for him in the top of the eighth. Satchel Paige took over in the eighth inning and walked the tight rope immediately. Stewart laced another hit to right field to start the inning and was again bunted over by Christman. Boudreau and the boys decided to walk Vernon to set up a force play and double play opportunity, but Paige uncorked a wild pitch and both runners moved to scoring position with just one out.
The lanky right-handed reliever was able to get Al Kozar to pop up to second base and Al Evans to fly out to center field to end the inning. Kozar’s pop out on the infield was the key out of the inning as the Tribe had pulled the infield in. Paige worked the ninth inning without event.
Tom Ferrick took over for Welteroth in the tenth inning after he was removed for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning. After blanking the Tribe in the tenth, Cleveland danced with defeat in the bottom half.
Stewart doubled to left field for his fifth hit of the game to start the tenth inning. After Paige intentionally walked Christman, Boudreau replaced him with Sam Zoldak. The left-handed Zoldak came on to match up with the left-handed hitting Vernon, who flied out to deep right field for the first out. Stewart was able to advance to third base without a serious throw from Allie Clark.
Boudreau then went back to his bullpen and also to his bench. He brought Steve Gromek in to pitch, getting a righty versus righty matchup against Kozar, but also entered Larry Doby in center field and Bob Kennedy in right field. Doby replaced Judnich and Kennedy replaced Clark because they each had stronger throwing arms. The skipper’s managerial moves paid off when Kozar flew out to right field and Kennedy threw Stewart out at the plate, ending the inning, keeping the game alive and the score tied to finish the tenth inning.
Like the old adage, that if you make a good defensive play, you’ll make a good offensive one the next inning, Kennedy continued to make Washington pay. With one out Mitchell singled for his fourth hit of the game. Doby, having replaced Judnich, grounded into a fielder’s choice that erased Mitchell. Doby quickly stole second base before Kennedy singled to left field, allowing Doby to gallop home and the Indians to take the lead, 7-6.
The final three outs weren’t easy, however. After Gromek struck out Evans to start the inning, pinch-hitter Junior Wooten singled to center field and Eddie Yost followed with a double to right field. With runners on second and third base and just one out, Boudreau called upon his seventh pitcher of the game, Gene Bearden.
Bearden intentionally walked pinch-hitter Tom McBride to load the bases and set up a double play opportunity. Cleveland got their double play, but not the conventional way. Carden Gillenwater hit a looping fly ball over the infield, but Mitchell made a fine running catch with his momentum headed toward the infield. Wooten bolted from third base to the plate, but Mitchell’s throw was in plenty of time to end the game and give the Tribe a marathon victory.
Gromek (4-1) earned the victory in relief, allowing two runs and striking out one, while Bearden logged his first save of the season. Ferrick (1-2) was saddled with the loss for Washington. He allowed a run in two innings of relief.
The Indian offense knocked out 13 hits, featured by Mitchell’s four, but only Gordon had more than one among all other wig-wammers. Gordon added a single to his first inning homer and three runs batted in. Likewise, Washington had 16 base hits — including five by Stewart.
The late-night win kept the Indians a full game ahead of the Philadelphia Athletics in the standings and three and a half games ahead of the New York Yankees. The Boston Red Sox continue to surge, remaining just five and a half games back.
Tomorrow night the Indians will finish their four game series in Washington when Don Black (2-1, 6.27) will try to help issue the sweep of the Nats. Right-hander, Ray Scarborough (6-5, 3.11) will try to salvage a game for Washington, who is firmly in sixth place in the standings.