Yankees Halt Tribe, Stop Late Rally; Yankees 6, Indians 5
Mike B. | On 18, Feb 2014
For even the biggest believers in the Cleveland Indians, the pennant hopes for 1948 are starting to flicker a little less brightly.
This afternoon the Indians lost their final matchup of the season with the New York Yankees, losing 6-5 in front of 34,064 fans at Cleveland Stadium. Bob Lemon suffered his third loss of the season against the Bronx Bombers when he couldn’t survive a four-run rally by New York in the seventh inning. Eddie Lopat, the Tribe’s nemesis for years, logged his fifth win of the season against Cleveland.
The loss for Cleveland drops them four games back of league leading Boston and two back of the Yankees, who seem cozy in second place. With only 15 games remaining, overcoming a four game deficit and chasing down two teams seems to be a more daunting task with each passing day.
The two teams traded opening blows in the first inning. Snuffy Stirnweiss walked off Lemon to start the game. After Tommy Henrich struck out, Yogi Berra grounded to shortstop to force out Stirnweiss. Joe DiMaggio then singled Berra to second base and hustled home when Bobby Brown singled to right field, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
Cleveland answered back in the bottom half of the inning when Allie Clark blasted his eighth home run of the season. The blast flew well over the left field fence and kept Clark’s dominance over left-handed pitchers and tied the score at one.
New York retook the lead in the top of the fourth inning when DiMaggio singled to right field to start the frame and hustled home on Brown’s double to left field. George McQuinn singled to right field for the third straight hit and sent the Indians’ bullpen into action. Lemon settled down to strike out the last two hitters of the inning and keepin the Yankees’ lead at just 2-1.
The Tribe took the lead on the Yankees and Lopat in the bottom of the sixth when Dale Mitchell and Clark started the inning with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners. Player-manager Lou Boudreau flew to right field deep enough to score Mitchell and tie the game. A hitter later the Indians took the lead when Joe Gordon hit a home run into the left field seats, making it 4-2 Indians. Gordon’s 27th homer of the season gave the Indians the lead in the game and also the team lead for bombs.
Cleveland’s lead was very short-lived, however. Gus Niarhos tripled when Mitchell tried to make a shoe-string catch. Charlie Keller pinch-hit for Lopat and blasted a two-run homer into the right field seats to tie the game at four. It was Keller’s sixth homer and second pinch-hit round tripper of the season. After Stirnweiss walked, Boudreau retired Lemon for the afternoon and called upon Ed Klieman.
Klieman, who is normally reliable out of the Indians’ bullpen, could not slow down the Yankee attack. Henrich welcomed Kleiman to the game with a single to center field to put runners on the corners, still with no one out. Berra flew out to right field, allowing Stirnweiss to trot home and give the Yankees the lead. DiMaggio was hit by a pitch and had to be removed for pinch-runner, Hank Bauer before Brown singled to left field. Henrich scored on Brown’s base hit and the Yankees led, 6-4.
Boudreau sent Klieman to the dugout and summoned Russ Christopher to the center of the diamond. After walking McQuinn to load the bases, Christopher got Phil Rizzuto to ground into a double play with the infield drawn in. Keltner threw home to Jim Hegan at the plate, who relayed to Wally Judnich at first base to end the inning without further damage.
Keller’s pinch-hit homer took Lopat (16-9) out of the game. The southpaw nemesis of the Indians pitched six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk while walking one. Bob Porterfield took over for the Yankees, pitching into the ninth inning.
In the ninth, the Indians made one last rally, to try and win the game. Ken Keltner started the inning with a single to left field off Porterfield. Thurman Tucker grounded to short to force out Keltner at second base, but Judnich got the tying runs on base when he singled to center field.
With two on and only one out, Yankees manager Bucky Harris relieved Porterfield for Joe Page. Boudreau had already inserted Larry Doby as a pinch-hitter, but when Harris brought in the lefty Page, he countered with right-handed hitter Bob Kennedy.
Kennedy dropped a looping single to right field, but Tucker had to freeze between second and third base to make sure the ball was not caught. Tucker froze at third base, loading the bases, before Joe Tipton pinch-hit for Satchel Paige. Paige had pitched hitless baseball in the eighth and ninth innings for the Tribe. Tipton flew to right field, scoring Tucker and cutting the lead to 6-5.
With the tying run on second base, Mitchell grounded to Rizzuto at shortstop who flipped to second base for the final out of the game.
Lemon (20-12) suffers the loss, pitching just six innings, allowing five runs and ten hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
The win gives New York a 12-10 victory in the season series against the Indians. The 34,064 spectators at the stadium brought the total attendance for the New York-Cleveland games this year to 889,210, believed to be an all-time record. Of that total 446,401 were paid admissions in Cleveland.
Boudreau went hitless in four at bats and saw his average drop to .358. His recent 2 for 20 slump has dropped him off Ted Williams’ .371 average and will likely cost Boudreau a chance at the batting title.
Both Cleveland and New York are idle tomorrow, while the Red Sox play in Chicago. When the Indians take the field on Thursday night against the Washington Senators Gene Bearden (14-7, 2.68) is expected to start. He’ll be opposed by the Nats’ right-hander, Sid Hudson (4-15, 5.82).