Big Fourth Inning Takes Lemon to 12th Win of Season; Indians 6, Tigers 3
Mike B. | On 24, Dec 2015
July 5, 1948
Be careful what you wish for youngster, you might get it.
The Cleveland Indians used a five-run fourth inning to take control of the game and send Art Houtteman to his eleventh loss of the season while Bob Lemon earned his 12th victory. The Tribe won 6-3 in the first game of a holiday doubleheader at Cleveland Stadium.
After originally being slated to pitch the second game of the doubleheader, Houtteman begged his manager, Steve O’Neill, for another chance to pitch against Tribe hurler, Lemon. The two matched up last Wednesday when Lemon threw a no-hitter at Briggs Stadium. This time, Houtteman did not pitch as well his previous outing against the Tribe when he only allowed two runs over nine innings.
“Houtteman came to me and said he wanted a chance to prove he could beat Lemon,” O’Neill said. “So I told him to go ahead if that was the way he felt about it. He didn’t do so badly either until Gordon hit that homer and Mitchell got that triple.”
Houtteman and the Tigers took an early lead in the second inning when the 20-year-old hurler helped himself at the plate. Hoot Evers singled off of Lemon to start the inning and after Pat Mullin flied out, Sam Vico was hit by a pitch and Bob Swift walked to load the bases. With just one out, Houtteman lined a single to center field to score Evers and give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. Lemon induced Johnny Lipon to ground to second base that became an easy double play to end the inning and minimize the damage.
Cleveland quickly tied the score in the bottom half of the inning when Ken Keltner hit a solo home run to the seats in left field to tie the game. Keltner’s 18th home run of the season evened the score at one apiece.
The Indians took control in the bottom of the fourth inning, benefiting from the long ball and some shaky control from Houtteman. Eddie Robinson singled with one out and quickly trotted home when Joe Gordon hit a home run over the left field wall, making the score 3-1. Gordon’s 16th homer keeps him just two in back of Keltner for the team lead.
The rally continued in the fourth inning with two outs, however. Back-to-back walks by Wally Judnich and Jim Hegan, then a single by Lemon, loaded the bases. Dale Mitchell tripled over Evers’ head in center field and everyone came running home to extend the Indian lead to 6-1. Houtteman (2-11) finished the inning, but was charged with all six runs in four innings of work while scattering five hits and walking three. The two round-trippers were the center of Houtteman’s plight.
It would be all the offense Lemon would need to cruise to his 12th victory. He was in control of the game early, but did not have the same command or control that he had five days ago when he threw his no-hitter in Detroit.
“Hegan and I were just talking about whether I had as much stuff today as when I pitched that no-hitter,” Lemon said. “We agreed that I did, but that I didn’t have as good control over my curve today as I had that night.”
Lemon allowed single tallies in both the sixth and seventh inning. In the sixth, George Kell doubled to left field to start the inning and hustled home with one out when Evers singled to right field. An error by Gordon at second base allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base in the seventh, and after Neil Berry pinch-ran, he hustled home from first base when Vic Wertz hit a pinch-hit double down the left field line.
Wertz’s double cut the Indian lead to 6-3, but Lemon buckled down and retired the next nine hitters to end the game. Lemon (12-6) retakes his place atop the major’s lead in pitching victories after scattering nine hits and three runs – only two earned – while walking one and striking out one.
Stubby Overmire and Hal White each pitched two solid innings of relief for the Tigers, allowing just one hit to the Tribe in the last four frames. Offensively, the Indians used Gordon and Keltner’s home runs and Mitchell’s triple to do their damage, but Robinson chipped in with two hits of his own.
Cleveland will look to sweep the doubleheader and start their homestand off right, when Sam Zoldak (4-5, 4.07) takes the mound in the second game against Detroit’s Fred Hutchinson (3-3, 4.33). Hutchinson originally was supposed to start against Lemon before Houtteman asked for the second chance.