Tribe Rallies Early, Holds Off St. Louis Late; Indians 6, Browns 4
Mike B. | On 02, Mar 2016
September 12, 1948
The Cleveland Indians appear to be getting hot at the right time, now we’ll just have to see if enough time remains for the Tribe to chase down first place.
This afternoon the Indians did what a pennant contender should do, putting away the lowly St. Louis Browns early by plating five runs in the first four innings. They used the early lead to hold off a late rally from the Brownies to win 6-4 in front of 55,616 believers at Municipal Stadium. It was the Indians’ seventh straight triumph.
The win, combined with Boston’s 10-4 loss to the Philadelphia Athletics, gets the Tribe back to just two and a half games in back in the standings. Neither Boston nor New York play a second game this afternoon, so a second day of sweeping the Browns could further cut into the Red Sox’s first place lead.
Both starting pitchers, the Indians’ Satchel Paige and Browns’ Karl Drews, struggled early against the opposition, but it was the Tribe who was better at taking advantage of the gifts they received. Cleveland drew first blood in the bottom of the second when Drews set up the rally due to his wildness. Wally Judnich and Jim Hegan each walked to start the inning. After Paige flew to center field and Dale Mitchell grounded out to the right side – advancing the runners – Thurman Tucker slapped a single to left field to score both runners and give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
St. Louis answered right back in the top of the third to tie the game. Paige walked his pitching counterpart, Drews, with one out. Then Bob Dillinger singled to center field to put a pair on the base paths. They both came running home when Al Zarilla doubled to left and tied the game at two.
Drews remained ineffective, however, struggling with his control in the bottom of the third inning. Joe Gordon walked to leadoff the inning and stole second before Ken Keltner struck out and Lou Boudreau grounded to shortstop. Then Judnich walked before Hegan singled to left field to bring home Gordon and give the Indians a 3-2 lead.
Hegan has caught every inning in the first three games of this two-day, four-game series.
Cleveland added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth and sent Drews to the showers early on this Sunday afternoon contest. Mitchell singled to left field to start the inning and after walks to Tucker and Allie Clark, Browns manager Zack Taylor had seen enough of Drews and summoned for Cleveland-native, Al Widmar.
Gordon greeted Widmar with a double off the left field wall and both Tucker and Mitchell scored, giving the Indians a 5-2 lead. Cleveland could have had more, but Keltner grounded back to Widmar, Boudreau flew out to left and after Judnich was intentionally walked, Hegan grounded into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
Drews (4-5) struggled with control all afternoon, walking eight Tribesmen in three innings. He allowed just four hits, but issued five runs while striking out three.
Paige was not much better this afternoon and Boudreau’s quick hook of the ageless Alabaman may have been the only difference between he and Drew. Paige gave up a double to Widmar and a single to Dillinger to start the top of the fifth inning. With two on and no one out, Boudreau sent for former Brownie, Sam Zoldak.
Zoldak got Zarilla to ground into a fielder’s choice at second and Widmar had to hold at third. Jerry Priddy walked to load the bases before Don Lund hit a pinch-hit single that plated Widmar and cut the Indians lead to just 5-3. Hank Arft grounded to Gordon to start an inning-ending double play to end the rally.
Paige allowed three runs in four innings of work on five hits and two walks. He struck out three. It is the second straight start he has been knocked out of the box early by the Browns. He had struggled of late in relief situations, too, allowing runs in his last two relief appearances.
Zoldak (10-9), however, has thrived in recent relief opportunities. This afternoon he scattered six hits in four and two-third relief innings, allowing just a run with a walk and strikeout. It was his eighth win with the Tribe this season and third in relief in the last five days.
Cleveland added a run in the bottom of the eighth inning when Mitchell singled to left field with one out. He promptly stole second base and advanced to third when Widmar uncorked a wild pitch. After Tucker lined out to right field, Clark doubled to left, bringing Mitchell home and extending the lead to 6-3.
The extra run made the ninth inning less eventful. With one out, Dillinger doubled to right field. After Zarilla struck out, Priddy also doubled, bringing Dillinger around to make it 6-4 in favor of Cleveland. Boudreau again was proactive, relieving Zoldak for Russ Christopher. The gangly sidewinder got Lund to fly out to center field to end the game for his 16th save.
St. Louis outhit Cleveland, eleven to seven, but the Tribe made the most of their offense and benefited from the early walks by Drews. Mitchell and Tucker each had two hits while Tucker and Gordon each drove home a pair of runs.
Cleveland can cut their first place deficit down to two games with a win in the second half of the twin bill this afternoon. The Tribe has already taken three games from St. Louis this weekend and will look to make it four when Bob Feller (15-14, 3.98) takes on Blackie Schwamb (1-1, 9.62). It will be Schwamb’s first start since August 8.