Tribe Sweeps Twin Bill, Trails Boston by Just Half Game; Indians 2, Athletics 0
Mike B. | On 09, Mar 2016
September 19, 1948
Cleveland, we have a pennant race.
Just five days ago the Cleveland Indians trailed the Boston Red Sox by four games and were mired in third place. But riding a five-game winning streak, the Indians took a pair of games this afternoon from the Philadelphia Athletics and cut their deficit in the American League standings to just a half game.
The Tribe won the second game this afternoon, just 2-0, on the aid of two Lou Boudreau home runs and a shutout performance by Steve Gromek. Boudreau’s 15th and 16th homers were the first time in eight years the Indians’ player-manager has hit two bombs in a game. His two homers were the first in a game since he did the feat in Detroit in 1940 and were his 100th and 101st runs batted in this season.
Gromek earned his ninth victory of the season and became the Tribe’s seventh starting pitcher to record a shutout this season. He allowed just three hits and no walks in nine innings. If not for his own error, no Mackmen would have advanced past second base.
Some of the loudest cheers of the afternoon came in the second inning when the center field scoreboard updated results from around the league. When Boston’s first loss of the day, a 4-3 defeat to the Detroit Tigers, was posted the crowd of 75,382 let out a loud applause. Ten minutes later when New York’s loss, a 8-6 beating from St. Louis, was posted the crowd again erupted knowing the Indians had made a full game on both teams when Larry Doby hit a walkoff home run to win the first game of the doubleheader for the Tribe.
In the fourth inning the Indians started their climb towards another game in the standings. Boudreau hit his first homer, a leadoff shot to left field, off Athletics’ Dick Fowler. The home run gave the Indians a 1-0 lead and Boudreau’s 100 run batted in this season.
Two innings late in the bottom of the sixth inning, Boudreau again sent a souvenir to the left field seats when his second homer made it 2-0, Cleveland. It would be all the offense the Tribe would muster off Fowler, but all they would need. Boudreau’s 101st run batted in ties his career high, set in 1940.
Gromek (9-3) was in complete control of the game, allowing just three hits. Ferris Fain tagged Gromek for two singles, one each in the first and fourth innings. Sam Chapman singled to left field in the third inning. Fain’s single in the fourth inning was the last hit and second to last base runner in the game. Mike Guerra hit a chopper back to Gromek in the eighth inning, but he threw wildly over Wally Judnich’s head. Guerra raced all the way around to third base, but Gromek struck out Pete Suder and got Fowler on a ground ball to end the inning.
Fowler (15-7) was a tough-luck loser, pitching eight innings and allowing just five hits and the two home runs to Boudreau. His effort was better than many of his 15 victories this season, but not enough to out-pitch Gromek today. Thurman Tucker, Doby and Gromek each logged a hit in addition to Boudreau’s two bombs.
Cleveland made strides in both the standings and the box office this afternoon.
“With today’s attendance of 75,382, a new all-time home attendance record for the major leagues is established – 2,300,893 for which I and the ball club wish to say thanks a million,” shared owner Bill Veeck to the crowd in attendance.
Cleveland and New York will likely break the old mark, set in 1946 by the Yankees of 2,265,512. With two games remaining in this homestand – including Don Black Night – and five games to end the season, the Indians should challenge 2.5 million fans for the first time in baseball history.
The delighted crowd took to the field after the conclusion of the second game. Patrons were unaware of the Red Sox’s or Yankees’ second game results, but they happily congratulated Tribe players as they felt the team was closing in on the top spot. Indeed fans were right – the Red Sox lost their second game of the day while New York salvaged a split.
The Tribe’s sweep, combined with Boston’s double setback, catapulted the Indians into second place and just a half game back of the Red Sox. New York falls to third place but is just a game back.
Cleveland has just ten games remaining, but may control their destiny again. Monday night the Athletics and Indians close their season series with the third matchup of Purple Heart recipients this year. Southpaw rookie Gene Bearden (15-7, 2.70) will take the mound for the Indians while Philadelphia will answer with their own rookie left-hander, Lou Brissie (14-9, 4.10).