May 7, 1948
Desperate for a win and to snap a losing streak that is starting to grow as big as their original winning streak, Bob Lemon toiled a four-hit shutout for the Indians Friday evening in their first night game of the season, blanking the Washington Senators 8-0.
The Cleveland right-hander was in complete control from start to finish in the Capital’s cool air. He picked up his third win of the season, using his curveball to retire the last 10 consecutive hitters of the game. Lemon also helped the Tribe offense with three hits of his own. The Tribe produced their eight runs in three big innings.
Cleveland took the lead and never looked back in the top of the third inning. Lemon started the inning with a single to center field followed by a walk by Thurman Tucker to put runners on first and second with no one out against Nats’ pitcher Mickey Haefner. Allie Clark — hitting second for the first time this season — tried to sacrifice the runners over, but Lemon was forced out at third base for the first out of the inning.
Manager Lou Boudreau was next in the Tribe order, and laced a single to right field to score Tucker from second base and give the Indians an early 1-0 lead and advance Clark to third base. Eddie Robinson followed with a slow roller down the first base line, and Clark’s immediate dash to the plate on contact allowed him to slide under Haefner’s throw home to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead with only one out and runners still on first and second. Haefner was able to retire Joe Gordon and Pat Seerey on fly balls to left field and limit the damage to two runs.
The Tribe blew the game open and ended Haefner’s evening in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Clark drove a ball 420 feet to the lower section of the left field stands for a solo home run. It was his first home run of the season and only second of his career. Boudreau followed with a walk and after Robinson flew out to right field, Gordon trumped Clark’s blast by about 20 feet and drove himself and Boudreau home to make the score 5-0, Tribe. It was Gordon’s second home run of the season and second in as many days. Before yesterday’s blast he had been mired in a slump to start the season. Gordon had three hits this evening and has raised his average to .265 since heating up.
The three-run inning ended Haefner’s (1-3) evening after only five frames. He allowed five hits, five runs — four earned — while walking four and striking out three. The southpaw used his slow curveballs to beat the Indians in his only start against them a year ago. Cleveland did not hit a home run at Griffith Park all season in 1947. The two blasts this evening give the Tribe 18 round-trippers on the season and lead in the American League. Marino Pieretti pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Haefner. He scattered four hits.
Cleveland tacked on in the top of the ninth inning when Forrest Thompson came on to pitch for the Senators. After retiring Clark, Boudreau and Robinson cracked back-to-back singles to set the table. Gordon doubled home Boudreau from second and advanced Robinson to third base for his third hit and third run batted in on the evening. Seerey, making his first start of the season in right field, followed with a single to left field to score both Robinson and Gordon and give the Indians a final 8-0 lead for the record books. Thompson was charged with all three runs allowed in the ninth inning.
Lemon (3-1), while cracking three hits, proceeded to only allow only four over nine innings. The right-hander took the team lead in victories when he only walked two and struck out five. Of Lemon’s four hits, only a single in the fifth inning by Senators’ catcher Jake Early was a solid smash to the outfield. The other three were infield dribblers that were tough plays on the cool, damp evening infield.
The victory makes the Tribe 7-4 on the season and moves them into second place in the American League, just a mire seven percentage points behind the first place Philadelphia Athletics.
Cleveland will try to sweep the short two-game series on Saturday afternoon, when rookie southpaw Gene Bearden takes the mound. Bearden has not appeared on the mound yet this year for the wig-wammers in regular season play, but was regarded highly during the exhibition season. He’ll be matched up against the Senators’ Sid Hudson (1-1).