May 21, 1948
Last night the Indians walked to a victory. This afternoon the Boston Red Sox hit back to even the series. Boston used 18 hits — equal to the amount of walks the Indians drew last night — poor Indian defense and a strong wind off the lake to win 11-5 Friday afternoon.
Bill Kennedy was unable to recreate his first starting performance for the Tribe, and Ted Williams was 4 for 4, with two RBI and two walks to lead Boston in the matinee. The Splendid Splinter laced three singles around a mammoth home run in the sixth inning that landed in the right field upper deck. The crowd of 8,409 enjoyed a sunny afternoon for five innings before clouds and a stiff breeze entered the Stadium and sent many fans home early.
“Cleveland pitching always has been tough for me, so those hits today felt particularly good,” Williams said.
The Indians led in the first inning when they plated two early runs. Thurman Tucker and Larry Doby started the bottom of the first each with walks before Lou Boudreau grounded out to the right side to move both runners to scoring position. After Eddie Robinson was intentionally walked to load the bases, Joe Gordon singled to left field scoring Tucker and Doby, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead.
However, after a shaky first inning where Kennedy needed a double play to avoid trouble, the Red Sox quickly ended his day when they evened the score. Bobby Doerr singled to right field to start the inning. Sam Mele followed with a single to right field, but Doby tried to barehand the ball and instead let it get by him. Doby was charged an error, Doerr scored all the way from first base and Mele stopped at third. Matt Batts quickly drove Mele home to tie the score at two apiece. When Kennedy walked Jake Jones, Boudreau saw enough and pulled him from the game.
Kennedy faced four hitters in the second inning, retiring none. Officially, he pitched one inning, allowing five hits and two runs, while walking one and striking out one. On Sunday, Kennedy gave the Indians seven, strong innings against the Chicago White Sox in his first career start. His second start was much shorter. Al Gettel came on in relief of Kennedy.
Gettel was able to end the second inning without further damage, but he made plenty of trouble on his own beginning in the third inning. Williams and Vern Stephens started the inning with back-to-back singles. Doerr tried to bunt the runners over, but Jim Hegan pounced on the ball in front of the plate and cut Williams down at third base. Mele followed with a single up the middle, however, to drive in Stephens. Doerr advanced to third base and Mele to second on the throw.
Batts was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out before Jones flew out to center field. The fly ball was deep enough to score Doerr and the Red Sox had a 4-2 lead.
Cleveland answered right back with singles by Boudreau and Robinson to start the bottom of the third inning and put runners on the corners. Gordon grounded into a double play to allow Boudreau to score, but killing any further rally. Cleveland trailed 4-3 after three full innings.
Boston took control of the game for good in the top of the fourth inning and ended Gettel’s afternoon. Gettel walked Dom DiMaggio to start the inning. Billy Goodman hit a fly ball to right field that Doby misjudged and was scored a triple and scored Dimaggio. Williams and Doerr each walked, sandwiched around Stephens’ strikeout, to load the bases with one out. Mele flew out to shallow right field and Doby was able to make the play, keeping the runners from advancing, but Batts issued the crushing blow — a single to center scoring two — and extending the Boston lead to 7-3.
It also ended the afternoon for Gettel (0-1), who has not survived three full innings in any appearance this season. Today, he pitched two and two-thirds innings, allowing five runs on five hits, four walks and two strikeouts. The bullpen has bailed Gettel out of his putrid starts, but he could not do the same for Kennedy today. With his rising 17.55 ERA, time must be running out for him to have a role with the Tribe pitching staff this season.
Steve Gromek finishes the fourth inning on the mound for the Tribe and pitched a clean fifth inning. While Gromek was settling in to the game, Mother Nature dropped the temperature about 20 degrees and a stiff breeze blew in off the lake. The climate change began in the fourth inning, likely helping Doby misplay Goodman’s triple, but was in full affect when Williams crushed a solo home run to right field to lead off the sixth inning. The mega blast carried all the way to the upper deck in right field with the help of the stiff Lake Erie breeze, extending the Red Sox lead to 8-3. The homer was Williams’ eighth on the season.
“Just about as long a ball as I’ve ever hit,” Williams said.
His upper deck blast joins a select group to have hit a ball to the upper deck. First baseman George McQuinn of the New York Yankees was the last to do it on July 16, 1947. Dale Mitchell and Jeff Heath have found the right field upper deck. Pat Seerey and Rudy York have hit balls to the left field upper deck. Only Seerey has done it twice.
All four of Williams’ hits were to the right side, through the Boudreau Shift. Boudreau began playing three infielders on the right side of the infield two years ago when Williams is at the plate. Normally Boudreau moves to the first base side of second base, while Gordon deepens into the outfield. The unconventional method did not work today as he raised his season average to .369.
Gromek allowed solo runs in the seventh and eighth innings on RBI singles from Goodman and Dimaggio, respectively. While not his best effort of the season, Gromek did help rest the remainder of the bullpen by going four and one-third innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, one walk and four strikeouts. Ed Klieman pitched the final frame with no trouble.
After a shaky start to the game, Dobson was able to slow the Tribe bats and allow the Red Sox to take control of the game. After the third inning, Dobson’s only trouble was a single to Tucker to lead off the seventh inning followed by a home run from Doby. Doby’s sixth homer of the season was almost blown foul by the wind, but instead hit the screen attached to the foul pole.
Dobson (3-3) went the distance for Boston, scattering 12 hits and allowing five runs. He walked four and struck out five, but pitched well enough to ride the Red Sox 18 hits and 11 runs of offense to his third win of the season.
“That cross wind had curveballs drifting in the early innings,” Dobson said. “Then in the last part of the game the cold tightened me up.”
With Philadelphia’s 9-6 victory in Detroit this afternoon, the Indians lead in the American League is cut to just one-half of a game. The Indians will try to take the rubber match of the series on Saturday afternoon when Gene Bearden (2-0) takes the mound for Cleveland. He’ll be opposed by Jack Kramer (1-2) from Boston. Saturday is Ladies’ Day at Cleveland Stadium before the New York Yankees arrive in Cleveland for a Sunday doubleheader.