May 22, 1948
There are moments for every rookie looking to break into big league baseball and make a name for himself, moments that define you as mainstay or just a flash in the pan.
Saturday Tribe rookie Gene Bearden may have had one of those moments. It appears Bearden could be here to stay.
Bearden worked bases loaded jams in the first and third innings to escape without allowing a run and then only allowed three hits in the final six frames to shutout the Boston Red Sox 7-0 on Saturday afternoon in front of 28,997 spectators on this Ladies’ Day crowd. For Bearden, he now has made three starts on the season and won them all. Today’s test was against the best offense he had faced yet, the Red Sox much more powerful a team than either the Washington Senators or Philadelphia Athletics.
Bearden danced out of his first jam in the top of the first inning. After retiring Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky to start the inning, Ted Williams welcomed Bearden to the American League with a line drive back up the middle, nearly hitting the southpaw’s head. Vern Stephens followed with a single to left field and Bobby Doerr reached first base safely on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. With Sam Mele at the plate, Bearden broke off one of his nasty knuckleballs, forcing Mele to beat the ball into the ground to Tribe shortstop Lou Boudreau. The manager fielded the ball and threw to first to end the inning without any damage.
Again in the third inning, Bearden flirted with trouble after retiring the first two hitters. This time Williams and Stephens each walked and Doerr reached on an infield hit. With the bases loaded again, Mele again grounded to Boudreau, who this time was able to get the force out at second base to end the inning. Bearden had allowed three hits in three innings, but he would only allow three more hits on the afternoon.
The Tribe offense had been quiet through three innings but in the bottom of the fourth inning, they would give Bearden all the offense he would need off Boston’s starter, Jack Kramer. Larry Doby led off the inning with a bunt single down the third base line and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. After Boudreau grounded out to third base, Eddie Robinson hit a two-run homer to right field to make the game 2-0 Indians. It was his sixth of the season and the Tribe’s 39th in just 24 games.
Doby’s speed helped orchestrate the Indians next run in the sixth inning. He beat out a chopper to shortstop to start the inning. Stephens’ throw from shortstop was hurried and wide of the bag, allowing Doby to advance to second base. He then was able to scamper home on Boudreau’s single to right field to make it 3-0 after six innings.
Down three, the Red Sox pinch-hit for Kramer in the top of the seventh inning. For Kramer (2-2) he pitched a solid game, allowing three runs, seven hits, two walks and striking out one over six innings. However, today a pedestrian effort would not be suffice because Bearden was anything but par.
Fritz Dorish came on in relief of Kramer in the seventh inning and the Tribe offense continued to thrive. Jim Hegan started the seventh with a single to left and advanced to second on Bearden’s sacrifice bunt. After Thurman Tucker grounded out to second, advancing Hegan to third base, Doby singled to center field making it 4-0.
The Tribe tagged Dorish for two more runs in the eighth inning when Robinson and Ken Keltner singled to set the stage and Dale Mitchell hit an RBI-double score both. Hegan followed suit with an RBI-single scoring Mitchell, making the game 7-0 before Dorish exited for Chuck Stobbs. Stobbs pitched the final inning and two-thirds for Boston.
Meanwhile, Bearden was in complete control of the game on the mound for the Tribe. After the two jams early, only Mele singled in the sixth, Billy Hitchcock in the eighth and Matt Batts doubled in the ninth inning. No base runner passed second base after the third inning and Bearden set down 10 of the last 12 hitters he faced in the game. Bearden (3-0) walked two and struck out one over his nine shutout innings while clearly asserting himself as the Tribe’s third starter behind Bob Feller and Bob Lemon.
Cleveland is now 17-7 on the season and atop the American League by a one and one-half games over the Philadelphia Athletics and two full games over the New York Yankees. New York comes to town tomorrow for a Sunday doubleheader in what could be a record-breaking crowd at Cleveland Stadium.
In the first game, the Indians will match up Bob Feller (5-2) against former Tribe hurler, Allie Reynolds (5-1). Each will be looking for their sixth win of the season. In the second game Don Black (0-0) will try to earn his first decision against southpaw Ed Lopat (2-3). Lopat, a Tribe nemesis, has defeated the Indians 13 times in 15 starts over his career.