May 31, 1948
For the second straight day the Indians had a chance to take two games from a lower division team and were unsuccessful.
St. Louis Browns right-hander Cliff Fannin shut out the Indians, obviously tired and depleted by injury. Despite having only won one game before his start this afternoon, Fannin limited the Indians to just four hits. No Indian reached second base.
“I had hoped for two today,” Indians manager Lou Boudreau. “The pitching was just too tough for us in that second one. Cliff Fannin had us hitting the pitches he want us to.”
Bob Muncrief allowed four runs in just less than three innings of work in a spot start for the Tribe. The Browns took the lead in the top of the second inning when Les Moss hit a solo home run, his third of the year, put the Browns up 1-0. They blew the game open a frame later.
In the top of the third inning, Bob Dillinger started the inning for the Browns with a single to right field. Chuck Stevens grounded to Johnny Berardino at second base, who flipped to Boudreau to start a double play. Boudreau dropped the ball and everyone was safe. Jerry Priddy singled to center to score Dillinger and advance Stevens to third base. Al Zarilla hit a sacrifice fly to center field and Stevens trotted home to make the score 3-0 Browns.
Paul Lehner singled, but was thrown out by Larry Doby trying to stretch the single to a double. After Muncrief walked Wally Platt, Boudreau had seen enough and motioned for Steve Gromek to enter the game. Gromek uncorked a wild pitch to Moss, allowing Priddy to score, before striking him out to end the inning. St. Louis had a 4-0 lead after three innings.
Muncrief, the former Browns pitcher, did not have success in his first start against his former mates. Muncrief (1-1) lasted two and two-third innings, allowing six hits, four runs — only two earned — while walking one and allowing a home run. Gromek shined in relief, pitching three and one-third innings, only allowing one hit.
Meanwhile, Fannin was making short work of the Tribe. He allowed singles in the second, fourth, eighth and ninth inning, but none of the baserunners could reach scoring position. The Toledo native credited control with his breaking balls and offspeed pitches as the reason for his success.
“I didn’t give them too many fastballs,” Fannin said. “I used curves and a slider and was putting the ball just about where I wanted it.”
The Browns added two more runs in the top of the seventh inning off Tribe reliever Ed Klieman. Dillinger walked to start the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Stevens that left everyone safe. Priddy bunted both Dillinger and Stevens into scoring position, forcing Klieman to intentionally walk Zarilla. However, Klieman walked Lehner with the bases loaded to force in a run and Platt hit a fly ball to center field to plate another run, making it 6-0 Browns.
Fannin (2-4) looked to be tiring in the later innings, allowing a hit in the eighth to Jim Hegan and another to Wally Judnich in the ninth, but he was able to settle down and finish what he started. He walked no one while striking out three in the game.
“Look at my arm shaking,” Fannin said as he tried to unsuccessfully sign a baseball. “Yeah, I was getting tired that last inning.”
The Tribe’s game two loss in the doubleheader, combined with Philadelphia’s 2-1 win against Boston, dropped the Indians back into second place by a full game behind the Mackmen. Tuesday is a scheduled off day where the Indians will travel to Washington to start a four city eastern road trip, including four against the Athletics and New York Yankees. Boudreau feels the road trip is a big one in the first half of the season.
“Coming home in first place would mean a lot to the club,” Boudreau said.
The Indians will send Bob Lemon (7-2, 2.07) to the mound in the first game against the Senators. Lemon leads the American League with seven wins and will be looking for his eighth. Washington will counter on Wednesday with Ray Scarborough (3-1, 2.96). Boudreau plans to send Bob Feller and Gene Bearden in the next two games.