June 13, 1948
Maybe it was the cast of former Yankees in attendance at today’s game, or the fear of their pennant hopes starting to wilt in the summer sun, but the present day Yanks salvaged the final game of the four-game series with the Tribe this afternoon, 5-3.
Heavy hitting homers by Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto, plus two 400-foot triples by Joe Dimaggio, were the offense necessary to send Bob Feller to his fourth straight loss. The 49,641 fans in attendance celebrated 25 years at Yankee Stadium and Babe Ruth prior to the game. Originally, the Yankees expected more than 70,000 for the celebration, but a heavy rain last night and this morning kept some fans away.
The ceremonies ran long and the game did not start until nearly 4 p.m., but when it did, the New York offense finally arrived to the series. Cleveland did take an early lead in the top of the fourth inning when Joe Gordon doubled to center field and scored on Wally Judnich singled an out later to stake the Indians to a 1-0 lead.
New York found the offense of the old Murders Row in the sixth inning when Dimaggio hit his first triple of the game with one out off Feller. Berra followed with home run to right field to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. It was Berra’s sixth homer of the season.
Feller (5-6) had a short day, pitching only six innings before being removed for pinch-hitter Johnny Berardino in the top of the seventh. Feller allowed six hits and two runs while walking two and striking out four. The Berra homer was his only major mistake, however, and Feller now suffers his fourth straight loss. Gene Bearden came on in relief with hopes of holding the game intact for the Indians’ offense to rebound.
However, Bearden’s second inning of work ended any hope of a Tribe victory. Dimaggio tripled again to start the bottom of the eighth inning. After getting Berra to pop up on the infield and Billy Johnson to strikeout, it appeared Bearden might avoid trouble, but George McQuinn’s ground ball to Gordon at second base was misplayed and allowed Dimaggio to score, making it 3-1. Phil Rizzuto followed with a home run to left field, bringing home McQuinn and himself and extending the Yanks’ lead to 5-1.
The three runs against Bearden were all unearned. He allowed two hits in two innings of work. Meanwhile New York starter, Ed Lopat (3-5) re-found his dominance against the Tribe. He had won 13 of 15 starts against the Indians over his career before this season, but was only able to split his first two starts against the Tribe this year. Today, he had control of the Indians for eight innings and earned his third win of the season.
Lopat did run into some trouble in the ninth inning when he walked Judnich and served up Jim Hegan’s third home run of the season to cut the deficit to 5-3. Today was Hegan’s first game back in the Tribe’s lineup after spending most of the last week back in Cleveland attending to his ailing wife.
Lopat was able to get the first two outs of the inning, but then allowed a single to Allie Clark and walk to Lou Boudreau. That forced Yankees manager Bucky Harris to bring Joe Page in for the final out. When Page struck out Eddie Robinson, he left the tying runs on base and earned his eighth save.
Lopat pitched eight and two-thirds innings, allowing 10 hits and three runs — only two earned — while walking three and striking out one. If Lopat finds his former brilliance, the Yankees still might be a factor in the American League race.
Cleveland finishes their east coast road trip with an 8-3 record and a three game lead over the Philadelphia Athletics in the standings and five games over the Yankees. At 31-14, the Indians have the best record in both leagues.
Today’s attendance was just barely under 50,000, bringing the three-day total to 186,151, which is believed to be a three-day record.
Despite their road trip being complete for the standings, the Indians will venture over to Brooklyn this evening and play a Sunday night exhibition against the Dodgers. It will be the Indians first appearance in Ebbett’s Field since the 1920 World Series. With a crowd of more than 20,000 expected, the proceeds of the home-and-home exhibition will go toward the Flatbush Sandlot Funds. When the two teams meet at Cleveland Stadium on July 14, the proceeds will go to the Cleveland Baseball Federation.
Left-hander Bill Kennedy will make the exhibition start tonight against the Dodgers. As soon as the game ends, the Indians will take a train home to prepare for their next American League game on Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox. Bob Lemon is slated to pitch the opener of the home stand.