Big First Inning Pushes Tribe to Split with Nats; Indians 4, Senators 1

June 27, 1948

Sometimes a little left is all right. That was Indians manager Lou Boudreau’s approach this afternoon.

Boudreau used seven right-handed hitters in his lineup to jump-start his offense against Washington southpaw Mickey Haefner. It paid off with four runs in the first inning, which was enough for the Tribe’s lefty, Sam Zoldak, to go the distance for a 4-1 victory in the second game of the double-dip. Zoldak earned his second victory in as many starts as a member of the Tribe.

Zoldak was the story of the afternoon as he was the master on the mound. With the exception of a double, single and error by Dale Mitchell in the third inning, he was brilliant. After the third inning, no Senator reached second base.

The wig-wammers used the long ball in the bottom of the first inning to plate their four runs. Mitchell started the action with a solid single to left field. Thurman Tucker, the lone left-handed hitter, back in the lineup in place of injured Larry Doby, popped out to first base but Boudreau singled between shortstop and third to put runners on first and second base with only one out.

Allie Clark, playing in place of Hank Edwards, hit a three-run homer to left field to put the Indians up 3-0 after just four batters. His third homer of the season, Clark is not the traditional cleanup hitter; this was his first game of his career hitting fourth. Joe Gordon, a more suitable power hitter, went back-to-back with Clark and crushed a homer of his own to make it 4-0 quickly. Gordon’s 12th homer of the game resulted in Haefner only pitching one inning.

Haefner (3-6), who sometimes gives the Indians fits with his sidearm and looping, soft curve, recorded only three outs this afternoon. He allowed four hits and four runs, while walking one. The two homers to the left field seats were his demise. Milo Candini, a right-hander, came on in relief and pitched five solid innings of relief for the Nats.

Washington scored its only run in the top of the third inning off Zoldak. Al Kozar doubled to right field with one out and advanced to third base on Carden Gillenwater’s single to left field. However, Mitchell threw home and catcher Joe Tipton could not handle the throw. When the throw got away, Kozar was able to hustle home to score. Gillenwater advanced to second base and Mitchell was charged his second error of the season.

Zoldak settled down and retired Tom McBride and Mickey Vernon to end the inning and extinguish any further threat. When Gillenwater was left stranded at second base, it was the last time a Nat would reach scoring position. After his base hit Zoldak retired the next nine in a row. He allowed singles in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings, but no one could advance past first base.

After a poor start and little run support, Zoldak (4-4) scattered seven hits and three walks while only allowing the one run. After having to leave the game one out short of a complete game in his first start, he was able to go the distance today.

The win keeps the Tribe on pace with the Philadelphia Athletics, who swept their doubleheader in Chicago. The Mackmen are tied in the standings but are 11 percentage points behind the Indians. New York won its lone contest today and pulled to within just one game of the top of the standings, and the streaking Red Sox are now 31-28 on the season and just five and one-half games back.

Cleveland finishes its 15-game home stand, going just 6-9 and relinquishing the three game lead they had when they came home. The Tribe is only 16-16 at home this season in front of the large crowds and Cleveland faithful.

The Tribe will hope to learn more on the injury status of Doby tomorrow. He’ll remain in Cleveland while the rest of the team will use Monday’s off day to travel to Detroit. Boudreau is going with his three best pitchers at this point, all three Bobs.

Tuesday afternoon will feature a matchup of former aces, turned struggling stars. Bob Feller (6-8, 3.78) will look to rectify his season against Detroit’s Hal Newhouser (9-5, 3.23). Detroit’s southpaw Newhouser has been the best pitcher in the league since the start of 1944, winning back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards in ’44 and ’45 before settling for second place in ’46. After a 17-17 season a year ago, he’s getting back to his All-Star form.

Boudreau may consider using the same right-handed heavy lineup against the Tigers’ southpaw that he did today.

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