July 2, 1948
In a back and forth contest that featured several big innings, the Indians came from behind and held off a late eighth inning rally from the St. Louis Browns on Friday evening. The Brownies had the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the eighth, but Cleveland was able to squelch the rally and win, 8-6, in front of 5,647 spectators.
The Tribe was forced to come from behind when Don Black allowed four runs in the first inning. His struggles might have been due in part to taking a line drive off the shoulder while throwing batting practice two days ago. Cleveland used two home runs by Joe Gordon to get back in the game and take the lead.
Cleveland took the early lead in the top of the first inning with two runs. Bob Kennedy singled and Lou Boudreau walked with one out. Allie Clark was able to single to left field to bring home Kennedy and make the game 1-0. Boudreau advanced to third base on the play.
After Joe Gordon flew out to left field, Ken Keltner capped the inning with a two-out single to left field to score Boudreau and make it 2-0 Indians before St. Louis was able to get to the plate.
But, Black lasted only three hitters into the game before being removed. On Wednesday, Dale Mitchell hit Black with a line drive while he threw batting practice in Detroit. Despite his claims to be fine, the bruise on his throwing shoulder indicated otherwise. He walked Bob Dillinger and gave up back-to-back singles to right field to Al Zarilla and Jerry Priddy. Priddy’s single to right field plated Dillinger, making it a 2-1 game, with two on and no one out. Boudreau made the early move to the bullpen for Ed Klieman.
Klieman slowed the rally, but was unable to keep his inherited runners from scoring. After getting Whitey Platt to fly out, Paul Lehner tripled to center field, scoring both Zarilla and Priddy and giving the Brownies a 3-2 lead. Sam Dente’s fly ball to left field was deep enough to score Lehner to quickly make it 4-2.
Black did not record an out and was charged for three runs, raising his season ERA to 6.52.
St. Louis quickly added another run in the bottom of the second inning when Zarilla homered off Klieman. His second home run of the year gave St. Louis a 5-2 lead.
Former Tribe southpaw Bill Kennedy was holding the Tribe in check until the fifth inning. In his third start since being traded to St. Louis by the Tribe, the lefty had settled down after a rocky first inning. However, in the fifth inning the Indians began their comeback. Boudreau walked to start the inning, and after an out was recorded, Gordon hit his first home run of the game and 14th of the season cutting the Tribe’s deficit to just one run at 5-4. Ken Keltner singled to right field and Wally Judnich walked after the homer and that was enough for St. Louis manager Zack Taylor to end Kennedy’s evening. Taylor motioned for Al Widmar who was able to retire Hank Edwards and pinch-hitter Mitchell to end the inning and keep the lead.
Kennedy lasted just four and one-third innings allowing seven hits and four runs while walking six. The young, lefty battled control while with the Tribe, too. Klieman also left after the fourth inning, allowing two runs on four hits. Steve Gromek took over pitching duties for the Tribe to beginning in the fifth inning.
Gromek helped himself and the Tribe in the top of the sixth inning when he helped start a rally to take the lead. After Johnny Berardino flew out to right field, then was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Eddie Hurley, Gromek doubled to right field and scored on Boudreau’s single to tie the game at five apiece.
It only took two batters and the Tribe had the lead when Gordon hit a two-run homer, bringing home Boudreau, and giving the Indians a 7-5 lead. His 15th homer of the season got him to just three behind the American League leader, Joe Dimaggio, and just two behind Keltner, the team leader. Gordon’s four RBIs gives him 58 for the season, the team lead.
The Tribe added another run on Widmar and the Browns in the top of the seventh inning when Edwards singled to center and Mitchell was safe on a muffed grounder by St. Louis second baseman, Priddy. Edwards advanced to second base on the miscue. Eddie Robinson — Berardino’s replacement — doubled to right center field allowing Edwards to score and giving the Tribe an 8-5 lead after seven innings. Robinson had two hits after assuming Berardino’s place in the order.
Leading by three, the Indians flirted with disaster in the bottom of the eighth inning. Gromek walked Priddy to start the inning before striking out Platt and getting Lehner to ground out to first base. Priddy advanced to second, but the Brownies still trailed by three with two out in the eighth. Dente then singled to right field and Priddy scored easily to cut the lead to 8-6. After Gromek allowed a single to Roy Partee, Boudreau motioned for Bob Lemon to come out of the bullpen.
With two on and two out, Lemon’s first appearance since his no-hitter on Wednesday was not a memorable one. He walked Chuck Stevens, loading the bases and putting the tying runs in scoring position and the winning run on base. Boudreau again went back to the bullpen, this time getting Russ Christopher. Christopher got pinch-hitter Joseph Schultz to ground out to second base to end the inning and kill the threat with the Tribe still leading 8-6.
Christopher worked the bottom of the ninth, retiring the Browns’ top three hitters in order to secure the win for Cleveland and record his 11th save of the season. Gromek (2-1) earned the win in relief, allowing just one run and two hits over three and two-thirds innings. Widmar (2-1) suffered the loss for St. Louis, giving up four runs off five hits in just two and two-thirds innings.
Cleveland used 17 players in the game, including five pitchers. In addition to Gordon’s two homers and Robinson’s two hits off the bench, Boudreau was 1 for 2, with three walks and scored three times. The manager still has a hot .369 batting average for the season.
The victory keeps the Indians with a slim half-game lead over the Philadelphia Athletics, who won 4-2 in Boston. Cleveland did extend their lead over third place New York to two games when the Yankees lost 2-1 in 12 innings at home against the Senators.
Tomorrow afternoon Bob Feller (7-8, 3.64) will look to get his record back to even and keep the Tribe’s winning ways going on their western road trip. Cleveland has now won three of four games since leaving the stadium. Right-hander, Ned Garver (2-6, 3.89) will toe the rubber for the hometown Browns in Feller’s opposition.