July 21, 1948
The New York Yankees used four home runs from their lineup and three hits from Joe DiMaggio to take the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Yankee Stadium by a score of 7-3.
Bob Muncrief, who once looked to be solidifying himself in Tribe’s rotation allowed two homers before giving way to Sam Zoldak, who gave up two more. Eddie Lopat, who scattered six hits over nine innings to defeat the wig-wammers, again stymied Cleveland. Had Lopat had an answer for Lou Boudreau, he could have shut out the Tribe rather easily.
Cleveland did take an early lead before the Bronx Bombers took control. In the top of the first inning, Larry Doby was hit by a pitch and was able to trot home when Boudreau hit his ninth home run of the season and gave the Tribe a 2-0 lead before New York came to bat.
New York quickly began cutting the lead in the bottom half of the inning when Tommy Henrich walked with one out and Yogi Berra singled to right field, allowing him to advance to third base. Henrich’s ability to take the extra base resulted in a run when DiMaggio flew to deep center field. New York trailed by one after an inning.
Boudreau did his best to keep the Indians in the game as he tacked on another run in the top of the third inning. Doby led off the third inning down the left field line to start the frame. Allie Clark grounded out to second base, allowing Doby to advance to third and Boudreau lofted a fly ball to left field so that he could gallop home, giving the Tribe a 3-1 lead. It was Boudreau’s 60th RBI of the season and the last time a Tribesman would register this afternoon.
Muncrief didn’t receive help from his defense to start the bottom of the third when Dale Mitchell muffed a fly ball in left field off the bat of Henrich to start the inning. Muncrief did little to help himself or his defense after the miscue, however. Berra grounded to first and Eddie Robinson was able to force out Henrich at second, but there would be no relay throw to first for a possible double play. DiMaggio made them pay quickly when he lofted his 20th home run into the left field seats, tying the game at three. It wasn’t tied long because Billy Johnson went back-to-back with DiMaggio. Johnson’s seventh homer made it 4-3, New York. It was a lead they would never relinquish.
After consecutive two-out singles by DiMaggio and Johnson in the fifth inning, Boudreau excused Muncrief and called upon Zoldak to finish the inning. Muncrief (5-3) lasted just four and two-third innings, allowing seven hits and four runs — just three earned — while walking two and striking out one. The long ball was Muncrief’s Achilles’ heel this afternoon.
Zoldak finished the bottom of the fifth inning, holding the score at 4-3, but it didn’t take him long to let the Yankees extend the lead in the sixth. Cliff Mapes and Phil Rizzuto hit back-to-back home runs to extend the lead to 6-3 for Gotham. Mapes’ blast was the first of his major league career while the scrappy Rizzuto tallied his fifth of the season.
Russ Christopher pitched the final two innings, including giving up the Yankees last run in the seventh. After entering the game, the gangly side-winder allowed singles to Berra and DiMaggio to start the inning. Berra advanced to third on DiMaggio’s hit and hustled home when Christopher uncorked a wild pitch.
Lopat (9-5) was in complete control of the Tribe. After allowing two hits in the first innings, he didn’t allow more than one hit in an inning for the rest of the game. Joe Gordon’s single with one out in the ninth inning was the first since Mitchell’s single in the fifth inning. Mitchell did extend his hitting streak to 18 games. Gordon was the only Indian with two hits. Cleveland only had six hits for the game.
Lopat’s domination of the Tribe continues as this is his third win in four starts against Cleveland this season. It’s also his 16th victory in 19 starts over the Tribe in his career.
While Cleveland’s bats were rather silent, DiMaggio, Johnson and Rizzuto each had three hits. The Yankees pounded out 12 for the game.
The Tribe will try to split the twin bill when Steve Gromek (4-1, 3.22) takes the mound. New York has scratched Spec Shea, the original starter, for Frank Hiller (3-1, 3.21). Hiller has made just four starts this season, but three this month including a complete game victory on July 15 against the St. Louis Browns.