October 3, 1948
The pennant winning party scheduled for all weekend set over the horizon of Lake Erie without even a single champagne pop.
As the Detroit Tigers headed west with their season complete, the Cleveland Indians now made plans to travel east to Boston. However, after today’s 7-1 defeat at the hands of the Bengals, the Indians will not be headed Beantown to take on the Braves in the World Series. Instead, Cleveland will battle the Boston Red Sox for the 23rd time this season in a one-game playoff Monday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. It is the first time in the American League’s 48-year history that two teams tied after 154 games. It’s only the second time in baseball history.
“The loss didn’t get (us) down,” Indians manager Lou Boudreau said after the game. “The boys just feel they’re going to Boston a day early.”
Cleveland could have won the pennant with a win on Sunday or a Boston loss, but either outcome seemed out of reach early in the afternoon. The Tigers scored four in the third inning and two more in the fourth, knocking Indians starter Bob Feller out of the game in the third inning. Left-hander Hal Newhouser stifled the Tribe all afternoon, allowing just five hits for the game and only three in the first eight innings. Boston had a five run third inning to catapult themselves to a 10-5 win over New York to deadlock the Indians and Red Sox at 96-58 in the standings.
Feller ran into trouble he could not survive in the top of the third inning. With one out, Johnny Lipon walked and Neil Berry singled to right field. Vic Wertz broke the scoring open when he doubled to left field, plating Lipon and advancing Berry to third base.
Pat Mullin was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a force play, but Dick Wakefield doubled down the left field line and Wertz and Berry both scored to make it 3-0, Detroit. With two runners still in scoring position and just one out, Indians manager Lou Boudreau went to the bullpen for Sam Zoldak.
Zoldak did little better when Eddie Mayo singled to right field to score Mullin and make the game 4-0. After intentionally walking Sam Vico, Boudreau went back to the bullpen for Ed Klieman to get an inning-ending, double play.
Feller (19-15) lasted just two and one-third innings, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks. Zoldak did not retire a hitter in the inning. Klieman finished the third inning but was replaced by pinch-hitter, Al Rosen in the bottom half of the inning.
Steve Gromek came on in the top of the fourth inning and squelched any remaining hope of an Indians comeback. With one out in the inning, Lipon singled and Berry doubled to put runners in scoring position. They were both able to come around and score on Wertz’s double over Larry Doby’s head in center field to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead. Wertz was 3 for 4 with three doubles and three runs batted in to close out his season.
Meanwhile, Newhouser was in complete control. He had the Tribe bats cold all afternoon. He did not allow a hit until Eddie Robinson singled to right field in the third inning. Johnny Berardino pinch-hit and singled to left field in the sixth inning. It was Berardino’s first hit in 30 at bats dating back to Aug. 9. Allie Clark singled to left field in the sixth to put two on and two out, but Boudreau grounded weakly to second to extinguish any flicker of hope.
“You’ve got to give all the credit in the world to Hal Newhouser,” Boudreau said. “This is one of the few times this season that we haven’t been in the game at all.”
Mike Garcia, just recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City, pitched the seventh and eighth innings and did not allow a run. Ernest Groth pitched the ninth inning, allowing a run when he walked two and Lipon doubled home Vico to make it 7-0.
The Tribe did manage a run in the ninth to avoid the shutout off Newhouser. Clark reached on an infield single to third base and advanced to second on Boudreau’s ground out to shortstop. Joe Gordon singled through the left side to bring Clark around and make it 7-1.
Newhouser (21-12) closes the book on his 1948 season with a complete game victory, allowing just one run on five hits and two walks while striking out three.
“We may be looking at a left-hander tomorrow in Fenway Park but he won’t be a Newhouser,” Boudreau said. “I don’t believe there are any better than him in baseball today.”
Monday’s tie-breaker will be the first of its kind in American League history and just the second in major league history. In 1946, the Brooklyn Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals tied after 154 games. They played a best-of-three series, with the Cardinals winning the first two games.
Cleveland was quiet and somber in their locker room after the game, while Boston was ecstatic with to play for the pennant on their home field tomorrow.
Neither team named a starter before leaving their respected parks this evening. The Indians could bring Feller back, the struggling Lemon or the rookie Bearden on one day’s rest. Boudreau hopes to keep his starter a secret until game time.
“No one’s going to know the pitcher until he walks out to take his warmup pitches,” Boudreau said.