April 29, 1948
The win streak reached six games this afternoon, when a new town provided acceptable weather for the Tribe to play. The weather met the Tribe’s standards, but the opponent again failed to measure up.
Lou Boudreau was just a triple short of the cycle and Bob Lemon toiled nine strong innings to lead the Tribe to a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Browns in Sportsman’s Park this afternoon. The victory was their sixth straight to open the season, and gives them an early two-game lead in the American League standings.
Cleveland put a tally on the scoreboard almost immediately in the top of the first inning. Thurman Tucker led off the first inning with a single to right field. After Larry Doby flew out to left field, Boudreau doubled down the left field line and Tucker was able to scamper home all the way from first base to give the Indians an early 1-0 lead.
The Tribe had chances to add to their lead early in both the second and third innings but could not cash in. With runners on second and third with one out in the second, Lemon hit a chopper that was fielded by Browns pitcher Cliff Fannin. Fannin was able to throw home and cut down Ken Keltner at the plate. In the third inning, three straight singles by Boudreau, Joe Gordon and Eddie Robinson loaded the bases with one out, but Fannin was able to get Allie Clark to pop out to first base and Keltner grounded to third base to end the inning.
St. Louis evened the score in the fourth inning when they were finally able to get to Lemon. Whitey Platt led off the fourth with a double to right field and Al Zarilla followed with a single to right field to score Platt and tie the score at one. Doby made a strong throw from right field and cut down Zarilla trying to stretch the hit into a double. Lemon danced around a single and stolen base by Ray Coleman to avoid any further damage.
Boudreau did not allow Cleveland to trail very long, however. With one out in the top of the fifth inning, he answered right back with a solo home run off Fannin to give the Indians a 2-1 lead. The homer was Boudreau’s first round tripper in the young season.
Cleveland took control of the game and cemented its sixth straight win in the seventh inning. Lemon led off the inning with a single to right field. After Tucker grounded into a fielder’s choice to force out Lemon at second base, Doby laced a double down the left field line to allow Tucker to score from first again. Doby, a left-handed hitter, is very apt at taking the ball to the opposite field and gave the Tribe a 3-1 lead.
Cleveland was not finished, though. With Doby on second Fannin threw back to the back in a pickoff attempt, but threw the ball into center field allowing him to advance to third base with just one out. Boudreau promptly singled to left field for his fourth hit of the day and scored Doby, making the score 4-1. Boudreau was able to advance to second base on the play when Platt’s throw from left field was wild.
After Gordon lined out to left field for the second out, Robinson singled home Boudreau to make the score 5-1 Indians. Coleman threw out Robinson from right field to end the inning, as he tried to stretch the hit into a double.
The rocky seventh inning ended Fannin’s afternoon despite a fair effort against the Tribe’s vaunted offense. In seven innings, Fannin (1-1) scattered 12 hits while allowing five runs – four earned – and walking one and striking out four. Bryan Stephens, who pitched for the Indians last season, tossed the final two innings in relief for the Browns.
Meanwhile, Lemon was in control of the game. After Cleveland plated three runs in the top of the seventh, Les Moss started the bottom of the inning with a solo home run for the Browns to cut the lead to 5-2. It was Moss’ first home run of the season. When Bob Dillinger doubled later in the inning with two outs, the Tribe quickly got three arms warming in the bullpen but Lemon was able to limit the damage and finish the frame.
Lemon again found himself in a little trouble in the eighth inning, when Jerry Priddy started the inning with a double. Again, the Indians’ bullpen was warming, but Lemon retired the next three Browns in the inning to quiet the bullpen and finished strong in the ninth for the victory. Logging his second complete game in as many starts, Lemon (2-0) scattered eight hits, allowing two runs while walking one and striking out three. With five days rest before today’s start, Boudreau considers Lemon a potential starter for Sunday’s game against Detroit at home.
Offensively, the Indians were lead by Boudreau and his four hits and three runs batted in. Despite 13 hits by the Tribe on the afternoon, only Robinson and Lemon had more than one hit apiece to go with Boudreau. Clark was held hitless, however.
Tomorrow, the Indians will look to make it a perfect road trip when Bob Feller (2-0) makes his third start of the season. He’ll be opposed by the Browns’ Fred Sanford (1-1), setting up a rematch from opening day at Municipal Stadium. Judging by today’s crowd of 3,420 fans, the rematch will be a sparse one at Sportsman’s Park compared to the first matchup in Cleveland that drew 73,163 patrons.
Photo: Associated Press