May 1, 1948
With a five-run fifth inning against Cleveland starter Bob Feller and the aid of six errors, the Detroit Tigers handed the Indians their first loss of the season with a 10-3 victory on a sloppy Saturday afternoon at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
Out of the gate, the matchup between Feller and the Tigers’ Paul “Dizzy” Trout appeared to be a stellar pitchers’ duel for the crowd of 52,249 in downtown Cleveland.
Detroit proved to be the day’s victors, thanks to a solid outing by Trout (1-1), who pitched eight and two-thirds innings to earn his first win of the season. The Tiger starter, rumored to have been offered to the Indians in the offseason, finished just one out shy of the complete game and allowed three runs on nine hits. He struck out four.
After the first four innings, it looked like the game could go the way of either team. Trout had to work out of far fewer problems though, allowing just one base runner in his first 10 batters faced.
Feller was able to work out of the game’s first scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second after first baseman Sam Vico doubled to right with two outs and advanced to third on an error by Indians right fielder Larry Doby. Feller induced a groundout to second to escape unharmed. In the third inning, Feller loaded the bases with two outs, but got Hoot Evers to ground out to Eddie Robinson at first for the inning-ending unassisted putout.
Cleveland had opportunities to get things going in the bottom of the fourth, but Trout minimized the damage. Doby got the Indians first hit of the day with an infield single back to the mound, but while trying to get himself into scoring position with skipper Lou Boudreau at the plate, he was gunned down at second. Boudreau walked later in the at-bat, but was forced at second in the beginning of a double play groundout by Joe Gordon.
Detroit ripped the game open in the fifth, sending ten to the plate. With one out, Feller walked leadoff man Johnny Lipon. A single by Eddie Mayo to right field was blundered again by Doby, who both overran the ball and then made an errant throw to second, allowing both runners to move up. George Kell singled to right, scoring Lipon. Pat Mullin copied Kell, singling to right to drive in Mayo. Evers followed with a single to left to score Kell. After a strikeout by Jimmy Outlaw, Vico singled to right to end Feller’s day.
Feller (2-1), who had not started since April 24 because of the bad weather on the end of the Tribe’s road trip, had worked an inning of relief in the 14th inning of the Indians’ 12-11 win on April 26. He allowed five earned runs on seven hits today and was unable to get out of the fifth. In each of his previous two starts, he had gone the distance.
“What happened? Bang, bang, bang, that’s what happened. I just didn’t have it,” Feller said postgame. “My curveball wasn’t curving, and my fastball wasn’t fast.”
Bill Kennedy, who came on in relief, allowed an RBI single to right to wrap up the scoring in the inning.
Cleveland got on the scoreboard in the sixth after a leadoff single by Jim Hegan. Thurman Tucker moved him to third with one out on a double to center, and a fielder’s choice groundout by Doby scored the runner from third.
The run from Doby helped, but did not offset the three errors he made in the field on the afternoon.
The Tigers batted around again in the eighth and scored four more runs to put the game away, this time off of reliever Lyman Linde. After an easy seventh, the Indians right-hander gave up a leadoff double to Trout. Lipon walked, but the following hitter popped it up. Hegan made the catch at the plate, but in trying to double off Trout at second, threw the ball into center for the team’s fifth error of the game. After an intentional walk, Lyman gave up a two-run single to Mullin and an RBI single to Evers. Outlaw grounded to second, driving in the final run of the inning and increasing the Detroit lead to 9-1.
“Longest game I ever played in,” Trout said after the game. “Those two long innings when we did most of our scoring didn’t do my arm any good. I got pretty warm and those long rests caused my arm to get a little stiff.”
Kell added an RBI double off of reliever Steve Gromek in the ninth.
For those remaining in attendance in the blowout, they might have had their hopes up in the bottom of the ninth. Boudreau singled to left off of Trout, who was on looking for the easy complete game win. A double to right-center by Gordon moved Boudreau to third. Robinson hit a comebacker to the mound, allowing Trout to hold the Tribe skipper at third base for the first out. Allie Clark grounded out to short, scoring Boudreau and moving Gordon to third base. Ken Keltner delivered a single to left to score Gordon to make it a 10-3 game.
Hegan followed Keltner’s RBI with a single to center and Boudreau sent out Hank Edwards to pinch hit for Gromek. The move worked, as Edwards walked to load the bases and to end Trout’s night after eight and two-thirds. Reliever Art Houtteman was handed the ball and retired Tucker on a fly ball to left to save the ball game.
The heart of the Tigers order did the bulk of the damage on the afternoon, collectively batting 6-for-14 with seven runs batted in and five runs scored.
Fred Hutchinson and Bob Lemon make up the pitching matchup for tomorrow’s game, as the Indians try to get back in the win column. Hutchinson (0-1, 6.35 ERA) earned the loss against Lemon in the second game of the season, when he allowed six earned runs and was shelled for four home runs. Lemon (2-0, 2.33) is seeking his third straight victory, but is pitching on only two days of rest.
Photo: Conlon Collection