May 4, 1948
As hot as the Indians started this season, they seem to be cooling down just as fast.
The previously 6-0 Cleveland squad dropped its third game in a row Tuesday afternoon at Shibe Park, and the Philadelphia Athletics moved to within percentage points of the American League-leading Indians with their 8-6 victory. The game was highlighted by a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the tenth inning by Philly leadoff hitter Eddie Joost.
Joost, last year’s AL strikeout leader, continued his hot hitting of late as the shortstop extended his hitting streak to eleven games with his exciting blast. For the season, Joost has hit safely in 12 of 13 games. The home run was his fourth of the season.
The loss for the game goes to Indians relief pitcher Butch Wensloff (0-1), who was the fourth reliever for the Tribe after starter Bob Muncrief was pulled after working only two and two-third innings. Muncrief was hit hard by the Athletics, allowing four earned runs on five hits and three walks. Included in Muncrief’s bad day was a three-run homer surrendered to struggling center fielder Sam Chapman, who gave the A’s a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third. Manager Lou Boudreau pulled Muncrief from the game shortly afterward.
The Indians had the lead early off of Philadelphia starter Phil Marchildon, who nearly pitched as poorly as Muncrief. Marchildon allowed a solo homer to Eddie Robinson in the second, an RBI single to Robinson in the third, and was charged with another run when Dale Mitchell grounded out to force in another run the following batter. Like Muncrief, Marchildon did not make it out of the third inning.
The A’s pushed their lead to 6-3 in the fourth when first baseman Ferris Fain blasted a two-run double to left off of Indians reliever Steve Gromek. The lead held until the Indian offense was able to tie the contest in the sixth.
Ken Keltner led off the inning with a double to right off of Bubba Harris and catcher Jim Hegan followed with a walk. The inning seemed left for dead when pinch-hitter Hank Edwards grounded into a double play, but Thurman Tucker brought the Tribe back to within two when his RBI single scored Keltner. The Indians then tied the game after three straight singles by Larry Doby, Boudreau, and Joe Gordon brought home two more Cleveland runs.
The Indians nearly took the lead in both the seventh and ninth innings, but failed to do so in both attempts. In the seventh, Tucker singled with two outs and Keltner on second, but a perfect throw to home plate by Barney McCosky in left field erased the Indians third baseman at the plate. Then in the ninth, Cleveland got another runner in scoring position after two straight walks, but back-to-back strikeouts of Hegan and pinch hitter Johnny Berardino eliminated the threat.
Cleveland relievers Ed Klieman and Russ Christopher held the Athletics in check for the few innings that they were in the game, but unfortunately for the Indians, left-handers Alex Kellner and Lou Brissie did the same for Philadelphia. Brissie, a former U.S. Army soldier and Purple Heart recipient for his shrapnel injuries during the war, earned the win for the A’s – his second of the season – when Joost took Wensloff into the upper deck in the tenth.
Bright spots for the Indians in defeat came from Klieman and Christopher on the pitching mound, as well as Tucker, Robinson, and Keltner in the batter’s box. Tucker accumulated three hits and an RBI as Robinson blasted his fourth home run of the year and added an RBI single. Keltner reached base all five times that he was up with two hits and three walks in the loss.
On Wednesday, the 6-3 Indians will try to get back on track as they send ace pitcher Bob Feller (2-1, 2.28 ERA, 1 save) to the mound to face Dick Fowler (0-0, 0.00 ERA) in the middle game of this three-game set. Fowler will be making his first start of the season as he has appeared in only one game, pitching two-thirds of an inning in a 7-3 loss to Washington on April 25. Feller, on the other hand, will be making fourth start and fifth appearance of the young season. Rapid Robert was victorious in six of seven starts against Philadelphia last season.