May 16, 1948
If the second place Indians are serious about contending for the American League pennant this season, they can’t be dropping games to slumping teams like the Chicago White Sox very often. In game two of their Sunday doubleheader, the Tribe made amends for their game one loss with a 9-2 victory over the Pale Hose at the Stadium.
The Indians got an outstanding starting pitching performance from an unlikely source, as rookie pitcher Bill Kennedy (1-0, 3.86) was fantastic in his first Major League start. Opposing him was former All-Star Orval Grove (1-3, 5.08), who was not nearly as effective as his left-handed counterpart.
Kennedy worked seven, one-hit, shutout innings before tiring in the eighth. It was then that he allowed the White Sox their only two runs of the game on a triple, a walk and a single before being pulled in favor of reliever Steve Gromek. Prior to the eighth inning, however, Kennedy gave the 47,695 fans in attendance a treat and arguably Cleveland’s best start of the season up until then. Gromek allowed Kennedy’s second run to score on an RBI single by Ralph Hodgin with two outs in the frame.
Thankfully for Cleveland, the two runs that the Sox scored in the eighth were nothing but a moot point, as the Tribe already had a 7-0 lead over the worst team in baseball. Grove was certainly not at his best, allowing four runs in as many innings against the mighty Cleveland lineup.
The scoring started early as leadoff hitter Thurman Tucker hustled out an infield single to start the game and Larry Doby moved him to second with a single of his own. A passed ball by White Sox catcher Ralph Weigel advanced both runners into scoring position and player/manager Lou Boudreau brought Tucker home for a 1-0 lead with an RBI single to right. The lead then swelled to 2-0 on a fielder’s choice by Joe Gordon, and eventually the inning ended at 3-0 when the red-hot Ken Keltner doubled home Gordon.
The scoring continued in the third inning, as Gordon socked his fifth home run of the season to make the score 4-0 and to eventually run Grove from the ballgame. Fortunately for the Clevelanders, the Sox bullpen did not fare any better than the starter and the Indians continued to pile on.
In the sixth inning, catcher Jim Hegan led off the frame with a double off of Chicago reliever Fred Bradley. Kennedy laid down a perfect sacrifice to move Hegan to third, but wound up being safe at first himself when the White Sox attempted unsuccessfully to nail the catcher at third base. Hegan was retired soon after, however, as he was thrown out at the plate on a groundout to second by Tucker the next batter.
With runners at first and second, Bradley walked Doby to load the bases with one out. Boudreau – the recipient of boos in game one – then gave the Tribe their fifth run when he walked to force home another Cleveland tally. Tucker then scored the Tribe’s second run of the inning on another fielder’s choice, this time off of the bat of Eddie Robinson to make the score 6-0.
The Indians added their seventh run an inning later, as Keltner stayed hot and blasted his Major League leading 12th round-tripper of the season. The 12 long-balls give the longtime Cleveland third baseman more home runs this season than he had in all of 1947.
Robinson put the icing on the cake in the eighth inning as he canceled out the White Sox two runs the inning before with a two-run homer of his own that made the score it’s final of 9-2. The home run was Robinson’s fifth of the year and Cleveland’s fifth in the two games of the doubleheader.
Bright spots for the Indians included the home runs by Gordon, Keltner and Robinson, but especially the outstanding pitching performance by the rookie Kennedy. Also positive for the Tribe was Boudreau, who was 4-4 in the nightcap and raised his outstanding batting average to .440 on the season.
The Indians will have an off-day on Monday before welcoming in the first place Philadelphia Athletics (16-6) for a quick two game series on Tuesday. The Indians (13-6) currently sit 1.5 games behind the Mackmen and have lost the only two head-to-head matchups between the two teams this season. In a matchup of left-handed rookie starters, the Indians are scheduled to throw Gene Bearden (1-0, 1.04) against Lou Brissie (3-2, 1 save, 3.68). Bearden will be making his second start of the season after his fantastic season debut in Washington on May 8.