May 20, 1948
Thursday evening the Indians casually strolled to a victory over the Boston Red Sox by a score of 13-4 in front of 43,158 fans at Municipal Stadium.
While the Indians did tally another home run, adding to their league lead, they circled the bases even slower than their normal trot. On this evening, the Indians needed to only walk the bases in order to score all the runs necessary. Cleveland was the beneficiary of 18 walks issued by the Red Sox, tying a modern day major league record.
Red Sox left-handed starter Mickey Harris only survived an inning and one-third while walking seven. Young Mickey McDermott pitched the rest of the game with little control, issuing eleven walks over the final six and two-third frames.
Cleveland took an early lead in the first inning when Tribe center fielder Thurman Tucker started the offense with a single, followed by walks from Allie Clark and Lou Boudreau to load the bases. After Eddie Robinson popped out to the catcher, Joe Gordon walked forcing in Tucker to give the Tribe an early lead. Ken Keltner hit a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Clark and the Indians had a 2-0 lead after one inning.
The Tribe put the game away before the sun went down in the second inning. Bob Lemon started the inning by drawing a walk and Tucker followed with his second single of the game. After Allie Clark sacrificed the two baserunners to second and third, Boudreau was intentionally walked to get to Robinson. Robinson made them pay for choosing to face him instead of Boudreau with a double to center field, scoring Lemon and Tucker.
“That hit really felt good,” Robinson said.
Robinson’s double made the game 4-0 with just one out in the second inning, and gave him 20 runs batted in on the season. Despite a sore ankle to start the season, Robinson’s production has been key, hitting behind Boudreau. Robinson, Boudreau and Gordon each have 20 RBI’s on the season – just trailing Keltner’s 26 for the team lead.
“Those RBI’s are what count and that’s why Eddie’s up there in the fourth spot,” Boudreau said.
After Harris intentionally walked Gordon – his second intentional free pass of the inning – Keltner grounded to third base but reached on an error while Boudreau scored and everyone moved up a base. Pat Seerey singled to center field, scoring Robinson and Gordon to make the score 7-0 Indians and ending Harris’ evening.
Harris (1-3) only recorded one out – Clark’s sacrifice bunt – in the second inning, while allowing four hits and seven runs due in part to seven walks. The southpaw Harris was relieved by another lefty, the 18-year-old McDermott, who had worse control yet. He did end the second inning without further damage.
The Sox did answer back and make it a game for the next two innings against Tribe starter Bob Lemon. Boston plated two runs in the top of the third inning when a leadoff walk by Birdie Tebbetts and single by McDermott turned in to a two-out single to right field by Ted Williams, cutting the lead to 7-2. After retiring the first two hitters in the fourth inning, Tebbetts again walked and this time McDermott doubled before Dom DiMaggio singled them both home, making the score 7-4, Cleveland, after four innings.
But after the top of the fourth, the scoring stopped for Boston and started again for the Tribe. Cleveland scored in every inning – except the seventh inning – from fourth to eighth inning.
In the fourth inning, the Tribe walked to two runs. With one out, Gordon singled to left to start the scoring threat. Keltner walked. Both he and Gordon advanced on a wild pitch, thus leading to Pat Seerey being intentionally walked to load the bases. However, McDermott could not stop walking Tribesmen. Hegan and Lemon both sauntered to first base, forcing in runs, without swinging the bat and giving the Tribe a 9-4 lead with only one hit in the inning.
Boudreau hit his third home run of the season off McDermott to lead off the fifth inning and the Indians made the score 10-4. The solo blast was the only hit in the inning, but the first hit since the second inning to drive in a run for the wig-wammers.
Two more walks by McDermott, this time to Seerey and Tucker in the sixth inning, set the stage for Clark’s two-out base hit to center field to plate Seerey. Clark was thrown out trying to advance to second base on the play, but the lead was extended to 11-4. McDermott’s control ruined his and the Red Sox chances to win, but the Tribe could still see the potential in the young portsider.
“He has a fast breaking curve and plenty of speed,” Tucker said. “He showed the same speed against us in Boston but had better control. When he begins to throw the ball where he’s aiming he’ll be some pitcher.”
Cleveland tacked on two more runs, both unearned, in the eighth inning when after a leadoff Keltner walk, McDermott retired the next two batters. Then, what looked to be a routine fly ball to right field was lost in the lights by right fielder Wally Moses. He was charged an error. McDermott then walked Tucker for the second time in the game and Clark singled to right field. Hegan and Lemon scored to make the game 13-4 and Lemon retired the final three outs in the ninth inning for his fifth complete game of the year.
Lemon (4-2) pitched nine innings, allowing eight hits and four runs on five walks and six strikeouts. He rebounded nicely after being defeated by the lowly Chicago White Sox in his last start. Rumors had swirled that Lemon may be suffering from a sore arm with the increase in use this year. However, he put those rumors to rest after the game.
“My arm may feel a little sore tomorrow after all that throwing but it didn’t hurt tonight,” Lemon said.
But the story of the evening was the walks. Every Indians hitter walked twice, except Seerey who walked three times and Hegan who walked once. McDermott suffered through six and two-third innings in relief of Harris, allowing only four hits, but his eleven walks helped fuel his six runs allowed. Cleveland only had eight hits to plate 13 runs on the evening.
The Indians will try to increase their one and one-half game lead over the American League on Friday afternoon when they try to take the second game of a three-game series with Boston. The matinee features left-hander Bill Kennedy (1-0) for the Indians, who pitched seven strong innings on Sunday against Chicago. Joe Dobson (2-3) will pitch for Boston. The Indians beat Dobson on May 9 in ten innings.
Photo: Plain Dealer file photo