May 31, 1948
After a back and forth game for five innings, Lou Boudreau crushed a grand slam as part of a five-run sixth inning to help the Indians take the first game of the Memorial Day doubleheader, 8-3 over St. Louis.
Gene Bearden battled through some rocky early frames to pitch all nine innings in front of 48,961 fans at Cleveland Stadium. It completes a great first month in the big leagues for the southpaw hurler.
The Browns took the lead immediately in the top of the first inning. Chuck Stevens and Jerry Priddy each walked with one out against Bearden. Whitey Platt singled to center field, scoring Stevens and advancing Priddy to third to give the Browns a 1-0 lead. Priddy scored on a wild knuckleball with Ken Wood at the plate to make it 2-0 after the first inning.
Cleveland had opportunities to score in both the first and second innings, without gathering a hit. Browns’ starter Ray Shore walked two and hit a batter in the first, then walked and hit another batter in the second inning, but the Tribe could not get the base hit necessary to plate a run.
The Indians finally were able to cash in during the third inning. After the first two were retired, Wally Judnich and Boudreau each walked before Ken Keltner singled to left to score Judnich. Eddie Robinson followed with a single to right field to plate Boudreau and tie the game at two.
Browns’ manager Zack Taylor had seen enough of Shore quickly. The speedy hook of Shore kept the Browns from enduring any more walks or hit batsmen. Shore pitched only two and two-third innings, allowing just two hits and two runs, but walking five and hitting two while striking out just one. Clem Dreisewerd was able to end the third inning without any further damage from the Tribe.
St. Louis retook the lead in the top of the fourth inning when it conjured its own two out rally. With two gone, Bearden allowed three straight singles to Al Zarilla, Roy Partee and Sam Dente to score a run and give the Browns a 3-2 lead.
Again, Cleveland would tie the score in the fifth inning. Larry Doby bunted for a base hit to start the frame and Judnich singled to center field to put runners on first and second base with no one out. Boudreau bunted the runners into scoring position before Dreisewerd intentionally walked Keltner to load the bases. Robinson grounded to first base, but was able to beat Dente’s relay throw from second base when the Browns tried to turn a double play instead of throwing home. Robinson’s hustle allowed Doby to score and tie the game at three.
The Tribe took control of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with a pair of long balls. Jim Hegan hit his second home run of the season, a solo shot, to start the inning and give the Indians a 4-3 lead that they would never relinquish. Hegan’s other home run on the season was on opening day, also against the Browns.
Staked with the lead, the Tribe continued to tally runs in the inning and blow the game open. After Bearden grounded out to first base, Dale Mitchell doubled to right field and Doby and Judnich each walked to load the bases for Boudreau. This time, he would not be looking to bunt, but instead lofted a fly ball into the left field seats for a grand slam home run. Boudreau’s fourth home run of the season gave the Indians a 8-3 lead and all they would need for a victory.
“It was a screwball that dipped in,” Boudreau said. “You know, I really was going for a long fly ball to bring home that run from third. Of course that home run was all right.”
Dreisewerd (0-1) finished the game and suffered the loss. He pitched five and one-third innings of relief, allowing seven hits and six runs while walking three and striking out only one. The crushing blow was clearly Boudreau’s blast.
After a bumpy start to the game, Bearden took control once the Indians had the lead. He retired the final eleven hitters of the game. Les Moss’ one-out double to left field was the last hit or base runner the Browns had in the game. Bearden locked in and shutdown the scrappy St. Louis squad over the final three innings.
Bearden (4-1) went the distance, pitching nine innings, allowing six hits, three runs and four walks while striking out seven. The outing was good enough for his fourth win in the month of May. Bearden has solidified himself as a quality third starter behind Bob Lemon and Bob Feller. He’ll be needed to shoulder some of the pitching load on the upcoming east coast trip.
“It’ll be Lemon, Feller and Bearden in that order,” declared Boudreau.
For the moment, the Tribe has climbed into a tie for first place with the Athletics after they lost the first half of their doubleheader against Boston, 7-0. Cleveland will look to sweep the doubleheader over the Browns when Bob Muncrief (1-0, 3.75) will take the mound against Cliff Fannin (1-4, 6.49) for St. Louis.