Tribe Survives In Ninth to Take First Game of Series in Bronx; Indians 10, Yankees 8

June 11, 1948

In what might be the most exciting and tension-filled game of the season to date, the Cleveland Indians won a game loaded with big innings, ejections and late night drama.

In a matchup of the two best pitchers in the league this year so far, the Indians snapped Vic Raschi’s 23 scoreless innings streak and scored five early runs. Then, the Yankees used 18 players – including six pitchers – as they tried to chase down the Tribe. Cleveland’s bullpen was able to hold on and stave off a late rally, including using yesterday’s starter, Bob Feller, to win 10-8.

Cleveland took the lead immediately in the top of the first inning when Dale Mitchell led off the game with a single to left field. After Hank Edwards and Lou Boudreau each flew out to center field, Eddie Robinson singled to right to move Mitchell to second base and Wally Judnich singled to bring Mitchell home and stake the Tribe to an early 1-0 lead. Raschi’s scoreless innings streak was snapped at 23 innings, second to only Bob Lemon’s 25 innings this season.

The Tribe blew the game open in the bottom of the second inning and started to create what looked to be a laugher. Ken Keltner walked off Raschi to start the inning. Joe Tipton struck out before Lemon singled to right field, moving Keltner to second base. Mitchell then singled to left to score Keltner and advance Lemon to second base, giving the Tribe a 2-0 lead. Edwards followed with a double down the left field line, scoring Lemon and moving Mitchell to third base.

With three runs in and two still in scoring position, Yankees manager Bucky Harris removed Raschi for Frank Hiller. Hiller made a nice stab on Boudreau’s one bounce smash up the middle, snagging it and getting Mitchell hung up in a rundown between third and home. Mitchell was retired for the second out of the inning, but runners on first and third base remained.

Robinson then singled for the second time in as many innings, driving home Edwards and making it 4-0 Indians. After Judnich walked to load the bases, Joe Gordon drew a bases loaded walk to force Boudreau in and make it 5-0 before the third out of the inning was recorded.

With Raschi already bounced from the game and Tribe ace Bob Lemon on the mound, the game appeared to be over early. Raschi only lasted one and one-third innings, allowing six hits and five runs. Hiller and Karl Drews each were needed from the New York bullpen to end the inning. They each recorded an out before Tommy Byrne took over in the third inning.

The Yankees used the long ball to get back in the game while trailing by five. In the bottom of the third inning, Tommy Henrich tripled to center field with one out. Johnny Lindell walked to put runners on the corners for Joe DiMaggio, but the Indian killer popped up to Boudreau at shortstop. While it appeared Lemon may avert from danger, Yogi Berra hit a three-run homer, cutting the Tribe’s lead to 5-3 after three innings. It was his fifth home run of the season.

Berra did not remain in the game much longer after his home run, though. He was ejected in the top of the fourth inning for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Cal Hubbard. Berra argued a ball call on Edwards before he grounded out to the pitcher. He turned around to Hubbard, said something, then walked to the mound. When Hubbard called another pitch a ball on Boudreau, Berra again turned around and protested. Berra was ejected immediately the second time.

Despite the ejection, Berra protested and the Yankees manager had to come out and get Berra to make sure he would avoid a suspension. Meanwhile, the 67,924 Bronx fans booed and threw bottles, beer cans and paper fruit in the direction of Hubbard. During the 10-minute delay, a fan even ran on the field in the direction of first base umpire Joe Papparella. Indians first base coach Mel Harder tackled the fan and restrained him until police could apprehend him. Gus Niarhos replaced Berra behind the plate for New York.

The Yankees responded to the umpire and Lemon again in the bottom of the fifth inning when they took the lead. Lindell singled to center field to start the inning and Niarhos walked after DiMaggio grounded out. After Billy Johnson grounded into a force out, George McQuinn hit the Yanks’ second three-run homer of the game, giving New York a 6-5 lead over the Indians and Lemon. McQuinn’s homer was his seventh of the season and erased the Tribe’s early lead.

Cleveland rallied back in the top of the seventh inning when Judnich singled and Gordon and Keltner walked with one out to load the bases. That would be all for Byrne (0-1). Harris summoned left-hander Joe Page, who had success against the Tribe earlier this season, but Tipton hit a 405-foot double to left-center field, clearing the bases and making the score 8-6. It took Page only one hitter to blow his second save of the season.

Johnny Berardino pinch-hit for Lemon and struck out for the second out of the inning, but Mitchell singled to center field to bring home Tipton and give the Tribe a 9-6 lead at the seventh inning stretch. Lemon (9-3) didn’t have his best stuff, but his numbers look worse than his effort due to two big mistakes resulting in three-run homers. He allowed six hits in six innings – but six runs – while walking two and striking out two. His victory is good enough to extend his lead as the winningest pitcher in the majors this year.

Russ Christopher came on in relief, but immediately allowed a single to DiMaggio and walk to Niarhos. Boudreau, realizing the importance of the game and a securing a late lead, went back to the bullpen and got Ed Klieman. He right away induced a double play ball to Gordon from Johnson and got McQuinn to pop out to first base to end the threat.

The Indians added an extra run in the top of the ninth inning when Bob Kennedy – in for defense for Edwards – tripled to center field and came home on Boudreau’s bunt single to make the game 10-6. Many Yankee fans were seen heading to the turnstiles in the top and middle of the inning, looking to get an early train home.

And while Klieman had cruised through the seventh and eighth innings, the ninth became a bumpy road. After back-to-back strikeouts from Klieman to start the ninth, DiMaggio hit a home run to left center field to cut the score to 10-7. His 11th round tripper of the season, followed by Niarhos’ single and Johnson’s walk, brought the tying run to the plate and the fans back to their seats.

It also forced Boudreau to go to the bullpen for Feller, yesterday’s starter, for a one-out save. Feller, who was shelled yesterday in Boston, did not have it much easier this evening. McQuinn singled over Robinson’s head at first base to load the bases.

With control being Feller’s problem yesterday, it started to look bleak when Phil Rizzuto drew a bases loaded walk to cut the Indians’ lead to 10-8. However, Harris only had third string catcher Sherm Lollar remaining on his bench to hit in the pitcher’s spot and Feller struck him out on four pitches to lock down the win. It was Feller’s second save of the season.

The victory extends the Indians’ lead to four games over the Yankees and keeps the three game lead over the Philadelphia Athletics intact. With three games remaining on their road trip, they’ll return home in no worse than a tie for first place.

Saturday, the Indians and Yankees will play two for what they expect to be another large crowd. Tonight’s game had standing room only beyond the home run fence in left center field. Lefty Gene Bearden (6-1, 1.37) will stride to the center of the mound for the Indians, while the Yankees counter with Allie Reynolds (6-2, 3.62) in the first game. Cleveland sends Bob Muncrief (2-1, 3.26) against New York’s Spec Shea (3-5, 2.63) in the second game.

Photo: Cleveland Memory Project

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