June 12, 1948
In a seesaw battle between the Yankees and Indians, the Tribe was able to get a strong outing from Ed Klieman out of the bullpen to give them the final upswing in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Gene Bearden did not complete five full innings and the Indians needed to rally in the later innings to win 7-5. Joe Gordon and Ken Keltner keyed the late scoring with two RBI each. Gordon’s two RBI came by way of his sixth home run of the season.
The Yankees scored first in what turned out to be a back and forth affair. In the bottom of the second inning, Joe DiMaggio tripled to center field of Bearden to start the stanza. After Bearden got Bud Souchock to ground to Indians shortstop Lou Boudreau, who was playing in, Billy Johnson singled through the right side to give the Bronx Bombers an early 1-0 lead.
Cleveland responded with two runs of its own in the top of the third inning, swinging upward for the first time in the contest. Dale Mitchell bunted for a base hit to start the inning and Hank Edwards followed with a single to right field. New York right fielder Tommy Henrich threw to third base to try and cut down Mitchell, allowing Edwards to advance to scoring position as well. Boudreau hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring Mitchell home to tie the game and Eddie Robinson singled to center field to give the Tribe a 2-1 lead against their former teammate Allie Reynolds.
The Tribe held the slim margin until the bottom of the fifth inning when the Yankees erupted for three runs and chased Bearden from the game. Gus Niarhos walked to lead off the inning. After Reynolds struck out, Snuffy Stirnweiss doubled to right field to score Niarhos and tie the game at two.
Henrich singled to center field to score Stirnweiss and Johnny Lindell doubled to left center field to score Henrich and give the Yankees a 4-2 lead. The three straight hits ended Bearden’s game earlier than any other point this season. He managed to pitch only four and one-third innings, allowing seven hits and four runs while walking two and striking out four. Steve Gromek came on in relief to finish the inning without any further damage.
Cleveland began work in the top of the sixth inning, however, to keep Bearden’s 6-1 pitching record intact. With one out, Keltner walked and Joe Tipton singled to left field to advance Keltner 90 feet. Seeing a chance to get back in the game, Boudreau pinch-hit for Gromek with Larry Doby. Doby popped up to shortstop, however, leaving the two out pressure to Mitchell, who doubled down the line scoring Keltner and cutting the deficit to 4-3.
Edwards flew out to center field and was unable to drive in Mitchell and Tipton from scoring position, but the lead was cut to 4-3 and Kliemann entered the game. The former Tribe starter kept the Yankees at bay for the next three innings, keeping the Bombers scoreless in the sixth, seventh and eighth frames.
Down just one, the Tribe retook the lead in the top of the seventh inning when Gordon crushed a two-run homer off Reynolds with two out. The blast was Gordon’s sixth homer of the season and gave the Indians a 5-4 lead. It landed in the lower level of the left field stands in what some fans used to call “Gordon’s Corner.” Gordon and Reynolds were traded for each other after the 1946 season.
The wig-wammers finally sent Reynolds to the showers in the top of the ninth inning. Edwards singled and Boudreau walked to start the inning. Robinson’s bunt attempt forced Edwards out at third base, so Judnich bunted to the first base line. This time the runners were able to advance, but now the Tribe had two outs.
After Gordon was intentionally walked, Keltner laced a single through the left side scoring both Boudreau and Robinson, making the score 7-4, Cleveland. Despite being an out from a complete game, Yankees manager Bucky Harris removed Reynolds in favor of Karl Drews. Reynolds (6-3) allowed eleven hits, six walks, and seven runs in eight and two-thirds innings. Reynolds has lost three of his last four decisions.
Klieman, who had cruised for three innings, ran into some trouble in the ninth inning with a leadoff, pinch-hit double to right from Bobby Brown. Sensing fatigue in Klieman and the top of the Yankee order coming to the plate, Boudreau motioned for yesterday’s starter, Bob Lemon, to come in and close the game. Lemon got Stirnweiss and Henrich to ground out to third base before Lindell singled home Brown to cut the score to 7-5.
Lemon was able to buckle down and pop DiMaggio out to second base and seal the victory for Klieman (3-0) and the Tribe. The right-handed reliever allowed the one hit to Brown in the ninth in his three innings of work, but was charged for the late run. The save was Lemon’s first of the season.
The victory is the second for the Tribe in as many games in this series in New York and currently gives them a five game lead over the defending World Series champs. The Yankees have slipped back into third place behind the Philadelphia Athletics.
Cleveland will look to take the third game of the four-game set and sweep the doubleheader when Bob Muncrief (2-1, 3.26) makes the start for the Tribe against the Yankees’ righty Spec Shea (3-5, 2.63) this afternoon.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project