June 21, 1948
After an exciting afternoon yesterday where 82,871 saw the Indians sweep the Philadelphia Athletics, the city was riding high. Some of that air might have been taken out of the sail this evening for the meager 49,837 who showed up when the New York Yankees arrived to town and throttled the Tribe, 13-2.
Cleveland fell behind early and could not recover, as the Yankees pounded out 18 hits in their rout. The loss by the Tribe pulls the streaking Yankees back to within two and one-half games of the top of the standings. New York, winners of four in a row, was six games back just eight days ago.
New York took the lead in the top of the first inning off Tribe southpaw hurler Gene Bearden. Bearden walked Phil Rizzuto and Tommy Henrich to start the game and watched them scoot into scoring position on a double steal. Johnny Lindell struck out for the first out, but Joe DiMaggio grounded into the hole at shortstop and Lou Boudreau had no choice but to throw to first and allow the Yankees to take an early 1-0 lead.
The Tribe evened the score in the bottom of the second inning off of former Indian pitcher Allie Reynolds. Wally Judnich singled to right to bring home Eddie Robinson, who started the inning with a single to center field. Judnich’s two-out base hit tied the game at one after two innings. Judnich had been benched this weekend due to his lack of offense in favor of Larry Doby. However, a leg injury has sidelined Hank Edwards, moving Doby back to right field and Judnich back to center field.
New York took control of the game in the fourth inning when DiMaggio led off the inning with a solo home run. DiMaggio’s 15th homer of the season landed in the right center field seats and moved him to just one bomb behind the Tribe’s Ken Keltner for the American League lead.
While Bearden’s control was shaky in the beginning of the game, his control found the strike zone but the Yankees were able to hit everything on a line, blowing open the game. After DiMaggio’s homer Bud Souchock doubled to left and Gus Niarhos singled to right field to put runners on the corners. Snuffy Stirnweiss doubled and Reynolds followed with a single to plate three more runs and make the score 5-1 in the middle of the fourth.
New York ended Bearden’s evening in the top of the sixth inning when Stirnweiss hit his second home run of the season, a solo blast to left field to extend the score to 6-1. After Reynolds, Rizzuto and Henrich each singled, bringing home another run, Bearden headed for the showers, trailing 7-1.
Bearden (6-2) failed to win his seventh game of the season for the third time, pitching only five and one-third innings, allowing eleven hits and seven runs while walking three and striking out two. Bearden has struggled much of the season against the Yankees. Steve Gromek came on in relief, pitching the final three and two-third innings.
The Tribe made their last effort to get back into the game in the bottom of the sixth inning when Robinson hit a solo home run to right field, cutting the score to 7-2. Robinson’s eighth bomb of the year was the last scoring threat the Tribe had in the game.
Meanwhile, Reynolds – the former Tribesman – has turned into a bit of an Indian killer since being traded after the 1946 season. Reynolds, in addition to keeping the Tribe bats quiet, was 3-for-5, with four runs batted in during the game, including a single in the top of the seventh that brought home two more runs and extended the Yankee lead to 9-2.
New York tacked on another run in the eighth inning, then the Tribe helped throw three more runs the way of the Yanks in the ninth. After Gromek allowed a single to Niarhos and walk to Stirnweiss, Reynolds tried to bunt the two to scoring position. Gromek fielded the bunt and threw wild to third base and the ball flew down the left field line, allowing both runners to score. Left fielder Dale Mitchell corralled the throw down the line and threw to third base to try and cut down Reynolds, but his relay throw hit the bag and caromed into foul ground again so that Reynolds could round the bases and make the score 13-2.
Reynolds (8-3) was trouble for the Tribe at the plate and on the mound. He went the distance this evening, scattering nine hits and allowing just two runs as he danced around eight walks and struck out four.
Gromek was no better than Bearden for the Tribe tonight. He allowed seven hits and six runs in three and two-thirds innings. Since his complete game spot-start against the Athletics on June 6, Gromek has allowed runs in four of his six relief appearances. His ERA has escalated from 2.48 after his start to 4.11 at the end of tonight’s game.
Cleveland remains two and one-half games in first place, but New York continues to make ground and Philadelphia is still just four games back despite being swept yesterday and losing 9-8 in St. Louis tonight.
The Tribe will try to get back on track Tuesday afternoon when left-hander Sam Zoldak (2-4, 4.67) makes his Indians debut. The Tribe acquired him from the St. Louis Browns on June 15, but he has yet to make an appearance as he has been rounding into shape and trying to lose some extra weight. He did make one start against New York this season on June 6 and left with a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning, but took a no-decision when the Bombers rallied to win.
He’ll be opposed by right-hander Spec Shea (3-7, 3.12) of the Yankees. Cleveland lit Shea up for six runs in six innings in the second game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on June 12.
Tribe leadoff man and center fielder Thurman Tucker is expected to be back in the lineup tomorrow afternoon. Tucker has not started a game since May 29 in Chicago when he broke the tip of his left index finger. He has appeared in three games as a pinch-runner, but his .299 batting average at the top of the batting order will be a welcomed addition to the offense.