June 26, 1948
Soon Bob Muncrief is going to become the third member of “The Bobs” as a full-time member of the starting rotation. One could argue that he’s already doing their job.
For the second time in a week, Muncrief snapped a small losing streak from escalating inside the Tribe locker room. Today’s win ended a three-game losing streak as the right-hander, acquired from St. Louis last winter, tossed a three-hit shutout and the Tribe pounded out 12 hits for a 5-0 victory in front of a sparse 7,183 fans. The Ladies Day crowd had 3,505 ladies and 2,873 children to swell the total to 13,561.
Muncrief made his first start in seven days, needing extra time to prepare from taking a Hank Majeski line drive off his throwing arm last Saturday, forcing him from the game in the seventh inning. Today, he pitched through pain but showed no signs of weakness during the game.
“I didn’t throw much breaking stuff, because it hurt my arm,” Muncrief said. “The arm is still sore from the line smash off Hank Majeski’s bat a week ago, but it didn’t bother me when I stuck to fast balls.”
“He had good stuff and held it all the way through,” Indians manager Lou Boudreau said. “His arm hurt him some out there but didn’t seem to interfere with his stuff. He had plenty his last start, too, before being hit by that line drive.”
Cleveland tallied three runs in the bottom of the first inning to subside any early pain Muncrief may have been feeling. All the offense came with two outs. After Dale Mitchell and Larry Doby grounded out, Boudreau singled to right field and scored when the next hitter, Hank Edwards, doubled down the left field line to make the score 1-0. Edwards moved into the cleanup spot today, replacing Eddie Robinson, who dropped to seventh in the order. The left-handed hitting Edwards feels good going the other way with the pitch.
“I used to hit to left quite a bit before,” Edwards said. “I tried to hit the ball to left then and I got a pretty good hold of it, too.”
Up a run, Joe Gordon walked before Ken Keltner laced a single to center field that allowed Edwards to score. Junior Wooten’s throw was wide of the plate, heading to the backstop, and allowed Gordon to trot home and make the score 3-0 after one inning.
Muncrief retired the first eight hitters he faced before his mound counterpart, Sid Hudson, snuck a base hit through the left side. He quickly rebounded to blow a fastball by Eddie Yost. Muncrief used his fastball often, staying away from off-speed pitches because of the lingering affects of his injury.
“It hurt every time I turned it over for a curve and it’s sore now, sort of tired-feeling like,” Muncrief said. “I’m going to soak it for a while now and I’m certain it’ll be alright for my next start.”
The Tribe added another run in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jim Hegan started the inning with a single and stole second base. Muncrief bunted him to third base and he came home on Mitchell’s single to right field, making it 4-0, Cleveland. After Doby singled to right field, Cleveland native and Senators’ manager Joe Kuhel had seen enough and ended Hudson’s evening. Dick Welteroth came on and finished the inning without further damage.
Hudson (3-7) lasted only three innings, despite facing four hitters in the fourth inning. He allowed seven hits and four runs – three earned – while walking three and striking out two.
The Indians tallied another run in the bottom of the fifth inning, but could have scored more had they been able to run the bases effectively. Ken Keltner singled to left field to start the inning off Welteroth and hustled home when Eddie Robinson hit an opposite field double. Robinson’s seventh double of the season and 40th RBI gave the Indians a 5-0 lead.
Muncrief singled and Mitchell walked with one out to set up another scoring opportunity. After Doby lined out to shortstop, it appeared Boudreau had come through with a two-run single to center field. However, Muncrief missed touching third base as he rounded the bag. When the Nats appealed, the two runs were taken off the board and Boudreau’s hit was ruled a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
It was more than enough offense for Muncrief, however, as he was still working on a one-hitter into the seventh inning. Bud Stewart singled to center field for the Nats second base hit of the game, but a one bounce smash from Mickey Vernon was hit right at Boudreau who stepped on the bag and threw to first base for a tidy, inning-ending double play.
Mark Christman singled in the eighth inning, but was forced out for the final out of the inning at second base. Muncrief (5-1) did not allow a Washington player to reach second base for the entire game. He went the distance, allowing just three hits and one walks while striking out seven.
“It made me feel swell to finish that game today, sore arm and all,” Muncrief said. “It’s the first time I finished a game I started this year. I’ll be alright from now on.”
Muncrief’s performance may have solidified him in the rotation despite not being 100 percent. If so, he’s ready to assume a regular spot. By the sounds of Boudreau, it seems his next start will be soon.
“The warm weather has helped him plenty,” Boudreau said. “I didn’t use him so much earlier because of the cool weather. He’ll take his turn now though.”
Today’s win keeps the Indians with a one-game lead over the Philadelphia Athletics and a one and a half game lead over the New York Yankees. Both teams won this afternoon, keeping pace with the Tribe. Doby quietly paced the Tribe with three hits as he is starting to become a mainstay again in the Tribe lineup.
Tomorrow the Indians wrap up their 15-game homestand with a doubleheader. Southpaw Gene Bearden (6-2, 2.78) will take the bump for the Tribe in the first game against Washington’s Ray Scarborough (5-4, 3.17). The second game of the twinbill will feature Indian newcomer Sam Zoldak (3-4, 4.31) looking to win his second start with Cleveland against the Nats’ Mickey Haefner (3-5, 3.63). Haefner, the soft-tossing lefty, has frustrated the Tribe several times this year.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project