July 1, 1948
After not getting a hit last night, the Detroit Tigers exploded for 13 base knocks this afternoon, snapping Bob Muncrief’s scoreless innings streak and sending the Tribe to a 9-5 loss.
Cleveland fell behind early, but battled back to take a late lead, only to see Detroit’s comeback one-up its own. It was Detroit’s first victory against the Tribe at Briggs Stadium this season, finally giving the 11,644 fans in attendance something to cheer about. The Indians had won the first five games between the two in the Motor City.
Muncrief added another inning to his 25 1/3 inning scoreless streak before the Tigers’ Pat Mullin washed it away with a one-out home run to right field in the second inning. His eleventh home run of the season gave Detroit an early 1-0 lead.
Mullin again instigated the Tiger scoring in the bottom of the fifth inning when he led off the frame with a double down the right field line. After advancing to third base on a passed ball by Tribe catcher Jim Hegan, he trotted home on a single to center field by Sam Vico. Cleveland finally recorded an out when Bob Swift bunted, moving Vico to second base.
After Tiger starting pitcher Fred Hutchinson grounded out to first base, moving Vico to third, Johnny Lipon doubled down the left field line, scoring Vico. Eddie Mayo immediately singled, chasing Lipon home and making the game 4-0 in favor of the Tigers. Steve Gromek came on to relieve Muncrief and allowed a single to George Kell, but Mayo was thrown out by right fielder Hank Edwards at third base to end the inning.
Muncrief lasted only four and two-third innings, allowing seven hits and four runs, while walking one Bengal. After several strong starts, Muncrief laid an egg just as he seemed to be solidifying himself in the rotation.
Meanwhile, Hutchinson scattered just four hits over the first six innings of play. The Tribe finally tallied some runs on the right-hander in the seventh inning. Joe Gordon walked and Ken Keltner singled to left field to start the frame. Thurman Tucker pinch-hit for Hegan and grounded to second base, advancing both runners into scoring position. Eddie Robinson pinch-hit for Gromek and singled to right field, bring home both Keltner and Gordon and cutting the Tiger lead to 4-2. Keltner was the Tribe’s hitting star of the game with three hits.
Sam Zoldak came out of the bullpen in relief of Gromek and worked a three-up, three-down seventh inning before the Tribe came back up and scored three more runs to take the lead. Lou Boudreau singled to right field and advanced to second on Edwards’ ground out. Cleveland cut the lead to one when Wally Judnich singled home Boudreau, making it 4-3, Detroit. Judnich and Boudreau each had two hits in the game.
Cleveland came all the way back, and looked to possibly steal the game, when Gordon smashed Hutchinson’s first pitch into the left field stands. Gordon’s 12th homer gave the Tribe a 5-4 lead and ended Hutchinson’s day. A solid six innings were spoiled in just four outs for Hutchinson as he allowed nine hits and five runs for the day. Lefty and star Hal Newhouser came in from Detroit’s bullpen after being shellacked by the Tribe just two days ago. He ended the Indians threat by finishing the eighth inning.
It was revealed earlier this week that Bill Veeck paid $110,000 cash to the St. Louis Browns to obtain Zoldak. He did not get his money’s worth in the bottom of the eighth today, however. After retiring the first hitter, Zoldak allowed a single to Kell and double over Judnich’s head in center field. Dick Wakefield’s two-base hit scored Kell and tied the game at five runs each.
Russ Christopher, a contract Veeck purchased last winter from Philadelphia, came on in relief of Zoldak, but had no better luck. After intentionally walking Hoot Evers to set up a double play possibility, he unintentionally walked Mullin to load the bases. Vico issued the crushing blow, doubling down the right field line to score two runs and make it 7-5, Detroit. The pitcher Newhouser put the final nail in the coffin when he tripled, 405 feet to center field, to score two more and make it a 9-5 Tiger lead.
Newhouser (10-6) earned the last three outs from the Tribe and the win in relief. He pitched the final inning and two-thirds, allowing just two hits. Zoldak (4-5) suffered the loss for Cleveland, allowing two hits, but the two pivotal runs to give Detroit back the lead. Christopher was no better, allowing two hits and three runs in his two-thirds of an inning of work.
The loss by the Tribe leaves them clinging to first place by just their fingertips. Cleveland heads to St. Louis for a four-game series this weekend with just a half-game lead over the Philadelphia Athletics and a one-game lead on the New York Yankees. Each won their games at home this afternoon to creep closer to the top spot.
Cleveland will take the train from Detroit to St. Louis this evening and prepare for tomorrow night’s game. The Indians will have Don Black (2-1, 5.59) on the mound against the Browns’ rookie left-hander and former Tribesman Bill Kennedy (1-1, 6.31). Kennedy was dealt from Cleveland to St. Louis just 15 days ago at the trade deadline. The portsider has pitched just two games since being dealt to the Brownies, but pitched eight strong innings and only allowed one earned run despite losing the Boston Red Sox on June 27.
Photo: Detroit Free Press files