Early Lead Slides Away In Beantown; Red Sox 6, Indians 5

July 24, 1948

The Indians had an early lead after two innings and seemed to have control of the contest until the Boston Red Sox rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to steal the opener of the Saturday doubleheader, 6-5, at Fenway Park.

The loss by the Tribe puts them in jeopardy of falling out of the first place spot in the American League for the first time since June 1. Cleveland outhit the Red Sox, 11-10, but also stranded more base runners, 13-11. Another run or two could have been the difference for Indians starter, Bob Lemon.

Boston remained blistering hot right out of the gate to start the game. Winners of ten in a row now, the Sox looked to put this game away quickly on Lemon. Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky started the game with back-to-back singles. Newly healthy Ted Williams doubled to right field, scoring both runners and giving the Red Sox a 2-0 lead after just three hitters. Williams played yesterday against Chicago for the first time since July 9.

Vern Stephens walked to put two on with no one out, but Lemon was able to slow down the offense for a bit. He got Bobby Doerr and Sam Mele to each fly out before Billy Goodman singled to left field to score Williams, giving Boston a 3-0 lead after just an inning.

Cleveland rallied immediately in the top of the second inning after two were gone. Jim Hegan walked and Bob Lemon hit his fourth home run of the season to cut the deficit to 3-2. Lemon’s blast narrowly squeaked into the right field seats.

Dale Mitchell extended his hitting streak to 21 games with a single to left field and Larry Doby knocked a hit to center field to continue the rally. Hank Edwards took Red Sox starter Jack Kramer’s outside fastball down the left field line and into the corner, allowing both Mitchell and Doby to race home and give Cleveland a newfound 4-3 lead.

After big rallies by both teams, the offense settled down and both Kramer and Lemon found a groove. However, Johnny Pesky and Joe McCarthy weren’t around to see most of it. Pesky struck out looking in the bottom of the second inning and protested the call enough that home plate umpire, Johnny Stevens, threw Pesky out of the game. He was unaware and took his third base position at the end of the inning. When Stevens ordered him off the field, Red Sox manager McCarthy took umbrage himself, until he too was shown the gate. Billy Hitchcock took over at third base for Pesky.

Offenses and the offended remained quiet until Boston struck in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Doerr walked and Mele reach on a ground ball miscue by second baseman Joe Gordon. Billy Goodman made the Indians pay when he doubled off Mitchell’s shoe tops in left field, allowing Doerr to score an unearned run and tie the game. Lemon avoided further damage with a double play to end the inning.

Kramer, who has won eight straight decisions, was let off the hook when Boston tied the score. He lasted just four and one-third innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and five walks. Dave Ferriss came on in relief.

After finishing the fifth and becoming the pitcher of record in the bottom half, Ferriss handed the lead back to the Tribe in the top of the sixth. Mitchell singled to center field to start the inning, but was forced out on Doby’s grounder to shortstop. Edwards topped his RBI-double from the second inning with a RBI-triple to center, forcing Doby to the plate and regaining the lead, 5-4.

Ferriss avoided further damage when he walked Boudreau intentionally, then got Gordon to fly out to deep left field. The fly ball looked destined to be a three-run homer, but was caught by Williams right in front of the wall. After Ken Keltner walked, Johnny Berardino flew out to right field to leave the bases loaded. An inning that resulted in just one run had so much more potential and would later bite the Tribe in the backside and standings.

Lemon seemed in control once regaining the lead. He allowed a leadoff single to Ferriss to start the bottom of the sixth inning, but then retired six in a row before the eighth inning.

Still clinging to a one run lead, Lemon walked Goodman to start the eighth. Birdie Tebbetts was ruled out for interfering with catcher Jim Hegan while he bunted, but Goodman advanced to second base. Ferriss made the second out of the inning with a groundout to Boudreau.

And just as it looked like Lemon would leave another runner in scoring position, DiMaggio singled to left field and Goodman beat the throw to the plate to tie the game at five. Hitchcock chopped a ball over Lemon’s head that no infielder could make a play on and Williams sizzled a base hit to right field to load the bases.

Boudreau patted Lemon on the back and sent him to the showers in favor of Russ Christopher. Needing just an out to keep the game tied, Christopher walked Stephens, forcing in DiMaggio and giving the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. Doerr’s pop out to first base a batter later seemed futile as the Tribe drudged off the field.

Ferriss (6-2) sent the Tribe to defeat very quietly in the ninth inning with two groundouts and a strikeout by pinch-hitter Allie Clark to end the game. Ferriss allowed just three hits and one run in four and two-third innings of relief work. Lemon (13-8) was stuck with the loss. He allowed ten hits, six runs – only five earned – in seven and two-third innings. His seven walks forced him to work much harder than necessary at times, including in the eighth inning.

Cleveland drops a half game back in the standings into a virtual tie with Philadelphia, who currently is in play with Detroit. The Tribe will have to wait until days’ end to see where they fall in the standings, but for the first time since June 1, they might no longer be in first place.

The Tribe can help their pennant chances in the second game of the double header when lefty Sam Zoldak (5-6, 4.15) tries to stop the Tribe’s woes. Cleveland has now lost four of their last five games. McCarthy and Pesky will be permitted to participate in the second game of the twin bill. The Red Sox skipper will send their own portsider, Mel Parnell (6-5, 2.76).

Photo: ootpdevelopments.com

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