July 25, 1948
When the Indians’ alarm clocks went off this morning in Boston, they opened their eyes to third place for the first time all season. Cleveland has resided solely in first or second place until their two losses in yesterday’s doubleheader to the Boston Red Sox.
Now losers of three in a row and five of their last six, many teams might be calling meetings or looking to place blame for their struggles, but not the Indians. This Tribe team appears more confident than ever. After years of not contending and second half collapses, the Tribe is bound to remain in the race.
“If that’s the best in the league, we’re in pretty good shape,” an anonymous player said after yesterday’s defeats.
Boston has now won eleven games in a row, passing the Indians in the standings, and is just a half game out of first place. Most national media thought the Red Sox were the favorite to win the pennant before the season began and are now back on their bandwagon after trimming an eleven-game deficit in the standings in less than two months.
Members of the Tribe think they will be fine in the next ten weeks of contention, citing several reasons. Most importantly, Boudreau’s boys blame themselves for their recent stretch of defeats, not their opponents. Had their pitching staff been more reliable over the entire East Coast stretch the skipper would not have had to use the bullpen so extensively. Even yesterday, just a pitch or two in the late innings could have turned both games the other way.
Offensively, Cleveland needs to improve their production around Boudreau. He’s not typically a home run hitter, but has hit in the cleanup spot for some time now. He’s the perfect fit in the third spot of the lineup. With Dale Mitchell and Larry Doby in front of him, Boudreau just needs someone to step forward with some thunder in the fourth spot. First baseman Eddie Robinson was slated to be that big bat, but he has struggled for much of the season, even battling Johnny Berardino for playing time of late. Both Joe Gordon and Ken Keltner’s power has cooled, too.
And while the Indians are confident they can rectify their problems internally, they’re most confident that they will win the pennant because of how the schedule fares down the stretch. Despite struggles at home this season, the Indians have many home games in the second half against second division teams like Detriot, St. Louis and Chicago. Boudreau touched on this two days ago. In September, while Boston battles the beasts of the east, Cleveland will face the mess out west in the waning days of the pennant race.
That’s a heavy advantage for the Tribe in September.
So, while fans may be panicked with the Tribe’s recent play, they shouldn’t be. The Tribe’s not panicked, they think that they can fix it and they think the season has a lot of important games remaining to play.