August 5, 1948
In a bizarre game Thursday afternoon that featured just three hits by the Indians, the victory and price for remaining in first place may have been a steep one.
The Indians scored all three runs on solo home runs, their only hits of the game, and Gene Bearden benefited from six double plays by the Indians defense to win 3-0 in front of just 13,967 fans at the Stadium. It was the shortest game of the season, a quick one hour and 30 minutes.
The sparse crowd of just under 14,000 fans was enough to break the Indians single season attendance mark set a year ago at 1,521,978. With 22 home games remaining and having logged 1,530,224 spectators already, the Tribe should break the two million mark and challenge the 1946 New York Yankees for the largest attendance figure for a season.
Cleveland took the lead in the bottom of the third inning when Jim Hegan hit his tenth home run of the season. The solo blast cleared the left field screen, traveling over 400 feet through a wind blowing in off the lake. Bearden followed with his first major league homer to go back-to-back with Hegan and stake the Indians to a 2-0 lead.
Those were the only two hits the Indians would muster off Senators’ starter Ray Scarborough (9-6). He pitched a solid seven innings, allowing just the two runs and walking two while striking out three. The two blasts were enough to defeat Scarborough for the first time this year. He had previously beaten the Tribe twice in one-run ballgames.
Bearden (9-3) meanwhile scattered six hits and four walks over nine innings and benefited from six double plays turned by the Tribe infield. Cleveland thwarted potential scoring opportunities in the fourth and sixth innings with twin killings.
The double play not turned in the top of the seventh inning could be the most notable play of the game, however. Bearden hit Coan with a pitch to put a man on first base with Tom McBride at the plate. McBride hit a grounder back to Bearden who threw to Boudreau, covering second base, to start a double play. The throw was low and toward the runner, forcing Boudreau to dive to save the throw from going into center field. The Tribe’s manager and shortstop snared the throw and recorded the force out but was shaken up on the play.
He remained in the game, turning a double play at the bag just two hitters later, but removed himself for a pinch-hitter in the bottom half of the seventh inning. Johnny Berardino played the final two innings at shortstop as Boudreau nursed shoulder and ankle injuries from the collision. He’s listed as day-to-day.
Cleveland tallied another insurance run for Bearden and their ailing skipper in the bottom of the eighth inning when Hegan hit his second home run of the game. The hit was only the Tribe’s third hit of the game, but gave them a 3-0 lead. Hegan’s eleventh homer of the year was the first time he had a multi-homer game in his career. Prior to this season he had only hit five homers in his career, four of which were last season.
The victory keeps the Indians racing alongside Philadelphia, New York and Boston in the standings. The Athletics hold a half game lead over Cleveland and New York, but the Tribe is two percentage points better. Boston is a full game behind the Athletics after losing yesterday and today to the St. Louis Browns.
Cleveland will ride a five-game winning streak into their weekend series with the Yankees beginning at the Stadium tomorrow. The Tribe and team president Bill Veeck expect 170,000 fans for the four-game series. Bob Feller (10-12, 4.26) will take the mound for the Tribe Friday night against southpaw and Indian antagonist Eddie Lopat (11-5, 3.33).
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project