August 8, 1948
If Sunday’s second game is any indication of how the remainder of the season will go, the Indians have little to worry about.
With their leader and manager Lou Boudreau coming up with a key base hit to help win the first game, the supporting cast came to the rescue of their ailing skipper in the second game. After up and down seasons for each, Larry Doby, Eddie Robinson and Steve Gromek carried much of the load in the nightcap and gave the Tribe a tightly contested, 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees in front of 73,484.
Today’s crowd establishes a new three-day attendance record for organized baseball. In games Friday, Saturday and today, the Indians and Yankees drew 188,081.
Doby was the first supporting cast member to make an impact. In the top of the fourth inning, Yankees first baseman George McQuinn crushed a ball headed for the seats, but Doby raced to the wall and timed his jump perfectly to bring the ball back into play. The fine leaping grab robbed McQuinn of a homer and kept the game scoreless.
Robinson made his mark in the contest in the top of the fifth inning when he smoked a home run into the right field seats. Robinson’s 13th homer of the season was his third of the day after having not hit one in over a month. Boudreau has felt a knee injury has created his month long slump. Robinson just felt good all afternoon. The homer gave the Indians a 1-0 lead.
“Just seemed to be swinging in the groove,” Robinson said. “That first one loosened me up and I felt good in there the rest of the afternoon.”
Ironically, another fine play by Doby in the top of the sixth inning gave the Yankees their only run in the game. Billy Johnson singled off Gromek with two outs. Phil Rizzuto followed with a single to right field and Johnson dug for third base. Doby picked up the base hit and fired a strike to third base that hit Johnson in the back. The throw caromed off Johnson and into stands. Doby was charged an error, Johnson was given home plate and the Yankees tied the game at one.
The Yankees starter, Bob Porterfield, was doing his best to hold the Indians down through six innings. Making his major league debut, the Indians knocked the rookie out of box, literally, in the seventh inning. Joe Gordon singled to start the inning and Johnny Berardino bunted him to second. Robinson was intentionally walked before Jim Hegan singled to center field and Gordon came racing home to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.
Boudreau pinch-hit for Gromek with Hal Peck, seeing a chance to add to their lead. Peck lined a pitch right back up the middle and off of Porterfield’s hand. The ball ricocheted to shortstop and Peck was thrown out, but Porterfield had to be removed from the game and taken to the hospital for x-rays. Tommy Byrne retired Dale Mitchell to end the inning with the Indians up just a run.
Porterfield (0-1) pitched well in his big league debut, allowing two hits and four runs in six and two-third innings, but it would not be enough this afternoon. He was outshined by Gromek (6-2) who also allowed only four hits and just the unearned run over seven innings.
Ed Klieman worked the final two innings of the game, only allowing a hit and earning his fourth save of the season. Klieman’s save may not have been possible without a fine running catch by Doby on a hit by Joe DiMaggio in the eighth inning. Had the ball dropped it would have been at least a double, but Doby ran at a dead sprint to the right field line to make the catch, flying into the Tribe bullpen after making the grab.
“I lost the ball and watched him keep coming and wondered when he was going to put up his glove and make the catch,” Bob Muncrief said in regards to his view from the bullpen. “He was going into the sun and must have run 60 yards for it. When DiMaggio hits one along that right field line you usually concede a base hit, but not Doby.”
“Yeah that one was terrific,” Russ Christopher drawled, “but I sort of liked that one on McQuinn’s hit too.”
Klieman finished the ninth inning and the Indians had their doubleheader sweep. The win also gave the Indians three of the four games against the Yanks in the series. For Doby, Robinson and Gromek, their performances are hopefully a sign of things to come for the Tribe’s stretch run. Doby and Robinson have battled injuries at times this season and Gromek has been inconsistent on the mound in starting roles.
The doubleheader win keeps the Indians tied with the Philadelphia Athletics in the standings and six percentage points ahead of them. New York drops to two games back and Boston is now two and a half games behind the leaders.
The Tribe finishes their homestand at 9-3 against the eastern teams. They’ll now embark on a rigorous seven-day, ten-game road trip to the west beginning tomorrow night in Detroit. Cleveland will play doubleheaders on Wednesday and Thursday in St. Louis to make up for rainouts from earlier in the season.
Gene Bearden (9-3, 2.68) will take the mound tomorrow night in Detroit for Cleveland against the Tigers’ Fred Hutchinson (7-7, 4.20). The rookie southpaw will be looking for his tenth win of the season for the Tribe and possibly join the growing over-achievers in the supporting cast.