August 9, 1948
For much of July the Cleveland Indians and Eddie Robinson were each stuck in a slump, trying to survive in a pennant race. Often, Robinson drew brunt of the blame, citing if he would get hot and provide power in the middle of the order, the Tribe too would get hot.
Those backing Robinson might have been right.
Robinson hit his fourth home run in three games Monday night, pacing the Indians past the Tigers 6-2 at Briggs Stadium in front of 56,586 fans. The crowd was the largest in Detroit’s home schedule. Gene Bearden benefited from Robinson’s offense and stifled the Tigers for his seventh complete game of the season.
Bearden and Detroit starter Fred Hutchinson each allowed just one hit over the first three innings, but the Tribe struck for a big inning in the fourth. Thurman Tucker snapped a 0-for-13 slump with a single to right field to start the inning and Larry Doby followed with a single to center field, advancing Tucker to third base. Ken Keltner lofted a fly ball to right field deep enough to bring Tucker home and give the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Joe Gordon created some drama when he took to the plate after Keltner. He shot a line drive down the left field line that appeared to sail into the stands for a home run, but umpire Bill McGowan ruled it was a foul ball. Indians manager Lou Boudreau immediately left the dugout to protest the call. Several players, including Gordon, hollered at McGowan. After Boudreau slammed his cap and stomped the ground in disgust, he returned to the dugout the loser of the argument.
Gordon was hit in the shoulder on the next pitch by Hutchinson, putting runners on first and second base with just one out. Robinson then jerked a pitch down the right field line that could have started another argument if it had not hit the right field foul pole. The three-run homer was his 14th of the season and gave the Indians a 4-0 lead. His four home runs and seven runs driven in during the last three games are more than he mustered in the entire month of July.
After six innings and just four scattered hits, the Tigers finally got to Bearden in the bottom of the seventh. Dick Wakefield singled to center field to start the inning before Johnny Lipon pulled a liner down the left field line. Dale Mitchell nearly caught the ball, but it glanced off the screen and rolled away from him. Lipon raced around the bases to third for a triple, scoring Wakefield. Lipon later scored on a fielder’s choice on the infield to cut the score to 4-2.
Detroit would get no closer, however. In his first start against the Tigers, Bearden had players swatting at his knuckleball. When the southpaw rookie has control of his floater he has proven to be very tough this season. Bearden (10-3) allowed seven hits and just the two runs while walking two and striking out three.
Bearden helped tally insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings. He started the eighth with a single to right field and scored on a double down the right field line by Tucker. In the ninth, Bearden singled to center and when Hoot Evers misplayed the ball, Johnny Berardino was able to race all the way from first base to score the Tribe’s final run and make it 6-2.
Tucker, Doby and Robinson led the Tribe’s offensive attack with two hits each. The trio had more than half of the Indians eleven hits on the evening.
Hutchinson (7-8) suffered the loss, going the distance. He was responsible for all six runs and eleven hits. The home run to Robinson was the crushing blow of the game, but he was outshined by Bearden.
The win moves the Indians into sole possession of first place, a half game ahead of Philadelphia. Cleveland is now 61-39 after 100 games. All three contenders were idle on Monday allowing the Indians to make ground with their ninth win in ten games.
Tomorrow afternoon the Indians will look for a quick two-game sweep in the series. Bob Feller (11-12, 4.44) looks to win his third straight decision and even his record for the season. Detroit has beaten Rapid Robert once as a starter and a reliever this season. The Bengals of Motor City will send 23-year-old hometown rookie southpaw Ted Gray (1-0, 3.13) to the hill. He pitched a 1-0 victory in ten innings against Washington in his first start last week.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project