August 23, 1948
After losing three straight to the cellar-dwellar Chicago White Sox at home this weekend, the Cleveland Indians embark on their final major road trip of the season tomorrow night at Fenway Park.
Cleveland will venture to Detroit for a three-game series in late September, but otherwise the Indians take to the train for the last trip of the season today. While it is the last road trip of the season, it is also the most brutal and critical for the Indians and their pennant hopes. The Tribe will play 17 games in six cities before returning home on September 8.
The Indians are currently clinging to a half game lead in the American League after their disappointing weekend and before they can look at the big picture of the road trip, they need to address the immediacy of the three-game series in front of them with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox have won ten of their last 12 games. Both teams appear to feel their final series with one another is critical since each have slated their top three pitchers to start.
Indians manager Lou Boudreau will start Satchel Paige (5-1, 1.33 ERA) Tuesday evening. The ageless right-hander brings a 20-inning scoreless streak to the mound against the most vaunted offense in the league, other than possibly the Tribe’s. Paige will be on three days rest between starts for the first time this season and it will be his first start against a first division club. Originally Boudreau was going to start Steve Gromek, but he feels Paige is the best available starter in the Tribe’s arsenal.
Joe McCarthy, Boston’s manager, will counter with right-hander Joe Dobson (13-7, 3.33) against the Tribe. Dobson has been shelved since last Thursday in preparation for tomorrow evening’s start. Dobson is 3-1 against the Indians this season and the Red Sox ace of the staff will try to pitch Boston by Cleveland.
Boudreau will send his best available on Wednesday and Thursday when Bob Lemon takes the mound, followed by Bob Feller. McCarthy has not officially named starters for the two games, but it is believed left-hander Mel Parnell and righty Jack Kramer will each take to the slab against the Tribe.
Cleveland leads Boston by a half game and the team taking at least two of three games in this series will take control of the league with just over a month, or 36 games, remaining. After leaving Boston, the Tribe will head to the Bronx for three games in two days with the Yankees. New York’s 11-1 win on Monday afternoon has cut their deficit to just one and a half games in the standings.
While the next six games will be a major step in determining the 1948 pennant winner, the Indians will earn their World Series ticket by their ability to defeat the lesser teams in the American League. After the next six games the Indians have one home make up game against Boston and one against New York. The rest of their schedule – home and road – is against the fading Philadelphia Athletics and the second division teams.
After the six critical games this week against the Red Sox and Yankees, the Tribe will play three games in Washington, followed by two in Philadelphia before traveling from the Liberty Bell all the way to the Mississippi River in St. Louis to take on the Browns. The Indians will finish their six-city trip with three games in St. Louis on September 3 and 4 before playing a Labor Day doubleheader in Chicago.
How the Indians fare this week and on this road trip will go a long way in determining how important their last 21 home games in 24 contests will be.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project