August 27, 1948
In a blistering 99-degree heat at Yankee Stadium, Bob Feller was just as hot as the August sun.
After Feller fell behind by a run in the bottom of the second inning, Rapid Robert was able to buckle down and go the distance for just the second time since the All-Star break, pitching the Indians to an 8-1 victory. He used a fastball that was fast enough and a sharp curve to work himself out of trouble and provided visions of the ace of old.
Today’s game gave a hope that Feller could still pitch the Indians to the pennant this season. They’ll need his help with the Boston Red Sox. His 13th victory kept the Indians a half game behind the Boston Red Sox. Boston defeated Chicago this afternoon 10-5 in a game that had heat over 100 degrees.
The 61,729 Yankee fans had every indication that their Bronx Bombers would continue to have their way with Feller in the second inning. The Heater From Van Meter was just 1-4 on the season entering today against New York and fell behind early. Joe DiMaggio singled to right field to start the inning and after getting two fly outs, Phil Rizzuto tripled over Dale Mitchell’s head in left field to score Joltin’ Joe and give the Yanks a 1-0 lead.
Cleveland evened the score in the top of the fourth inning, however. Ken Keltner blasted his 25th home run of the season to tie the game at one. His solo home run to lead off the inning was his first since July 31.
With the score even, Feller settled in and controlled the Yankees. After Rizzuto’s triple in the second inning, only one Yankee reached third base the rest of the game, and Feller himself could be to blame for that. In the seventh inning an infield single by Charlie Keller and walk to Billy Johnson put runners on first and second base with two outs. Feller tried to pick Keller off second base, but threw the ball into center field. Keller advance to third, but Feller got Snuffy Stirnweiss to fly out casually to right field to end the threat.
The Tribe was able to finally get to Yankee starter Vic Raschi for a flurry of runs in the seventh. Larry Doby started the inning with a single to center field and Eddie Robinson followed with one of his own, but the normally graceful DiMaggio booted the base hit and made it easy for Doby to score from first base and Robinson to advance to second on his miscue.
Leading 2-1, Jim Hegan and Feller each struck out before Mitchell singled to center field again and Robinson trudged home to give the Indians a 3-1 lead after seven innings.
Raschi (17-6) left after seven innings for a pinch-hitter. Before today he had been undefeated against the Tribe in four starts this season, but his three runs – only two earned – on six hits and two walks, while striking out eight, was not enough to match Feller on this day.
Left-hander Tommy Byrne came on to pitch the eighth inning for the Yankees but his luck against the Indians would only be worse. Lou Boudreau greeted Byrne to the game with a single and advanced to second base when Keltner walked. Joe Gordon broke out of his slump with a single to center field, bringing Boudreau around to score and Keltner to third base. Robinson surprised the Yankee defense with a squeeze bunt down the third base line. Third baseman Bobby Brown had no play at the plate on the runner and had to throw to first for the out while Cleveland extended their lead to 5-1.
The Tribe added three more runs in the ninth inning for good measure. Bob Kennedy walked to start the inning and moved to second base on Wally Judnich’s sacrifice bunt. Kennedy could trot home a couple pitches later when Boudreau jerked a two-run homer into the seats in left field to make it 7-1. It was the skipper’s 12th home run of the season.
After Keltner doubled for the 20th time this season Yankees manager Bucky Harris excused Byrne from the diamond. His lackluster effort left little doubt in the game’s outcome after he allowed five runs on four hits and three walks. Joe Page came on the finish the game. Doby put the finishing touches on the game with a single to left field that brought Keltner around and gave the Indians an 8-1 victory.
The story of the game remained Feller (13-14), however. Battered much of the season by the long ball, especially from New York, the Yankees never threatened with a big fly all day. He scattered six hits, with a walk and strikeout over nine innings. It was his 12th complete game of the year, but only second since mid-July. As the game carried on, the only thing that could sideline Feller before the end could have been the sweltering heat.
The win keeps Cleveland a half game behind the Red Sox in the standings and the Yankees drop to two games in back of first. New York is wearing black arm bands on their jerseys for the rest of the season to honor Babe Ruth, who died less than two weeks ago. The bands are reminiscent of the ones the Indians wore in 1920 after Ray Chapman was killed by a pitch thrown by Yankee Carl Mays.
With Boston playing just one game today, the Indians have a chance to crawl back to a tie with the Red Sox if they can win the second game of the twin bill. Steve Gromek (7-2, 2.88) will toe the rubber for Cleveland against the Yankees’ Allie Reynolds (13-6, 3.81).