Indians Rally Not Enough, Lose Nightcap and Ground in Standings; Browns 4, Indians 3

September 3, 1948

With an opportunity to make up a half game on the Boston Red Sox in the standings and at least hold pat with the New York Yankees with a win, the Tribe instead fell behind early and couldn’t catch up in time, losing the second half of the twi-night doubleheader to the St. Louis Browns 4-3 in front of 9,473 fans at Sportsman’s Park.

Sam Zoldak was roughed up early by his former teammates and could not survive the third inning as the Browns scored four times in the first four innings. Cleveland rallied back against St. Louis starter Joe Ostrowski, but several sharply hit balls right at fielders resulted in double plays and rally killers. The loss instead drops the Indians to two full games behind the Red Sox. New York is now just a half game behind Boston for the top spot.

St. Louis took the lead quickly in the bottom of the first inning when Bob Dillinger singled to left, Al Zarilla reached on an infield single and Jerry Priddy singled back up the middle. Priddy’s base hit brought home Dillinger and gave the Browns an early 1-0 lead.

Cleveland had a chance to get the run back in the top of the second inning when one-out base hits by Ken Keltner and Larry Doby put runners on the corners with just one out. However, Eddie Robinson hit a smash right at Priddy, who was able to turn the hard hit ball into an inning ending double play.

After his nice defensive play Priddy sparked the Brownie offense in the bottom of the third inning with a double to right field to start the action with one out. Whitey Platt singled to left to bring home Priddy and make it 2-0. Don Lund and Les Moss followed to make it four straight hits off Zoldak. Moss’ single to center field brought home Platt and made it 3-0. With Moss advancing to second on the throw home, Lou Boudreau elected to replace Zoldak and limit the damage.

Steve Gromek came on to finish the inning without allowing St. Louis to score again. Zoldak (7-9) had a subpar start against his former team, lasting just two and one-third innings, giving up three runs and seven hits with a pair of walks.

Zarilla extended the Browns’ lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning when he hit a solo home run. His eighth homer of the season was the only run Gromek would allow in two and two-third innings, yet would become the difference in the game.

The Indians started the rally effort in the seventh inning and had a chance to score even more, if not for a great defensive play. Boudreau singled to left field to start the inning and advanced to second base on a ground out by Joe Gordon. Keltner then tripled to deep center field, bringing home Boudreau and getting the Tribe on the scoreboard. Doby lined out to left field, deep enough for Keltner to hustle home and cut the lead to 4-2.

It appeared that the rally would not end there, however. With two gone in the inning, Robinson and Hegan each singled to center field. With a chance to get back in the game, Boudreau called back Don Black – who had pitched the sixth inning – in favor of pinch-hitter Bob Kennedy. He smoked what appeared a hit destined for extra bases and would have potentially tied the game if it would have found the left-center field gap. Instead, little Eddie Pellagrini made a sensational leaping catch at shortstop to end the inning.

In the eighth the Indians had another chance to get back in the game. After singles by Mitchell and Clark put runners on the corners with no one out, Boudreau grounded to third base and the Browns turned a 5-4-3 double play around the horn. While Mitchell was allowed to score to cut the score to 4-3, it thwarted the rally and made Gordon’s single to left field moot. Keltner flew out to right field to end the inning and the last hope for the Tribe.

Cleveland went quietly in the ninth and Ostrowski (3-3) earned the complete game victory. The rookie 31-year-old left-hander has now logged two of his three victories against the Tribe. He lasted all nine innings, allowing three runs on ten hits and a walk, while striking out three. Both of his victories against the Indians have come at Sportsman’s Park.

Ed Klieman pitched the final two innings for the Tribe, not allowing a run. Cleveland out-hit the Browns ten to nine, but its three double plays were part of its inability to plate the tying run in the game.

The loss snaps the Tribe’s four-game winning streak and drops them two full games in back of the Red Sox. Both Boston and New York are playing very good baseball and making ground in the standings is becoming very difficult.

The Tribe will try to get back to their winning ways on Saturday night when Satchel Paige (6-1, 1.66) will look for his seventh win of the season. The ageless Alabaman threw a complete game victory at Washington in his last start. St. Louis will counter with rookie Ohioan Ned Garver (6-8, 3.44).

Photo: ootpdevelopments.com

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