September 7, 1948
With 23 games remaining in the 1948 season, the Cleveland Indians are going to need a couple things to happen if they still hope to win the pennant.
After splitting a doubleheader yesterday in Chicago, the Tribe is now four and a half games back of first place, the farthest out of first place they have been all season. In order to still win the pennant, Cleveland is going to have to play very well and Boston and New York will have to flounder.
First, the Indians are going to have to play great baseball over the final four weeks of the season. Indians manager Lou Boudreau has said several times throughout the season that he feels 95 wins will take the flag. After the Indians lukewarm 8-8 road trip, they currently stand at 78-53 on the season and will need to go 17-6 to get to the 95-win plateau.
While that might seem like a daunting task in itself, the Tribe needs help from its east coast foes. The Boston Red Sox will play most of the rest of their season in the east, but will only need to go 13-11 to reach the 95-win mark on their own. Likewise, New York needs to go just a little better, 14-9, in their final games to get to the same benchmark in pursuing the pennant.
The Tribe is going to have to play outstanding baseball, but both teams in front of them will have to play around mediocrity to even give Cleveland a chance.
Cleveland starts their 15-game homestand tomorrow evening when the Detroit Tigers chug across the lake to Municipal Stadium. Cleveland has won just seven of 13 matchups between the two teams and will need to start playing at a better clip to get those 17 necessary wins to reach 95 for the year.
Bob Lemon (19-11, 2.67) will start the Tribe’s final push for the pennant tomorrow evening. In addition to becoming the majors’ first 20-game winner, he’ll be pursuing his fourth straight shutout. Lemon has not been scored upon in his last 28 innings.
Another hot Indian, Larry Doby, will try to keep pacing the offense. Doby has hit safely in 18 consecutive games. His streak began on the Tribe’s last homestand and he has hit .324 since his hitting streak began. He’s just three games shy of tying Dale Mitchell’s 21-game hitting streak as the longest of the Tribe’s season.
Fred Hutchinson (11-8, 4.07) will try to end any final hopes to the Indians’ pennant chances. The right-hander is 2-2 in five starts against Cleveland this season.
Cleveland and Detroit will tangle Wednesday and Thursday evening before a Friday afternoon game. Boston and New York will face one another in Fenway Park. The two teams have eight remaining games against one another.
After Detroit leaves town Cleveland will welcome the St. Louis Browns for a pair of doubleheaders this weekend before the New York Yankees come to town for one game next Tuesday. Washington and Philadelphia will each come to Cleveland for a three-game series before the homestand ends with the Indians’ final game against the Red Sox for the season.
The Tribe then travels to Detroit for three games before coming home to finish the season for five games.
If Cleveland plans to make those final five games matter, they’ll need to play some of their best baseball of the season quickly.
Photo: Getty Images