Tribe Hangs On in Extras, Still Hanging in Race; Indians 8, Tigers 7

September 8, 1948

One streak was extended and another one snapped, but most importantly the Indians were able to keep pace in the American League pennant chase as they defeated the Detroit Tigers 8-7 in eleven innings. The game was not without dramatics at the end.

With one out, the bases loaded and the score tied 7-7 in the eleventh inning, first baseman Wally Judnich sent a grounder toward Tiger second baseman Neil Berry, who fired home to try and cut down runner Larry Doby. The throw was low and pulled catcher Hal Wagner off the dish, allowing Doby to score the winning run. Wagner and Detroit skipper Steve O’Neill argued that the catcher gathered himself and touched home before Doby, but the argument fell on deaf ears as home plate umpire Eddie Hurley stood by his decision.

The call was a big one for the Indians, as they kept pace with the Boston Red Sox in the race to be the AL’s best. Boston defeated the New York Yankees, 10-6, so the Tribe picked up a game on the Bronx Bombers as well. The Indians remain four and a half games out of first.

The red hot Bob Lemon took the ball for Cleveland at the Stadium and was opposed by Detroit hurler Fred Hutchinson. Both starters were long gone when the game was decided.

Lemon came into the ball game with a 28-inning scoreless streak and had fired three consecutive shutouts. Both streaks were snapped in the fourth inning when Lemon walked the bases loaded with nobody out and Detroit scraped across two runs. The streak that was extended, however, was Doby’s 18-game hitting streak that is now at 19 after a four-hit performance from the Tribe center fielder.

The Indians took a 1-0 lead when Jim Hegan singled home Ken Keltner in the bottom of the second. They then pushed the advantage to 3-0 in the third when Judnich smacked a bases loaded single to push Joe Gordon and Allie Clark across the plate. Both Gordon and Clark had singled to spark the two-out rally.

The Tigers got two of the runs back in the top half of the fourth when Lemon lost control and walked Hoot Evers, Jimmy Outlaw and Sam Vico. A groundout by Bob Swift plated the first run and then a sacrifice fly from Hutchinson made the score 3-2. The runs were the first given up by Lemon since the ninth inning of the Indians victory over the White Sox on August 21.

Cleveland got one back in the bottom of the inning as a Lemon single, a Dale Mitchell sacrifice bunt and then a Doby single made the advantage 4-2. The Tigers, however, fought back again and scored a run in the top of the fifth on a Vico single that scored Evers.

The Indians took their biggest lead of the ball game in the bottom of the fifth, when Keltner singled and Lou Boudreau walked to put two on to start the inning. Back-to-back doubles by Judnich and Hegan scored three more runs and the Indians led 7-3.

Detroit fought back again, however, and used a Dick Wakefield home run to get a run closer in the sixth. A run in the seventh closed the book on Lemon and when Satchel Paige and Ed Klieman combined to give up two more in the eighth the game was tied at 7-7. Sam Zoldak (8-9, 3.76) was able to hold down the fort, pitching three and one-third innings of scoreless baseball until the Indians heroics in the eleventh. Art Houtteman (2-16, 4.44) was hit with the loss even though it was Ted Gray who gave up Judnich’s ground ball.

The crowd that saw the victory at Cleveland Stadium brought the season attendance total up over two million for the first time in club history and just the third time in baseball history. Only Yankee Stadium has hosted more people for one season, doing so in both of the past two seasons. The Indians will need to average just over 16,000 fans for their remaining home dates in order to break the Yankees record of 2,265,512.

The Indians and their fans will look for their second win in a row in the series and third overall on Thursday as Bob Feller (15-14, 4.06) will match up against Tigers ace Hal Newhouser (16-11, 3.40). Thursday’s contest figures to be a tight pitcher’s duel, as both Feller and Newhouser are two of the more talented hurlers in the American League.

Photo: baseball-birthdays.net

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