September 9, 1948
Sam Zoldak (9-9, 3.64) could probably get used to this, as the Indians left-hander vultured his second extra inning win in as many days when the Indians used 13 frames to beat the Detroit Tigers by a score of 3-2.
The game promised to be a good pitcher’s duel and turned out to be just that, as Bob Feller and Hal Newhouser locked horns in a battle of All-Stars. Indians reliever Satchel Paige was unable to hold a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning, but Zoldak shut the Tigers offense down out of the bullpen for the second straight game until Eddie Robinson got the game-winning single in the 13th. The Robinson knock scored third baseman Ken Keltner, who was honored this evening at the Stadium for spending ten years with the Indians organization.
The Indians trailed for much of the evening, as Feller was the first pitcher to allow a run in the top of the third. With two outs and runners on first and second, Dick Wakefield singled into right field, scoring Johnny Lipon. A good throw by Allie Clark got Neil Berry out at third base on the play, but Lipon had touched home before Keltner could tag the runner out.
From there, things were very quiet for both offenses as Feller and Newhouser continued to shut hitters down. Feller worked through the seventh inning allowing just the one run and struck out seven, while Newhouser worked through the eighth inning. The Tiger ace was working on a two-hit shutout in the bottom of the seventh, when the Indians finally broke through.
After Keltner had led off the inning with a fly out, Larry Doby singled to left field to extend his impressive hitting streak to 20 ball games. Last night’s hero, Wally Judnich, followed Doby’s single with one of his own and then Jim Hegan loaded the bases with a third straight hit. Bob Kennedy, pinch-hitting for Feller, then tied the score at 1-1 with a sacrifice fly to center field.
After Paige shut the Tigers down in the top of the eighth, the Tribe took the lead off of Newhouser and Detroit. Clark started the rally with a walk and moved to second on a Lou Boudreau sacrifice bunt. The next batter, Joe Gordon, singled home Clark and made the score 2-1 heading into the ninth.
Paige was unable to hold onto the victory, however, allowing a leadoff double to Sam Vico. After getting two big outs, Paige then surrendered the tying run on a single to Lipon, sending the game into extra innings tied at 2-2.
Zoldak entered the game after Paige walked Berry and got out of the jam in the ninth. He then pitched the following four innings and shut out the Tigers for the second consecutive day. Stubby Overmire and Virgil Trucks nearly matched Zoldak pitch for pitch, that is, until Trucks finally gave way in the 13th.
Trucks got two quick outs in the bottom of the 13th by retiring both Boudreau and Gordon to start the frame. He then walked Keltner and gave up a single to Thurman Tucker that moved Keltner into scoring position. That set the stage for Robinson, who ended “Ken Keltner Night” with his walk-off single to center that scored the honoree third baseman and gave the Indians a 3-2 victory.
The win was the Indians’ 80th victory of the season and third in a row and also allowed them to keep pace with the first place Red Sox, who once again defeated the Yankees on Thursday. The Tribe still sits in third place, 4.5 games behind Boston, but is now only one game behind New York for second.
The Tribe will look to sweep the Tigers on Friday and will send rookie left-hander Gene Bearden (13-7, 2.81) to the mound to try and do so. Detroit will counter with longtime Tiger left-hander Dizzy Trout (10-12, 3.10), a two-time All-Star who won 27 games for the ’44 Motor City Kitties.