September 17, 1948
With an 0-for-4 at the plate on Thursday, Lou Boudreau is officially in a hitting slump.
He is hitless in each of his last eleven trips to the plate and has just two hits in his last 24 at bats (.083). He reached with a single in Sunday’s 3-3 tie against St. Louis and a double the next day, again against the Browns. He has walked twice and driven in two runs, but has not crossed the plate himself.
The slump is not believed to be due to Boudreau not seeing the ball well or having some unlucky hops in the field. He is still dealing with complications from the right thumb injury he sustained when jamming the finger against Washington in a slide at home plate. He is using a rubber cushion on his bat to protect the injury but he is not able to generate much power with that right hand.
Boudreau visited with club physician, Dr. Edward Castle, after he originally hurt the thumb. He was told that a jammed thumb like the one he had oftentimes takes months to heal and that he may still feel sore at the base of his thumb come spring training next season.
The poor play at the plate during the slump has dropped his season batting average from .367 to .355. It has effectively removed him from all consideration in the American League batting race. Chasing down the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, and his .379 batting average, may be too much to handle at this stage of the season.
Teammate Dale Mitchell has since surpassed him for the AL lead in hits as well, with 182 to Boudreau’s 180.
Despite Boudreau’s struggles with the bat, the Indians are 4-2 with a tie in the seven games he has appeared in during that span.
Teammate Larry Doby has dealt with a similar injury after jamming his left thumb at second base while sliding. After sitting out for a week, he returned and hit a key grand slam in his first at bat back in the lineup.
Boudreau, though, seems to have no intention on being out of the lineup while the team remains within reach of the American League pennant.
“That’s what I ought to do, take a few days off and give this thing a chance to heal,” Boudreau said prior to Thursday’s game. “But how can I take myself out of the lineup with the race this close?”
Boudreau may need to take some time to do something to get that finger healthy enough to help the Indians, because his current slump at the plate has not done anything to help a Tribe team in the pennant push. Luckily for Cleveland, the rest of the team has helped to pick up some of the slack and they have not fallen further back in the division while in pursuit of the postseason.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project