Tribe Keeps Pace With Contenders Behind Bearden; Indians 6, Athletics 3

September 20, 1948

It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective in earning the necessary result.

It’s the best way to describe the Cleveland Indians and rookie left-hander Gene Bearden’s effort on Monday night. The southpaw and Purple Heart recipient matched up with fellow war hero Lou Brissie and earned the win 6-3 in front of 44,442 patrons at Municipal Stadium.

Bearden pitched the Tribe into the seventh inning but needed help from reliever Russ Christopher to complete the contest. It wasn’t Bearden’s best performance of his 16 wins this season, but it was enough to beat the struggling Athletics and keep the Tribe a half game behind Boston for first place in the standings and a half game ahead of third place New York. Each team won their game this evening.

Cleveland took the lead early in the game on an unearned run. Dale Mitchell started the bottom of the first with a grounder to shortstop that Eddie Joost misplayed, allowing the Tribe leadoff hitter to reach safely. After Allie Clark popped out to third base, Lou Boudreau walked to put runners on first and second base with one out. Joe Gordon posted the first Tribe tally on the board when he singled to left field and Mitchell scooted around to score an unearned run.

The Tribe extended their lead to three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ken Keltner singled to center field to start the inning and Larry Doby followed suit. Sam Chapman threw to third base to try and cut down Keltner, but when he slid under the tag, Doby was able to take second base. Wally Judnich slapped a single to left field to bring home Keltner and give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Jim Hegan followed with a fly ball to left that let Doby run home and extend the lead to three.

In the fifth inning Cleveland put another run on the scoreboard when Boudreau started the inning with a single to left field off Brissie. Gordon logged his 113th RBI of the season when he doubled into the right field gap. Boudreau was able to come all the way around from first to score and make the game 4-0 after five innings.

Meanwhile, Bearden was toiling a shutout despite more traffic on the bases than Public Square. Through six innings Bearden had allowed eight hits and two walks, but not a single Athletics player had scored. In both the first and fifth innings, Bearden allowed two singles with two outs, but found the third out before a runner reached the plate. In the sixth inning, a double and single had runners on the corners with one out, but Bearden induced pinch-hitter Don White to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Bearden’s luck ran out in the top of the seventh inning when he allowed three runs, but it could have been worse. Carl Scheib and Pete Suder each singled to start the inning. With runners on first and second, it appeared Bearden could again avoid serious trouble when Rudy York grounded back to him and he started a double play.

But Joost started the Philadelphia scoring when he singled up the middle, through the infield and Scheib scored from third base to make it 4-1 in favor of Cleveland. Barney McCosky followed with a single of his own to center field and Ferris Fain walked to load the bases.

With the tying runs on base, Boudreau relieved Bearden and called upon Christopher to limit the damage. The gangly southerner, needing just one out, walked Ray Coleman to force in a run. Chapman singled to left to bring home McCosky to cut the Tribe’s lead to just 4-3, with the bases still loaded. However, White lined out to Mitchell in left field to end the inning.

Bearden (16-7) lasted six and two-third innings, allowing three runs on 12 hits and two walks as he avoided trouble all evening. Christopher was one big hit away from allowing Philadelphia to take the lead, but ended the inning with the Tribe still in control.

Brissie (14-10) survived just five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and four walks. After Bubba Harris pitched a scoreless sixth inning, he was removed by Athletics manager Connie Mack for a pinch-hitter in the midst of the seventh inning rally. Bob Savage came on to pitch the final two innings for Philadelphia.

Gordon welcomed Savage to the game and quickly widened the margin of the Indians’ lead when he started the bottom of the seventh inning with a solo home run. His blast was his 29th round tripper of the season and 114th RBI, while extending the Indians’ lead to 5-3.

In the eighth inning the Tribe tallied another insurance run when Hegan singled to left field and advanced to second base on Christopher’s sacrifice bunt. Mitchell singled to right field, beating Coleman’s throw to the plate and the Tribe had a 6-3 lead after eight innings.

Christopher worked the final two and one-third innings, including the ninth, to earn his 17th save of the season. The right-hander has rebounded from a subpar August where it appeared the eastern heat may have caused fatigue to his slender frame.

Cleveland’s win keeps the team on pace with New York and Boston in the standings. The Indians will be idle tomorrow. Only Boston and Detroit play Tuesday afternoon in American League play. Boudreau and his boys will await the Boston Red Sox for a single game Wednesday on Don Black Night. A portion of the gate receipts will go to Black and his family to help take care of medical expenses stemming from a brain hemorrhage suffered on the field on September 13.

Bob Feller (16-14, 3.80) will try to remain the consistent pitcher that he’s been in most of September against Boston’s Joe Dobson (16-8, 3.28). Regardless of the Red Sox’s outcome in Detroit tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday’s game will have first place ramifications.

It is the last meeting between the top two teams in the American League this season. Boston currently holds an 11-10 edge in the season series.

Photo: Cleveland Memory Project

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