September 29, 1948
The 1948 pennant has not been spotted inside Municipal Stadium just yet, but its arrival is being eagerly anticipated.
The Indians took another step closer to earning their first World Series birth in 28 years with a come-from-behind victory to defeat the Chicago White Sox Wednesday afternoon, 5-2. The 13,559 fans in attendance saw Bob Feller win his seventh straight decision behind the offensive exploits of Joe Gordon and Ken Keltner. Each homered and doubled to provide the necessary offense for the Tribe in the sixth and seventh innings.
Both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees won their games to keep pace with the Tribe, but time is running out for both clubs. Both pennant chasers trail the Indians by two games with only three remaining on their schedules. Cleveland can guarantee itself no worse than a tie with another win and clinch the pennant with two victories.
However, it did not look like a positive day for the Indians’ place in the standings early in the contest. Cleveland fell behind in the top of the second inning when Chicago used three straight singles to take the lead off Feller. Taffy Wright walked to start the inning and after a batter was retired Aaron Robinson singled to center field to advance Wright to second. Cass Michaels singled home Wright to put the White Sox on the board and Floyd Baker singled back up the middle to bring home Robinson and give Chicago an early 2-0 lead. A smooth turn from Gordon-Boudreau-Robinson ended the inning without further damage.
Meanwhile, Chicago hurler Frank Papish held the Indians in control during the first half of the game. He scattered four hits and a walk through the first five frames, but never allowed more than one base runner in an inning. No Tribesman advanced past first base until Feller’s double in the fifth inning. Still, Papish mixed slow curves and change ups to keep the Indians off balance.
Cleveland finally was able to solve Papish’s array of pitches in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Allie Clark popped out to start the inning, Lou Boudreau walked and Joe Gordon crushed his 32nd home run of the season to tie the game at two and insert life into the crowd and the dugout.
“Sometimes after a couple of looks at a pitcher you can just about guess what he’s going to throw,” Gordon said. “Papish was quicker than he appeared and his slow stretch was tricky.”
“I know the ball I missed was a curve,” Gordon said. “I am not sure just what I hit. Guess it was a fastball. I’m certain of one thing – it was a great feeling to connect.”
Chicago’s lead they held for five innings disappeared just a hitter later when Ken Keltner hit a low liner near the left field foul pole and into the seats. His 30th home run of the season gave the Indians a 3-2 lead after six innings. Papish allowed hits to Eddie Robinson and Jim Hegan, but got out of the sixth without further damage.
Dave Philley pinch-hit for Papish in the top of the seventh inning, ending his day and a solid start. The southpaw Papish (2-8) pitched six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks. Four of his eight hits allowed were in the sixth inning and the two home runs were his downfall.
Randy Gumpert came on to pitch the seventh and quickly let the Indians extend their lead. Dale Mitchell walked to start the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hal Peck. After Boudreau popped out to third base, it appeared the Indians may strand Mitchell, but Gordon doubled to left field, scoring Mitchell, and Keltner doubled a batter later to bring home Gordon and the Tribe had a 5-2 lead.
Gordon and Keltner each had two hits on the afternoon and produced all the Indians’ run production. Gordon drove in three, while Keltner had the other two. Gordon now has 121 RBI for the season, far eclipsing his career high of 111 in 1939. Keltner’s 114th RBI today gave him a new career high as well, surpassing the 113 he had in his rookie season in 1938.
“It didn’t seem that he was throwing anything up to the plate but we couldn’t seem to hit him solidly,” Keltner said of Papish.
Mitchell’s two today made him the first American League hitter to reach 200 hits this season. Mitchell had 198 hits entering today, while St. Louis’ Bob Dillinger had 199, but he was held hitless this afternoon and Mitchell became the first in the AL. He joins just Stan Musial as big leaguers to have 200 knocks this season. He’s the first Indian since Earl Averill accumulated 232 hits and Hal Trosky had 216 hits in 1936.
While the Indians offense racked up accolades in the later innings, Feller quietly shut down the White Sox. Feller (19-14) earned his 19th win while going the distance, scattering ten hits and three walks. He only allowed the two runs in the second inning.
Cleveland is idle tomorrow while Boston concludes its series with Washington at Fenway Park and New York wraps up a three-game set in Philadelphia. Cleveland could extend their lead tomorrow while not taking the field.
Despite the two-game lead with three to play Boudreau plans to stick with the plan to pitch Bob Lemon (20-13, 2.81) on Friday against Detroit, followed by Gene Bearden Saturday and Feller Sunday. If the Indians clinch before Sunday, it seems reasonable Feller would be held back for the first game of the World Series. Detroit will send Virgil Trucks (13-13, 3.89) to the mound to try and delay the Indians’ pennant party and keep Lemon from that 21st victory.