October 8, 1948
Cleveland Indians rookie pitcher Gene Bearden is making quite a name for himself, as he pitched the Tribe’s third straight outstanding game in defeating the Boston Braves, 2-0, and giving the Indians a 2-1 advantage in the World Series in the process.
Bearden used the pinpoint control of his knuckleball to work through the Boston batters, allowing just five hits and no walks in his complete game shutout. The Braves, like the Indians, got excellent pitching as well, but did not get the defensive support from the position players. The Tribe got their first run gift wrapped for them in the third inning, then had to work for one in the fourth.
The starter for Boston, rookie right-hander Vern Bickford, pitched well but was on a short leash from Braves manager Billy Southworth. Bickford worked only three and one-third innings, allowing just the one earned and one unearned run before being pulled in favor of the Boston bullpen. Relievers Bill Voiselle and Red Barrett did an excellent job of shutting the Indians down and keeping the Braves in the ballgame. It was not to be for Boston, however, as Bearden and the Tribe made the two early runs stand up.
The Tribe got their first run, the unearned run, in the bottom of the third when Bearden smoked a one-out double into right field to start the rally. Bickford then walked Dale Mitchell, putting another runner on base but setting up the potential double play at the same time. Bickford got the groundball that he wanted when Larry Doby pushed one toward second baseman Eddie Stanky, who flipped the ball to Al Dark at short for the force out, but his relay throw to first baseman Frank McCormick was wild and Bearden scored the contest’s first tally. Doby moved to second on what should have been the third out. The error was Dark’s third in the Series’ last two games.
Cleveland added their second and final run in the fourth inning, as the team ran Bickford from the ballgame. Third baseman Ken Keltner led off the inning with a base on balls and then Bickford struck out Wally Judnich for the first out. Three straight singles by Eddie Robinson, Jim Hegan and Bearden followed, with Hegan’s pushing Keltner across the plate for the 2-0 lead. Bickford was pulled after Bearden’s single and Voiselle worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam by getting Mitchell to pop out in foul territory and Doby to ground out to first.
Bearden, meanwhile, had a bend-but-don’t-break philosophy as he did a marvelous job of scattering Boston’s five hits. The first knock was from the first base McCormick, who hit a one-out single and eventually reached second base in the second inning, but he was stranded thanks to a Phil Masi fly out. The Braves also got leadoff singles in the third, fourth and seventh innings but were unable to score then as well. The biggest Boston threat occurred in the third when Stanky made it all the way to third base with two outs. A Dark fly ball ended that scoring chance as well.
The only other base runner that Bearden allowed was a two-out double to Dark in the top of the sixth. The rookie southpaw stranded that runner as well when Mike McCormick popped out to Joe Gordon at second base.
When the game ended, it turned out to be another outstanding pitcher’s duel, the second one in three games of the Series. Only three batters reached base after Bickford was pulled in the fourth inning – one Indian and two Braves. Among the 70,306 in attendance who witnessed the one hour and 36 minute ball game were celebrities Bob Hope, Lou Costello, Bud Abbott, baseball’s commissioner Happy Chandler, Ohio Governor Thomas J. Herbert and Cleveland Mayor Thomas A. Burke.
The Indians will try for their third straight victory and a commanding 3-1 lead in the series on Saturday, as the Stadium is expected to draw far more fans than the Friday contest. Game Three drew 3,759 fewer fans than the World Series record attendance set last year at Yankee Stadium in a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers, although the ticket sales were nearly $20,000 more in Cleveland than they were in New York. Saturday’s Game Four is expected to exceed these numbers and be the largest draw in World Series history.
The Braves will throw two-time All-Star and 24-game winner Johnny Sain (1-0, 0.00) for the second time in the series. Sain bested Tribe ace Bob Feller in Game One on a controversial call on a pickoff play as the Braves beat the Indians 1-0 on Wednesday at Braves Field in Boston. The Indians will counter Sain with Steve Gromek, the converted relief pitcher who made only nine starts in the regular season. Gromek will be making the first World Series appearance of his career.