1954 Cleveland Indians (April 19-26): No-hitter avoided

After a losing record in the first week of the season, the Indians started a three week road trip with visits to Baltimore and Detroit.

After a mediocre first week of the 1954 season left them in last place, the Indians took to the road for a three-week adventure through Baltimore, Detroit, Boston, New York, Washington, Philadelphia and then Baltimore again.

April 21-22, 1954

April 21: Indians 2, Orioles 1

April 22: Indians 1, Orioles 4

I cannot tell if there was a rainout or not on April 20, but the Indians played just two games in Charm City, on Wednesday and Thursday. Baltimore was in the midst of their first ever MLB homestand, as the former St. Louis Browns had moved there for that year. Baltimore had hosted a Tribe affiliate as recent as 1948.

Bob Lemon made his second start of the season and faced young Bob Turley in the first game. And Turley pitched a heck of a game. Through eight innings, he hadn't allowed a hit, but worked around four walks. The Tribe threatened him in the fourth, when Bill Glynn walked, Wally Westlake struck out, AL Rosen reached on shortstop Billy Hunter's error and Larry Doby worked another walk to load the bases. But Dave Philley and George Strickland both struck out to end the threat, part of a 14 K game by Turley. Lemon was pitching very well, scattering eight hits and allowing just one run in the first on three singles. In the ninth, after Dave Pope struck out, Rosen singled to left and Doby parked one over the fence, to give the Tribe the lead. Lemon gave up a leadoff single in the ninth, but finished them off on a bunt and two grounders.

The next day At Memorial Stadium, Mike Garcia faced Duane Pillette. The Indians scored in the first on three walks and a single, but left the bases juiced. Garcia promptly allowed four straight singles and three runs and manager Al Lopez gave him the quick hook. Art Houtteman made his season debut and essentially pitched a complete game giving up one run in the eighth on a double steal. But after the first, the offense did little else against Pillette except in the ninth when they left the bases loaded. And for the first time in 1954, the home team won a game that the Indians played in. Sam Dente and Joe Ginsberg also made their season debuts for the Tribe this day.

April 23-25, 1954

April 23: Indians 1, Tigers 6

April 24: Indians 3, Tigers 6

April 25: Indians 10, Tigers 9 (10 innings)

After an overnight train ride, Cleveland would finally play a full series for the first time all season, this one being against the Tigers.

Like Garcia the day before, Early Wynn could not escape the first inning, putting the Indians in a quick 5-0 hole in the first inning. That would be all Ned Garver would need, as he scattered six singles and had three walks in his complete game. Jim Hegan got the sole RBI, scoring Pope from second in the fifth inning. Relievers Dave Hoskins and Bob Chakales both got into their first games as well.

On Saturday, Hal Newhouser made his first start against his former teammates as he was matched up against former Indian Steve Gromek. With the Indians down, 2-0, Glynn, Bobby Avila and Doby all hit solo homers in the fourth to take the lead. But that would be the only real offense generated that day against Gromek. Newhouser was done in the sixth after a Strickland error led to three unearned runs on a Ray Boone homer.

The Indians broke their second three game losing streak on Sunday, but it was not an easy task. Lemon took on Billy Hoeft, but neither would get through six innings. It was a back and forth affair until the Tribe went up 7-3 in the fifth, with the bulk of the damage a three run bomb by Westlake. Al Kaline eventually tied it up in the seventh, but Garcia came in to leave the bases loaded. Rosen drove in two in the eighth, but Garcia gave them both back in the ninth. Don Mossi came in and stranded runners at second and third, keeping it tied. In the tenth, Philley hit a two run homer and the Indians went back up 10-8. But Mossi walked a tightrope in the bottom half, giving up a run of his own before stranding guys at first and third to earn his first win.

Transactions

In the first two weeks of the season, OF Hank Majeski was DL'ed, 1B Rocky Nelson, RP Dick Tomanek and RP Jose Santiago were sent down and OF Bob Kennedy was dealt to the Orioles for Jim Dyck, who was kept in the minors. IF Sam Dente, C Joe Ginsberg, RP Bob Chakales, RP Dave Hoskins and RP Hal Newhouser were all activated.

Summary

The Tribe had matched their week one record, 2-3, and sat just half game out of last place. They were the second worst team according to Pythag, but were only 2.5 games out of first with a lot of games left to play.

Up next, a trip to Boston, New York and the nation's capital.

Standings

W

L

Pct

GB

RS

RA

Pythag

Chicago White Sox

7

4

636

-

54

35

689

Detroit Tigers

6

4

600

0.5

41

34

585

Washington Senators

6

4

600

0.5

46

38

587

Philadelphia Athletics

5

5

500

1.5

32

40

399

New York Yankees

5

5

500

1.5

30

24

601

Cleveland Indians

4

6

400

2.5

36

48

371

Boston Red Sox

4

6

400

2.5

34

40

426

Baltimore Orioles

4

7

364

3.0

26

40

313

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