1954 Cleveland Indians (May 10-May 16): Grand slams pace an eight game week

A month into the season, the Indians found themselves in third place just a game out of first and one game up on the defending champion New York Yankees.

Returning home after three weeks on the road, the Indians were scheduled to have eight games and three visitors to Cleveland Stadium, the Yankees, Senators, and Athletics.

May 10-12, 1954 (vs. Yankees)

May 10: Yankees 7, Indians 8

May 11: Yankees 5, Indians 3

May 12: Yankees 5, Indians 4

The Yankees came into town, hoping to retaliate for the two-game sweep, two weeks prior. Whitey Ford started the opener against Bob Lemon. Two Tribe errors gave the Yankees a quick 3-0 lead in the first, but Ford did not have his best stuff. A single and two walks had manager Casey Stengel out with a quick hook. Al Rosen drove in a pair with a single, then Larry Doby walked to load the bases again. Dave Philley followed with a grand slam. A double by George Strickland and a triple from Jim Hegan followed that. When all was said and done, the Indians had scored eight runs in the inning. They needed all eight as the Yankees plated four more in the next couple innings, with Don Mossi relieving in the second. The lineups went quiet after that, with Mike Garcia earning the save for Cleveland.

In the middle game, Allie Reynolds faced Early Wynn. The Yankees scored three in the fourth and chased Wynn with Dave Hoskins taking over. Al Smith trimmed one of the deficit with an RBI single in the fifth. Rosen knotted it up in the eighth with a two run single, but Reynolds escaped a bases loaded no out jam without any further damage, including two forceouts at home. A two run double by Yogi Berra in the ninth off Hoskins proved to be the difference with Johnny Sain pitching the ninth and nabbing his fourth save of the season.

The rubber match had Eddie Lopat taking on Garcia. The Yankees drew blood first in the sixth, scoring two on a single by Woodling and a run scoring groundout by Gil McDougald. Noren plated another in the seventh and Mossi prevented any more runs. In the eighth, Andy Carey hit a two run homer off Narleski and the Yankees now had a 5-0 lead. But the Tribe fought back in their half with a two run single by Rosen, a passed ball by Berra and a Hank Majeski pinch hit single. But Sain once again saved the day and the Yankees had won the series by winning the game 5-4.

May 13-15, 1954 (vs. Senators)

May 13: Senators 7, Indians 8 (11 innings)

May 14: Senators 2, Indians 5

May 15: Senators 4 Indians 5

The very next day, the Senators arrived for three games. Mickey McDermott (who hit seventh!) took the hill against Art Houtteman. A Rudy Regalado homer in the second tied the score at 1-1 for the Indians. But the Senators scored three in the fifth off Houtteman, one in the sixth and two more in the seventh off Bob Hooper to take a 7-1 lead. But Indians made a huge comeback in the ninth. Rosen led off with a homer, and after singles by Doby and Regalado and run scoring double by Strickland, McDermott was lifted. Sonny Dixon got Dave Pope to pop out, but walked pinch hitter Dale Mitchell to load the bases. Al Smith forced Mitchell at second, but another run made it 7-4. Dixon walked Bobby Avila to load the bases again and Johnny Schmitz made his entrance. Philley cleared the bases with a double, and just like that the score was 7-7. The walkoff hit was provided by Rosen in the eleventh as he doubled in Smith off Schmitz.

Game two was a bit less stressful as the Indians jumped all over Chuck Stobbs in the first. After a pair of walks to Smith and Philley, Doby doubled home the first run. After walking Regalado to load the bases and get to Strickland, the move clearly backfired as Strickland hit a grand slam, and voila the lead was 5-0. That would be all Lemon would need as he gave up a run in each of the third and fifth innings, but completed the game with six hits, three walks and six strikeouts.

The Tribe went for the series sweep as Spec Shea faced Wynn. Jim Busby homered off Wynn in the first, but Strickland tied it in the second on an RBI double. Rosen hit a two run shot in the third to take the lead, but Mickey Vernon evened the score with his own two run shot in the sixth. Small ball by the Senators in the eighth got them the lead on a walk, bunt single, sacrifice hit and sacrifice fly. Avila led off the bottom of the eighth to tie it and then Philley doubled. Rosen sacrificed him to third and Doby scored him with a single. Staked to a one run lead, Wynn pitched a 1-2-3 lead for yet another complete game win.

May 16, 1954 (vs. Athletics)

May 16 (game 1): Athletics 7, Indians 12

May 16 (game 2): Athletics 0 Indians 6

The Sunday doubleheader brought the A's to town just for the day. The opener had Marion Fricano as the starter with Bob Feller getting his first start in fourteen days. Feller was rusty as the A's plated two in the first and three more in the third, with Bob Chakales taking over for him. The Indians had scored three in the second on a solo homer by Rosen and a two run shot by Hegan, but were down 5-3 heading to their half of the fourth. They scored six on just three hits, with the big blow a two run double by Hegan. After Chakales loaded the bases on walks in the sixth, Narleski walked in a run, but got the next three out on a pair of foul outs to first and a strikeout. The Tribe tacked on one more in the sixth and two more in the eighth.

In the nightcap, Arnie Portocarrero took on Mike Garcia. A four spot in the third on a two run single by Philley and a two run shot by Rosen would be more than enough for Garcia. He was flat out dominant this day. A leadoff single in the fourth was the only hit given up all game by him. The A's only had two other baserunners all game, leadoff walks in the fifth and sixth. Garcia finished with five strikeouts in his shutout.

Transactions/Moves

It appears Hoskins was sent down in favor of having Chakales on the roster. Also, I believe Wally Westlake was DL'ed this week, with catcher Joe Ginsberg getting the call-up. With Westlake sidelined, Smith moved from third to left and Regalado took over at third.

Summary

In a very busy week, the Indians finished 6-2 and landed in first place, with the White Sox and the Yankees right on their heels. The starting pitching was not great, but the bullpen did very well, while the offense hit quite a few home runs.

Standings

W

L

Pct

GB

RS

RA

Pythag

Cleveland Indians

18

10

643

-

142

113

603

Chicago White Sox

19

11

633

-

132

95

646

New York Yankees

17

11

607

1.0

118

99

580

Detroit Tigers

14

9

609

1.5

107

90

579

Baltimore Orioles

11

14

440

5.5

62

89

340

Philadelphia Athletics

10

17

370

7.5

81

123

318

Washington Senators

9

17

346

8.0

101

116

437

Boston Red Sox

6

15

286

8.5

71

89

398

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