1954 Indians flashback: Tribe dominate Red Sox and Senators, extend AL lead

A four city trip through New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Boston had resulted in a 9-4 record. But there was one last game in Boston before home rematches with the Senators and Red Sox.

After losing two of three in Washington, the Indians finished off the previous week by winning four straight in Fenway. Due to some early season rainouts, there would be one more in Boston before heading home.

June 14, 1954

June 14: Indians 13, Red Sox 5

After a doubleheader sweep on Sunday June 13, the Indians went for a rare five game series sweep. Bob Lemon got the call against Bill Henry. Three hits and a walk in the second inning only led to the bases being loaded as Jim Hegan got thrown at second trying to stretch his hit into a double. Luckily Henry hit Rudy Regalado to force in the lone run that inning.  A pair of RBI singles by Hegan and Lemon pushed the lead to 3-0 in the third. The floodgates opened in the fifth though as Lemon doubled in one and George Strickland hit a three run shot. A solo shot by Al Smith and a Vic Wertz double chased Henry from the game and made the lead 9-0. The Red Sox got one back in the fifth and three more in the seventh. But the Tribe got all four back in the ninth to make it 13-4. Ray Narleski finished the day off by giving one back in the ninth.

June 15-17, 1954

June 15: Senators 3, Indians 9

June 16: Senators 1, Indians 5

June 17: Senators 4, Indians 6

An overnight train ride got the Indians home to face the Senators. In the opener, Art Houtteman faced Dean Stone. Mickey Vernon and Jim Busby both had RBI doubles in the first, but Wertz scored Strickland on a grounder to make it 2-1 Senators after one. Wertz got another RBI in the third, as did Wally Westlake, and the Indians took the lead 3-2. It stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth. Stone left after one out and Hank Majeski on second and Houtteman on first. Gus Keriazakos relieved and then walked Strickland to load the bases. Regalado singled in a pair and in came Chuck Stobbs. He walked Larry Doby and Al Rosen, fresh off his broken finger, pinch hit for Wertz and cleared the bags with a double. Dave Philly knocked in one more to make 9-2. Houtteman loaded the bases in the ninth, but Hal Newhouser retired all three of his batters (one on a sacrifice fly) and the game was over.

The middle game featured Don Mossi in a rare spot start against Mickey McDermott, not one of the normal five man rotation. Mossi pitched pretty well, giving up four hits and four walks in his seven innings with eight strikeouts. His only blemish came in the third when Joe Tipton hit a solo shot. The Tribe wasn't having much success with McDermott either. Other than loading the bases in the same third inning, they only had three other base runners heading to the bottom of the seventh. Majeski singled with one out and Hegan moved pinch runner Bobby Avila to second on a hit. Rosen kept the single parade going, pinch hitting for Mossi, loading the bases. Connie Marrero relieved and retired pinch hitter Dale Mitchell on a pop up. But Regalado scored two with a single and Doby netted one more with his single to give the Indians a 3-1 lead. Another two run single by Avila in the eighth gave Narleski plenty of breathing room.

The finale featured Early Wynn against Spec Shea and his shiny 8.40 ERA. The Indians scored three in the first on a Wertz single and Westlake two run double. A sacrifice fly by Philley in the third and a run scoring single by Doby in the fifth gave Wynn a 5-0 lead. After walking the bases loaded in the seventh, Bob Hooper came in to stem the tide, but gave up two runs on a sacrifice fly by Vernon and a single by Roy Sievers. Another sacrifice fly by Philley in the eighth made it a four run lead, which helped a bit as Vernon hit a two run homer in the ninth off Hooper to make it 6-4, but he struck out Sievers to complete the three game sweep.

June 18-20, 1954

June 18: Red Sox 0, Indians 2

June 19: Red Sox 6, Indians 3

June 20 (game 1): Red Sox 1, Indians 3

June 20 (game 2): Red Sox 2, Indians 9

At this point the Red Sox must have been dreading seeing the Indians, especially just after the five game sweep in Fenway the previous weekend. Mike Garcia got his first start of the week and it turned out to be one of his better efforts on the season. He allowed walks in the second and seventh, erased a Wertz error with a double play in the fourth, and singles in the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings. The seventh was his only dangerous inning as the walk and single with a stolen base led to a second and third situation with two outs, but he got Ted Lepcio to fly out. Fran Sullivan had a good game too, just not quite as good. Doby had a run scoring single in the first and Wertz had one in the sixth. And like that, the Tribe had their ninth straight victory over the Red Sox in 1954.

Red Sox manager Lou Boudreau must have been stewing as his former teammates were dominating the Ted Williams-less Red Sox. Ellis Kinder took the hill on Saturday, hoping to break the streak with Lemon on the hill. Majeski got the scoring started in the second, scoring Philley with a single. But Sammy White got that right back in the third with a sacrifice fly. Philley and Westlake got two more in the third, but the Red Sox tied it back up in the fourth. By the sixth, Lemon had already given up nine hits, so when Jim Piersall doubled and Karl Olsen drove him in, Dave Hoskins was called in from the pen. White got another in with another sac fly and the Sox now led 5-3. A Jackie Jensen solo shot off Narleski in the seventh completed the scoring as the Indian bats couldn't make Kinder and reliever Sid Hudson pay for the seven runners left on  base in the final four frames.

In the Sunday opener, Bob Feller reached back into the memory banks and pitched his best game of the season so far. He started slow as three singles and a double play in the first got the Red Sox a quick 1-0 lead. But Smith led off the bottom of the first with a homer off Leo Kiely to tie it quickly. A pair of singles by Strickland and Hegan in second gave Regalado the opportunity for a run scoring fly ball. In the fifth, Philley added another sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. Meanwhile, Feller settled down, allowing a just two more singles and two walks the rest of the way.

The finale featured Houtteman against Willard Nixon. Again the Red Sox opened the game with three singles, scoring one run, but a Jensen line drive resulted in an inning ending double play. Philley knotted it the bottom half with a bases loaded groundout. Smith hit his second homer of the day, this time scoring three in the second. And the Indians finished off Nixon in the fourth. Houtteman singled in Strickland, Smith scored Houtteman and then Doby crushed a three run homer to make it 9-1. A Lepcio solo homer in the sixth would be the only other score of the game. The Tribe had a double header sweep and a season record of 11-1 against the Red Sox.

Transactions/Moves

With Bobby Avila out, Majeski took over the reins at second base for the week. After subbing for most of the week, Rosen returned to the starting lineup for the Sunday doubleheader. Dave Hoskins was added to the bullpen, but it is unclear who got demoted or put on the DL. My best guess is that it was Sam Dente.

Summary

Playing the second division really padded the Indians win total this week as they went 7-1 against the Red Sox and Senators. They pushed the lead over the White Sox to four games and the Yankees to five. And for the first time all year, they ended the week with the best Pythagorean record.

Up next, the Athletics and Yankees make return visits to Cleveland Stadium in a week with just six games.

Standings

W

L

Pct

GB

RS

RA

Pythag

Cleveland Indians

44

18

740

-

313

212

671

Chicago White Sox

40

22

645

4.0

317

230

643

New York Yankees

40

24

625

5.0

298

237

603

Detroit Tigers

27

32

458

15.5

240

235

510

Washington Senators

27

34

443

16.5

262

269

488

Philadelphia Athletics

24

36

400

19.0

237

331

352

Boston Red Sox

21

38

356

21.5

226

302

370

Baltimore Orioles

22

41

349

22.5

212

289

362

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