1954 Indians flashback: Tribe is perfect again, bury White Sox in standings

A poor week against the Athletics and Yankees let the White Sox creep within 1.5 games. This week, a short to gamer in Baltimore and a Fourth of July weekend with the White Sox.

The Tribe had lost two of three to each of the athletics and Yankees to tighten up the standings. This week the schedule included a quick road trip to Baltimore for two games and then back home to face off against the White Sox over the holiday weekend. Another poor week could lead to losing the league lead for the first time since June 11.

June 29-30, 1954

June 29: Indians 5, Orioles 1

June 30: Indians 2, Orioles 0

Art Houtteman won his eighth game in the first game. He allowed just five hits and two walks in his complete game with the lone run in the first. The Indians tied it in the fifth on a George Strickland homer and broke it open with three in the seventh, a two run double by Bobby Avila the big blow.

Mike Garcia got back on track after his blowup against the Yankees, pitching a shutout with just four baserunners the entire game, all on singles, although the Cleveland defense had two errors as well. The Indians bats did just enough, a Larry Doby homer in the third and Al Smith RBI double in the seventh, as the Tribe won 2-0 against Duane Pillette.

July 2-4, 1954

July 2 (game 1): White Sox 2, Indians 3

July 2 (game 2): White Sox 4, Indians 5

July 3: White Sox 4, Indians 5, 15 innings

July 4: White Sox 1, Indians 2

The White Sox arrived in Cleveland, just three games off the lead with an excellent chance to make up some ground as they actually were slightly better by Pythag. Friday was a scheduled doubleheader with Bob Feller and Early Wynn taking the hill. Feller revisited a bit of his youth as he pitched a complete game, winning 3-2. Virgil Trucks took a scant 1-0 lead all the way til the sixth when Doby connected on his second homer of the week. Four more singles off Trucks in eighth pushed the lead to 3-1, with Doby and Al Rosen driving in the go ahead runs.

In the nightcap, Wynn was staked to a 5-1 lead by the sixth. Doby again was the catalyst, smacking a three run shot in the fifth.  Wynn did finish the game, but the White Sox made it interesting with two in the seventh and getting the go ahead run on in the ninth before Wynn prevailed.

The Saturday matchup turned into a death match as the White Sox tallied three in the sixth and the Indians scoring single runs in the first on a Rosen sacrifice fly, and solo shots by Doby and Wally Westlake in the third and eighth innings respectively. Hal Newhouser took over in the tenth and pitched shutout ball until the Sox pushed one across in the top of the fifteenth. But Jack Harshman also tired in the bottom half, not retiring a batter as Hank Majeski scored both the tying and winning runs with his single.

The holiday matchup was a tight one. Garcia started the game but left the game with an injury in the second. Ray Narleski took over and continued to no-hit the Sox. The White Sox scored one in the eight without a hit as a walk, wild pitch, ground ball and error got them within one at 2-1. Doby continued his MVP push with an RBI single in the fourth and solo shot in the sixth. The White Sox finally got their first hit with two out in the ninth, but Wynn finished them off.

Player of the Week

Easy call for this week as Larry Doby was absolutely torrid. He had a slash of 435/536/1130, five home runs and nine RBI. He alo walked five times in those six games.

Transactions/Moves

Al Rosen switched back to his natural third base position and Vic Wertz took over at first. Bob Lemon was DL'ed with Dave Hoskins returning.

Summary

The perfect week did wonders for the Indians, pushing the White Sox into third, 7 games back and getting some breathing room on the Yankees. This was definitely needed as the following week had nine (!) games on tap, two in Detroit, three back home against the Orioles and four more against the White Sox at the start of a seventeen game trip.

Standings

W

L

Pct

GB

RS

RA

Pythag

Cleveland Indians

52

22

703

-

355

260

639

New York Yankees

49

28

636

4.5

383

292

622

Chicago White Sox

46

30

605

7.0

376

282

629

Detroit Tigers

31

40

437

19.5

278

293

476

Washington Senators

30

43

411

21.5

314

326

483

Baltimore Orioles

30

44

405

22.0

249

320

387

Philadelphia Athletics

29

43

403

22.0

280

383

360

Boston Red Sox

27

44

380

23.5

283

362

389

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