In the highest-tension contest of the local baseball season to date, the incomparable Robert Moses Grove turned his favorite trick of hurling the Red Sox to victory over the Detroit Tigers, 4 to 3, in 10 innings before 4,500 sun-bathed spectators at Fenway Park yesterday.
In the course of repulsing the initial invasion of the season by a Western club, the 38-year-old Old Man of Lonaconing Mountains also signalized an historic landmark in his brilliant career by passing the coveted 2,000-mark in strikeouts.
The arresting event was virtually crowded into oblivion, though, by the courage which the veteran was forced to display in overcoming the potent Tigers for his third win of the present campaign and 51st triumph in 65 starts against the Detroiters for all time.
Plenty of Pinches
Not until the surprising Gene Desautels, pinch runner Leo Nonnenkamp, Grove himself and red-hot Roger Cramer collaborated in pushing over the deciding run with none out in the last half of the 10th was Ol’ Mose able to take a breathing spell.
His own below-par control, combined with the sudden coming to life of Detroit’s Big Thumping Trio of Gehringer, Greenberg and York, saw Tigers crowding the base paths in every inning but two. Time after time Ol’ Man Mose was forced to pitch himself out of what looked like impossible situations.
He was pounded for 12 blows and tossed in six walks to boot, but the only times the desperate visitors were able to pan pay dirt was in the second innings when big Greenberg lifted his fourth home run of the season over the whole works in left field, and then in the fifth when batting champion Gehringer poled a 350-foot homer into the first-base pavilion and scored behind Roxie Lawson, who had beaten out a single.
The twin denouement to Ol’ Man Mose’s courageous pinch pitching came in the eighth and ninth chapters when, with the score deadlocked at 3-all, the Tigers loaded the sacks in both heats with only one out in each instance.
He emerged from the first chasm when pinch-runner Jo Jo White was trapped on an unsuccessful squeeze attempt and Lawson struck out. He scaled the later crux when Pinky Higgins instituted a deft double play on a grounder hit directly over the third bad by Nashua George Tebbetts.
Lawson, who went the distance on the mound as Grove’s adversary, was equally prone to toy with trouble, which added to the confusion of the hat-hoisting and strategy-dripping engagement. Slim right-handed Roxie also was belted for 12 blows and issued nine passes.
With all this generosity the Sox were forced to come from behind to clinch the decision.
The Hose scored a run in the first on Cramer’s lead-off double to left center and Vosmik’s single to left. After Greenberg’s retaliating homer in the second the Sox took a brief lead with another marker in the third, fashioned out of a Cramer single, Vosmik’s infield out, Foxx’s walk and a timely Cronin safety.
Gehringer’s fifth-inning homer put Detroit ahead, 3-2, and that was how it stood entering the last half of the seventh when Jimmie Foxx blasted a two-bagger to left center. It looked as if Jimmie would be stranded, as were 15 other Hose during the matinee, when Cronin fanned, Higgins walked and Chapman fouled out. Childe Bobby Doerr came through with a hot single to right to score Jimmie - Doerr’s 12th R.B.I. of the season.
After Grove’s valiant efforts of the eighth and ninth it would not have been poetic justice if Desautels hadn’t doubled against the wall to open the 10th; if Nonnenkamp, who ran for Gene, hadn’t beaten Lawson’s throw to third on Grove’s bunt; or Cramer hadn’t slapped a first pitched cleanly to left to win the game.
Jack Wilson and Cletus Boots Poffenberger are scheduled opposing pitchers for today’s engagement. . . . Yesterday’s contest was positively brimming over with strategy in the efforts of the rival pilots to get over runs. . . . The Sox pulled their smartest play in years when Chapman went from first to second after Doerr’s fly to Pete Fox in the second innings. . . .Grove’s 2000th strikeout victim was Lawson as the latter fanned in the sixth. . . . Ol’ Mose made it 2002 for the majors and 27 for the season by whiffing Lawson again and Laabs later. . . . Lawson and Laabs comprised Left’s only strikeout victims yesterday, each going down three times. . . . Schoolboy Rowe warmed up feverishly in the Detroit bull-pen during the later stages and probably will see action in this series, although Vernon Kennedy is slated to hurl the finale for the Tigers tomorrow. . . . “When the three big guns start hitting, we’ll start going,” ruefully remarked Mike Cochrane before yesterday’s game. . . . Gehringer, Greenberg and York, who got three for three, started hitting yesterday, but their mates didn’t support them quite enough.